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A/N: Here it is, folks, the final instalment of Runaway, the epilogue, the end. It's not very long, I'm sorry to say, but it gives the closure this story needs. I’ll save my speech until the end of the chapter. I do hope you enjoy.


She leaned back, away from her desk, tears pouring down her face as she reread the last few lines of what she'd just written. With a trembling hand, she pulled the piece of paper from the typewriter and added it to the rather large pile of others that were at her elbow and then she released a shuddering breath of relief. It was over and she could finally put it all behind her, she could finally allow the memories to be just that; memories.

Taking a moment to contemplate it all, she already felt lighter. Her personal purging process had once again helped take the weight of her experiences from her shoulders and after ten whole months of writing, months in which she knew she had neglected both herself and her family, months in which she had struggled with the memories that still haunted her and with a depression that made her fragile, her book was written and it was time to continue forward, time to allow herself to completely move on, time to heal.

It would probably take another couple of weeks at least until she built up the strength to send it to her publisher, but that didn't matter, her part of the experience was over. She only hoped that now the people would come to see the man she had written about for who he truly was, that she had managed to banish all misconceptions about him so that they could understand that he was a good man who had given his life in his attempt to keep their world at peace.

Standing, she stretched, causing bones that had been abused for quite some time to crack and groan in response. Then, with a final look at the stack of paper on her desk, she walked towards the door, pausing only momentarily to glance at the bed. It was the same bed she had suffered through nightmares, the same bed she had shared with the only man she had ever loved, the same bed her daughter had been conceived in, the same bed where she had mourned for her loss.

Shaking off the thoughts, she left the room and went into the bathroom, hesitating at the mirror to study herself a moment, something she wouldn't have been able to do a lifetime ago. There were deep bags under her eyes, and her skin was tight and drawn. She looked like death warmed up, but there was something in her brown eyes, something that had been missing for a long time and had only just come home.

Without warning, a laugh escaped her throat, which suddenly turned to a sob. But this was no longer the cry of someone in pain; it was the cry of a woman who had suffered, yes, but was now able to feel the shredded pieces of her soul slowly coming back together. The sob that had been torn from her throat was one of relief.

She shook her head and allowed it to wash over her for a moment before she dropped her face from the mirror above the sink and turned the water on. The cold liquid felt good as it splashed over her skin and she revelled in it for a long while before a loud, excited squeal from the kitchen drew her attention. After drying her face, she left the bathroom in search for the source.

What she found in her kitchen was one very happy little girl being twirled around in the arms of the man who, although not biologically, was most certainly her granddad. Both of them were grinning broadly, laughing loudly and the little girl was clutching tightly to a piece of parchment in her hand.

Leaning against the arch in between the living room and kitchen, she crossed her arms and observed them for a moment before her curiosity got the better of her. “What's all this then?” she questioned and watched, amused, as both turned to her suddenly.

The elder man put the little girl down and she bolted towards the woman, stopping suddenly only a foot away and flicking a few strands of curly, blonde hair from her eyes as she looked up, her smile still splitting her face.

She held the parchment up and exclaimed excitedly and in a rush, “I got my Hogwarts letter, Mum!”

Eyes widening, the woman took the piece of parchment the girl was frantically waving around and read it over, realizing what the pair was so excited about. With a smile of her own blossoming, the woman looked back to the girl, her unstable emotional state putting tears in her eyes. She'd consciously known that it wouldn't be long before her daughter received her letter, but somehow, to her, the years had passed by all too quickly.

Leaning over, she hugged the girl to her tightly, attempting to compose herself enough to reign in the tears that were threatening to fall. “That's wonderful, sweetie,” she said honestly and quickly before her throat could clog up. “I'm so proud of you.”

When she pulled away, the child grinned up at her and then took the letter back. “Do you think I should go tell Daddy?”

A pang of loss pulled at her heart and she had to fight even harder against her tears as she took a small hand in her own and led her to the back door, kneeling down to the girls level once they got there and saying sincerely, “Oh, I definitely think you should go tell your father, this would make him very happy.”

With another wide smile, the little girl kissed her cheek and then ran out the door, down the stairs and over the grass to where her father lay. Biting her trembling lip, the woman watched her go and then closed her eyes tightly. A strong hand on her shoulder made her reopen them and look up, into the warm eyes of the man who for a number of years now had been her father, her guide, and her strength.

He gave her the smallest of smiles, but his face was concerned. “Well?” was all he said, but she knew what he wanted to know.

“It's done,” she answered quietly and he squeezed her shoulder. Rising to her feet, she glanced back out the door and wondered aloud, “Where has all the time gone?”

Laughing, he swung his arm over her shoulder and started steering her through the back door and towards where her daughter knelt in front of a white, marble marker, saying, “I've been asking myself that question for many years and I've yet to discover an answer.”

The rest of the trip to the bench under a massive willow tree was spent in silence and when the two sat, nothing more was said as they simply observed the little girl speaking to her fathers grave. The woman let her mind wander as she read the inscription on the tombstone, back to a time she had just spent months revisiting and to the man who was still the only man she had ever been in love with.

She wondered, not for the first time, what he would say if he were here now. She imagined he would be smothering their daughter in praise, swinging her around in excitement as the other man had done.

And what of them? She smiled to herself at that thought, but there was sadness in it, a hint of dreams that would never be. They would have been happy, she knew. They still would have argued and there would have been bad times, but had he of been alive, they would have been right where he said they would be; in this place, together.

In a sense, she knew he was still here. She could still feel him close by, his presence deep within both she and their daughter. She'd told her daughter of him from when she was old enough to understand such things, explained to the best of her ability what kind of man he had been and when the little girl had gotten upset over the fact that she would never meet her father, she had told her that all she needed to do was look in the mirror, for he was there, inside of her, always with her.

Her attention snapped away from her thoughts as her daughter got up and came over to the bench, her face tinged with such innocent sadness. She turned grey eyes on her mother and whispered her question, “Would he be proud of me too?”

The tears blossomed in her eyes, but she didn't let them fall as she reached out and took the girls hand, squeezing it tightly and saying in a choked voice, “He would have been the proudest daddy in the whole world.” And she meant it. She'd had a lot of time to think about what kind of father he would have been, and 'proud' was right at the top of the list.

Slowly, a watery smile came across the girls face and she turned to her grandfather, who quickly reached out and scooped her up into his arms, settling her on his lap. All three of their gazes drifted back to the marble marker and there was a long silence before the girl’s voice broke it again, “I wish he were here.”

Reaching over, the woman brushed a strand of hair from the child's face and gave her a soft, shaky smile, “So do I, baby.”

“But he is,” the man said brightly, his eyes also showing his own sadness, but his smile and voice lifting their spirits, in that way that only he could manage. “Don't you remember? The one's that love us never really leave us.”

Smiling her thanks to him, the woman then let her attention turn back to the tombstone and the man whose life was carved into it. Absently, she heard her daughter asking her granddad if her Hogwarts letter meant she would finally get the wand she’d been asking for since she could talk, but she drifted away from the rest of the conversation as her mind wandered.

She'd been many things in her life; daughter and mother, star student and war heroine, powerful witch and popular author, friend and lover. She'd done so many things throughout her years, experienced so much, but nothing had ever compared to what she'd found with him, or what he'd left her with. Nothing had impacted her quite as much as the time they had been together and the love they had shared.

He'd been in her life for as long as she'd known what she truly was, but he'd been on the wrong side of things and they'd never discovered what they could have had until much later. There was a time that she thought, and hoped, she’d never see him again, many years ago, but then in the quickest of flashes he'd arrived on her doorstep, and at some point in the time that followed they'd found their hearts in each other, but then he'd left just as suddenly as he’d came.

Just after his death, she'd thought he was gone, forever, but with years to patch her wounds and come to terms with the loss, she'd realized that what had just been said was most definitely true. The one's that love us are always with us, no matter what. She knew he'd never leave, for she could feel him, right there inside her heart.

He'd once described the pair of them as runaways, two people who fled from what they knew and the people in their lives, searching for solace in silence and solitude. But when they had been joined, they had given each other the strength needed to stop their mad dash from the world. They had turned back, ready to face what would come, holding onto each other in the turmoil that came when one stood in not only the face of desperate times and a troubled world, but when they were standing up to each other, and more importantly, to themselves.

And even though he was now physically gone, he had managed to keep her grounded, had given her what she needed to face reality and let people back into her heart, had been the one who had stopped her from running again. He had taught her that although the one's we love can be taken from us, they leave us with something so special that it’s worth every ounce of pain.

That lesson gave her the peace she had searched for after years of grief and it was something she never would have known, never would have allowed herself to understand before he returned to her life, before he’d halted her frantic flee, before he’d loved her, before he’d made himself a part of her; after he'd left his pebbles in the bottom of her lake.

The End.

One Last Note From The Author:

So, there you have it, this story is now complete. Before anyone asks, there are no plans for a sequel and I am highly doubtful there ever will be. As I’ve said before, one day I may write a prequel, Hermione’s first book, but it won’t be anytime soon. Also, as much as I enjoy the ship, I don’t think I’ll be writing another D/Hr fic for at least some time … for now at least, I’m all Dramione’d out.

Onto the speech then?

For starters, I want to thank each and every one of my readers and reviewers, from the bottom of my heart. The response to this story has been absolutely astounding, it’s simply blown me away. Words are completely inadequate to express the gratitude I feel. The feedback has been appreciated by this lowly little writer more than I can say. I know I say it in response to each review, I know it’s overused, and I know it can never be enough, but as it’s all I have to give: Thank you.

This story started as an entrant in NaNo, and even though I failed dismally to have it written within the time limit, it turned into so much more. This was a journey, for me at least, and I hope for you too. I’ve been rendered speechless, been humbled, learned so much about myself and my writing, and even made a few friends over the course of this fic and looking back, I’m glad that I have it here, to stand as a reminder of a significant time in my life.

Now, I could ramble for some time, but before I really get into it and this note becomes longer than the actual chapter, I’m going to cut myself off. Before I forget though, to those who have taken the time to vote for this story in the Dobby’s, I appreciate it, really. And a special thanks to those who actually nominated the fic. To make the finals was something I never expected and it’s made me so proud of my work.

For updates on my work and the occasional rant, check out my blog, you’ll find the link on my Author’s page, and as a special extra treat, I’ll be posting the soundtrack to Runaway there soon, so be sure to check that out. If you’ve any questions about my fanfiction work, the best place to ask would be my Meet The Author page on the forums. Again, the link can be found on my Authors page.

Once more, I’ll say it (because I really can’t convey it enough), thank you to everyone for sticking with this story, for the support I’ve received. You have all inspired me more than you’ll ever know and helped give me what I need to keep at it in the world of literature.

Always writing,

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