Son of Hogwarts

Chapter 6: Auld Lang Zine

A Harry Potter Fanfiction

By: Legato Deathscythe

Fluer and Gabrielle had flooed in for the New Years celebration. The kids were going to enjoy the night and ring in the New Year with as much hope as they could muster. Narcissa smiled as the kids partied like the next day didn't matter. The lady of the house didn't remember when there had been anything other then dignified celebrations in her childhood. Granted, Sirius had tried on many occasions to liven the place up. Their parents wouldn't have it, or much else to do with her older brother. He was disowned and cast out, until he was the only one who carried the name.

Seeing Draco dance around with little Gabrielle reminded the Lady Snape of why she had not stayed true to Lucius Malfoy all those years ago. The Second-in-Command of the Death Eaters wouldn't have raised her son like this. He would have drilled the ideology that got the man sent to Azkaban into her son. She thought back to the early days after the divorce, after Sirius had made his ultimatum. Narcissa Snape remembered it clearly.

Ten and a half years ago

Narcissa Black kept her small child close to her as she walked from the main gate. Draco was sleeping soundly in his mothers arms, snuggled into her embrace. It had been a hard year for her. When she had told Lucius she was pregnant with their first child, he had seemed happy. It hadn't stopped him from going out at all hours to serve the Dark Lord. It had taken him being sent away for her to see the truth. He would never truly care for her child. He would always be trying to turn her little Draco into the next generation of Death Eater.

Sirius demand that her son be brought up to respect everyone was more then reasonable. Neither of them wanted to see another war break out. The first step to that was to ensure their children grew up with different ideas. That they were friends with everyone, and didn't see just stepping stones. But Narcissa's reasons for coming here were more selfish really. She just wanted to find Draco a playmate. She knew he would be safe here, on the grounds of this school. She also knew that the professors and her brother were keeping Harry Potter here. She just thought...

The first person she saw as she entered the school was Professor Minerva McGonagal. The stern Transfiguration professor walked up to her and offered her a cordial greeting. "Mrs. Malfoy."

Narcissa flinched at the name, "It's just Ms. Black now. I gave it all up."

"Everything?" the professor asked, concerned.

Narcissa nodded, "Except for some money in a trust in Draco's name, and my personal vaults I have nothing. We've been staying at the Three Broom Sticks down in Hogsmeade, until I can find us somewhere to live."

The old professor nodded, "It is sometimes easy for me to forget that there are other loses from this war. With so many crippled or dead, I forget sometimes about those who were caught in the middle."

"No, I made my choices. All I can do now is find a safe place to raise my son," Narcissa replied. There was more fear buried within her. She was worried that someone would come after her and Draco in retaliation for everything Lucius had done.

Minerva offered her an understanding smile. The elder woman asked, "Would you like to join us? Pomona, Poppy, and I were going to sit down for some tea. It being the weekend there isn't much for us to do unless an emergency presents itself. You can sit Draco down with Harry, we are all watching him today."

Narcissa nodded, grateful for a moment of peace. They were sitting in the infirmary exchanging pleasantries when Narcissa sat Draco down in front of Baby Harry. She looked at the boys for a moment, watching them. Harry took one of his toys and handed it to Draco. Narcissa smiled as her son accepted it, and both seemed to start playing together happily. It seemed her little boy wouldn't be as lonely as she feared. The scar on Harry's forehead didn't seem to matter as the two giggled and gurgled at each other.

Narcissa sat down at the table across from Minerva, with Poppy Pomfry on her left and Pomona Sprout on her right. The tea was very good, one of Pomona's special blends. Narcissa told the other two what she had told Minerva. Poppy nodded and said, "You could simply take over one of the Black family houses. I'm pretty certain Sirius has no desire to return to Number Tweleve Grimauld."

Narcissa shook her head, "No, there are just too many memories there. And mother's decorating leaves much to be desired. There is just no way to get rid of all the dreadful things in that house. I don't want Draco exposed to all of that."

Narcissa well remembered the mounted heads of all the house elves that had served the Black family over the years. That and the portrait of her mother was not something a child should have to deal with. Pomona was in thought for a moment until she said, "I think there are a few homes in Hogsmeade that are vacant right now. You could purchase one of them. That might be better for you, seeing as you don't want to bring any attention to yourself."

"Perhaps, still, I don't exactly know what I'll do afterwards. I've never exactly had to fend for myself that much."

Minerva answered, "For now you should simply worry about a home. You can't continue to live at the Three Broomsticks, you'll be broke before you know it."

Narcissa nodded, "It's just... I just don't know where I could make our home and not be afraid. It wouldn't take much for someone to find out who Draco's father was. What am I supposed to do if someone hurts him because of Lucius?"

"All the more reason to make your home close to the school," Pomona said.

"Yes, the protective wards would stop anyone from harming him. Not to mention they'd have to get past Hagrid and his menagerie," Poppy said.

"The majority of the people in Hogsmeade are eager to put the war behind them, on both sides. We can also see if there is any work for a witch of your skills in the local community," Minerva said.

Narcissa felt more then a bit relieved. If anything this was something she hadn't felt in a long time, this feeling of actual hope. She could feel the tears start to fall down her cheeks. Narcissa picked up one of the napkins and started drying her eyes. "I'm sorry. It's just, ever since the fall I've been so afraid. First the trials, then the divorce. I just... I haven't slept well in so long. The only thing I really have left in the world is Draco."

The elder women at the table seemed understanding of their younger companion. Minerva said, "We've all had to go through some trying times from this war. All we can do is try to heal the wounds and continue on."

Narcissa sobbed, "But I ignored what my ex-husband was doing for so long. I stayed at home and just lived in my own little world while so many were out there dying. I never even tried to convince him to stop. And now here you all are, willing to help me out when so many others are more deserving. Merlin, you here at this school are taking care of an orphan of this war already. What right do I have to ask you for anything?"

Minerva kept her voice soft and understanding, "You are one of my former students, regardless of what you have or have not done. You have to heal as much as any of us do, and it's going to take time. This war has torn our world apart for long enough. If you really want Draco to grow up differently then how his father would want, then you have to forgive yourself. There will be hard looks and condemning stares, but in the long run you can prevail. Besides, Draco and Harry seem to be getting along famously. What better way to start over then by letting those two boys be friends. We will do what we can to support you in anyway within our power. This I promise you."

The other two women agreed, and after a moment Narcissa was able to pull herself together. She felt a tug at her robe and looked down to find Draco and Harry looking up at her. Harry lifted a small stuffed deer to her, offering her something to make her feel better. Draco reached around and hugged her legs. The simple acts of affection from the two babies were what helped the most.

"Harry doesn't seem to hold anything against you. That in and of itself is good enough for me," Minerva said, an honest smile on her face.

They turned the conversation on to more mundane topics while Narcissa listened in, stroking the stuffed deer as the boys played. Pomona said, "I heard Professor Slughorn talking about retiring at the end of the year."

"Yes, he has decided he wishes to spend the rest of his days in peaceful solitude," Minerva answered.

Poppy sighed, "Great, as if trying to find a DADA professor every year wasn't bad enough."

"Actually, Headmaster Dumbledore has convinced the Board of Governors to include Dueling in the curriculum next term. It will have two professors instructing it. The good news is that he already has the professors lined up and hired," Minerva said.

"Who did he get? Please tell me he didn't pull Mad-Eye Moody in to teach that class," Poppy begged. Zamora's first year broom riding class was bad enough, but now students would be coming in with all sorts of injuries and hexes.

"No, he's asked Sirius Black and Remus Lupin to teach that class," Minerva said. The other three women moaned at that announcement.

"Not those two," Pomona groaned.

"If it were just Lupin it be alright. Lycanthropy aside, he'd make a fine professor. He has the temperament for it," Poppy said.

"But Sirius as well? Those two together in the same class? Does Albus intend for us to even HAVE a school by end of term next year?" Pomona asked.

"He's also hired on Severus Snape to replace Slughorn as Potions Professor and Head of Slytherin," Minerva said. The other two professors groaned even louder then before. Narcissa paid attention, but was barely listening as she thought of the man responsible for her brothers freedom and her ex-husbands imprisonment.

"I'd better stock up on everything else," Poppy said at that.

"Snape is by far an excellent Potions Master, I will admit. But even if Albus thinks he's reformed, and I'll trust his judgment on that, does he even have any skills when it comes to teaching?" Pomona asked.

"We shall just have to see," Minerva said.

There was silence for a moment at the table, the sounds of the boys building something in the background. Narcissa broke the silence when she said, "And here I thought the war was over. I don't envy you having to keep those three from killing each other."

Poppy gave Narcissa a look, it was almost pleading, "You wouldn't happen to have any training as a healer would you? PLEASE TELL ME YOU COULD TAKE OVER FOR ME!"

The others laughed at Poppy's outburst.

With the help of the three professors, Narcissa had found a lovely home to move into. It was spacious, and with the help of her brother and the other professors of Hogwarts she was able to furnish it rather nicely. Narcissa had never really had a home she could leave her mark on. The Black family home was her mothers work, and Malfoy Manor was so ancient that Lucius never allowed her to change anything. The man was obsessed with keeping everything like the old days. Even their relationship. She had long come to realize that their marriage had been only based on bloodlines. There was no love there, no compassion. Just a pureblood snob wanting to ensure his family was still pure. That she had ever bought into that mentality sickened her.

Molly Weasley was a regular visitor to her home. The woman was already pregnant again, this time with her seventh child. She had had six boys, one of them Draco and Harry's age. When Narcissa asked her what she hoped it was, Molly said she hoped she had at least one daughter to pass on certain things to. Narcissa had to hand it to the Weasley matriarch, she was a caring mother and loved her large family.

During the days, Narcissa spent most of her time at the school. She'd take Draco there in the morning, and watch over the two boys until it was time for dinner. Dumbledore had been adamant about Harry remaining on the grounds. Narcissa respected his concern and never removed Harry from the safety of the schools protective wards. She had however insisted that the boy needed fresh air, and regularly took them out side the stone walls.

She had just sat both the boys down for a nap in Harry's nursery and closed the door. The crib was charmed so she would be notified if they awoke. She walked the ancient halls, looking in on some of the classes being taught. She remembered the years she spent here, and was saddened that nothing really out shown them. Her wedding had been a mostly stuffy affair, not a happy celebration. Fake smiles, boring conversation, loveless kisses, and horribly dutiful dancing.

The only joy in her life since had been the birth of her baby boy. Her one and only child. Narcissa didn't really think she'd ever be lucky enough to find someone who would marry her again, let alone someone who truly cared for her. In some ways it broke her heart, to know that she would never be anything more then what she had become. All she would ever do was raise Draco, and when that was done, what would be left for her? Nothing more then a life waiting for him to visit and bring his own family to see her. Nothing else.

She found her way into an empty classroom to find her brother Sirius and his friend Lupin arguing. She just stood there watching as they seemed to be fighting over something she didn't care about. She shook her head at the sight. Sirius in charge of children, what a frightening thought. She then felt someone come up behind her.

Her breath caught in her throat when Severus Snape said, "Is there any reason you two keep calling me here? And it had better not be another argument about how the classroom should be setup."

"I still say we should simply have some dueling platforms and go from there," Sirius said.

"Lovely, but you don't know how many students you will have. And the fact is it's a magical classroom, just change it to suit the lesson of the day," Severus countered.

Sirius seemed to mutter under his breath, he was like a dog that had been smacked with a rolled up paper. Severus just glared at the two, "So what is it this time? I am trying to get ready myself."

The two looked almost like children who had been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Remus spoke in a chided voice, "We were just discussing the lesson plan."

"Really," Severus said.

"I think we need to make sure all the kids understand the basic concept of dueling first. Sirius thinks it should all be practical," Remus said.

Severus shook his head, then buried his face in his hands, "What fresh Hell have I gotten myself into?"

"Why not an exhibition match?" Narcissa chimed in. Severus turned his head to regard the woman he was standing next to and nodded. Remus and Lupin hadn't even bothered to act like they saw her.

Sirius was the first of the pair to speak, "Cissy, didn't see you there."

"Our apologies," Remus said, she could notice the shabby looking werewolf was stepping on her brothers foot.

"I was just walking while the boys take a nap. Why not go one on one for your students first day? Let them see what they will be learning. Then go into concepts and tactics, and just work from there. Start simple, build it up," Narcissa recommended.

Severus nodded, "She makes an excellent point. Just try to keep it to a level they will understand. Shouldn't be too difficult for you two to relate to eleven year olds."

Sirius just shot Severus a look, and a sarcastic, "Ha Ha."

"And stop calling me up here to settle these disagreements. If you have issues about your lesson plans I suggest you take it up with Headmaster Dumbledore," Snape said. He then turned and left with the last word. Narcissa smiled at her brother and left the pair as well.

She didn't know what brought her to follow the other man, but before she knew it she was asking for him to wait. They were well outside the watchful eyes of her brother and his friend. Narcissa walked up to Severus and said, "I think we should talk."

Severus found he couldn't bring himself to look her in the eyes, "Perhaps."

"Are you busy this weekend?" she asked.

"Nothing more then preparing for my new vocation."

"Would you... could you come over to my home for tea then?" Narcissa asked.

Severus seemed very uncomfortable, "I would think you wouldn't want anything to do with someone who destroyed your life."

Narcissa placed a hand on his arm. Severus seemed to flinch at the contact, but she didn't remove her hand, "You did what you had to do. I just, would like for us to talk about what's happened."

Severus looked in her eyes, and after a moment said, "Alright, I will."

They stood there for a moment, until the charmed bracelet Narcissa wore went off indicating that the boys were waking up. She smiled at him and after exchanging their goodbyes turned and went to take care of the children. Neither of them knew they had been watched by two others.

"I can't believe she asked him over for tea. What is that girl thinking?" Sirius muttered.

"She's probably just clearing the air between them, Sirius. One invitation to tea isn't a proposal of marriage. It's probably best if they get it all out in the open now. They will be running into each other on and off for the next several years," Remus said.

"Snivillus better not be making a play for my sister," Sirius muttered.

Remus shook his head, "I would like to point out that she was the one to ask him."

"I don't like this."

"Well, you didn't like her last husband either."

"Exactly, I now know I must protect my sister from her horrid taste in men," Sirius said.

Remus just looked at him, then smacked him along the back of his head. Remus said, "You haven't exactly been the protective older brother before. Why are you starting now?"

"Are you going somewhere with this?" Sirius asked.

"She's your sister, and even though you've let her back in the family you haven't exactly been treating her well. Sure, you are nice to her when she's near and help her with some problems around her home. However, you haven't really tried to make amends with her. She's all the family you have left in the world, Padfoot."

"Maybe I haven't exactly been the best sibling in the world. So?"

"Now listen, and this is very important. You have NEVER been the best sibling in the world. She's trying to make a new life for herself and her son here. Part of that is dealing with someone who for all intents and purposes shattered her life. All I'm saying is let them get it all out in the open," Remus said.

Sirius muttered an ascent. Remus then said, "And if he does make a play for your sister later we give him hell for it and force him to prove his worth."

Sirius smirked at that.

Severus was nervous as he approached the Black house that Saturday. The man had spent the last several months looking over his shoulder where ever he went. The only place he was truly safe was within the school grounds. He hadn't been able to bring himself to look in on the baby that lived there as well. Too many dark thoughts plagued his mind. He had failed to save the one person who had ever truly meant something to him. The one person who had been, if only for a short while, his best friend. All he could do was protect and teach the boy now.

He still remembered the hurt look in Lily's eyes that day he was hanging upside down when he made his one greatest mistake. The long fall into darkness that had brought him into the service of the Dark Lord. So many regrets and a lifetime to reflect on them. This truly was Hell. A Hell he richly deserved.

He knocked on the door and waited. When it opened he was greeted by the lady of the house. Narcissa offered him a light smile and ushered him in. The home wasn't as grand as Malfoy Manor had been. That seemed to fit the demeanor of his hostess just fine. The only pictures on the walls were of her and Draco. There was one picture of Draco and Harry playing out on the school grounds. Narcissa seemed to keep things simple, even with the furnishings that had been offered to her from others.

They had tea out on the porch, over looking a small secure yard. Severus had to admit it was peaceful. They both sat down, Narcissa pouring him a cup of tea. Severus had long kept at least three bozarts on his person at all times, just in case.

"I hope you like it. I've had to start learning how to do things on my own. I've just been used to having house elves do everything for me," Narcissa said.

"It is a bit of an adjustment. We've all had to go through many of those. Igor Karkaroff owled me and asked if I would be interested in a job at Durmstrang. I told him I had already been hired by Dumbledore," Severus said.

"How did he escape a sentence in Azkaban?" Narcissa asked.

Severus smirked, "Begging is not beneath that man. He tried to sell out everyone he knew to get out of it. Unlike me however, he just gave names. I gave evidence. I'm pretty certain the Wizengamot just released him because of how pathetic he was."

Narcissa smirked, "So he didn't try the under Imperious defense?"

"I pretty much blew that out of the water for all the others. And Karkaroff didn't have the financial resources your ex-husband did. No, he was just a low-level minion. The trials wanted the highest ranked of our number," Severus said.

"And for your testimony and evidence you presented you were pardoned," Narcissa said.

Severus looked into his tea as he answered low, "I am free of the reach of Azkaban, not from my own demons."

There was a silence for a moment. Narcissa asked, "Was it what happened with the Potter's?"

Severus nodded, "You remember how things were in school before our fifth year."

"I would have thought you and Lily Evans had a bright future had things not changed between you," Narcissa said.

Severus simply relied, "I drove the nails into the coffin of what might have been with her a long time ago."

"But you never let it go did you?"

Severus shook his head, "No."

Narcissa nodded as they feel into a moment of silence. She thought for a moment, then said, "I didn't feel any heartache when the final papers were signed."

Severus looked at her, "No regrets at all?"

"Only that I never tried to stop what was happening. Maybe if I said something, I don't know," Narcissa said.

"I am sorry if I have caused you any hardship. My actions were less about ensuring my freedom, then clearing my conscience," Severus admitted.

"Do you have any regrets?" Narcissa asked.

"Too many to measure," Severus said.

The two sipped their tea and spoke about other things the rest of the afternoon. Narcissa asked about how his preparations for the next term were going. He admitted that the idea of teaching wasn't something he was looking forward to. She encouraged him to look at it as a challenge. Perhaps he could find a student that would be as good as he was. Severus asked how the tending to the boys was for her. She admitted it was the only thing she had left in the world to do.

"I don't think I will be able to do much else for the rest of my life," Narcissa said, admitting what she felt.

"Perhaps you underestimate yourself."

"Maybe, maybe I'm just blinded by all the darkness that's been around everything for so long. But I can't really see anything else right now," Narcissa said.

Severus took a moment before saying, "When one spends as much time in the shadows as we have, it is easy for the light to blind us when we step into it."

Narcissa smiled and rested a hand on top of his, "That is unusually perceptive for you."

Severus smiled, "I've had some time to think about it."

When he left that day, both of them felt worlds better. It was the first of many afternoons spent just talking over tea.

The changes were subtle at first. A smile here, a small laugh there. Remus and Sirius could tell something was going on. Severus and Narcissa seemed to accidentally bump into each other at seemingly odd times. It became truly obvious when one day the "Greasy Haired Git" had been seen much less greasy and much more happy. He was even spotted walking with Narcissa while she took the boys around the grounds by Hagrid. This did not bode well with the last two Marauders.

When the term began, Severus threw himself into his work with reckless abandon. His potions class was by far one of the more interesting the school had known. Instead of what the pair had expected, simply putting instruction up on the board and telling the students to follow them, he actually explained everything. How each ingredient interacted, what they were good for. By the time the first week was done, the first years were looking forward to finding out what they could do. Everyone second year and above were pleasantly surprised as well. Especially with Professor Snape not trying to find the best students so he could ride along their coattails. The best were simply singled out for more advanced study, and challenged so they wouldn't get board.

Remus and Sirius had their hands full with Dueling class, but Professors Black and Lupin made the class very interesting. They went through several matches those first few days to give the students and idea of what to expect. They started with the simple things, the basic elements, what the basic strategies and tactics were. Remus was quickly discovered to be the stronger of the pair when it came to basic instruction and getting the students to understand what they could do.. Sirius was the go to man to fine tune everything.

Narcissa would still come to the castle everyday with Draco and spend her time raising both him and Harry while everyone was busy. She'd have long conversations with several of the professors when they weren't in class. She had tea with Poppy everyday, took meals in the Great Hall at the head table, and even spoke with Hagrid as he tended the grounds. His wolf hound, Fang, was very protective of the babies in her care. She even took to carrying a camera to capture all those little moments. Like when the boys had fallen asleep on Fang as the hound curled up and kept watch.

She read to the boys almost constantly when they were inside. Professor Flitwick and Madam Prince felt that they would benefit from being read to as much as possible. Even if they were more interested in how a book tasted then what it said. Narcissa didn't see a problem, knowing that even now they were learning everything. It didn't surprise anyone when the boys started talking earlier then one would expect of a child. Narcissa had almost burst into tears when Harry's first words were "Mama." Draco then said the same thing. The two babies looked at each other.

"Mama?" Harry asked.

"Mama." Draco replied.

Then both looked up at her and said as happily as they could, "Mama!"

It was an adorable sight to be certain. Professor McGonagal could help but smile as she witnessed it.

The thing that really caught Remus and Sirius attention was how Narcissa started eating her meals next to Snape. Severus would actually smile and laugh as they talked, something that caused a couple of old Marauders eyes to widen. Dumbledore brushed it off, thinking it was a grand thing.

One night, Severus called both the Dueling professors down to his classroom in the dungeons. He looked at the two as they were standing there and smirked, "Don't act like that, you called me up to settle disputes between you two more then a few times. Consider this fair trade."

Remus conceded the point. Sirius took this moment to ask, "Just what exactly is going on between you and my sister?"

Severus sat down in his chair and leaned back, his hands steeped in front of his face, "I'm not entirely certain. I have to admit I have never felt as alive as I have in recent months. You can thank your sister for that."

Remus smirked, "Should we be picking out dress robes?"

Sirius glared at his best friend. Severus chuckled, "Not yet, it's a bit early for such things. Even then, there is something I need to do first."

"And what might that be, Professor?" Sirius asked.

"I need to shed the last vestiges of skin from the old days," Severus said.

Remus and Sirius both raised an eyebrow at that analogy. Remus asked, "What do you mean?"

"Time to put old scores behind me, behind all of us. Fact is you two, it's long past time we set aside the old grudges, the vendettas, everything."

Remus nodded, "It would make working in the same building difficult if we let those wounds fester."

"You just expect us to forgive everything?" Sirius asked. Remus could tell he was not pleased.

"No, there is too much between the three of us for that. All three of us have reason to detest the other. It is best to simply forget, or start fresh," Severus said.

"And how do you propose we do this?" Sirius asked.

Severus didn't answer immediately. He simply got up and pulled something from a cabinet in the back of the class room. The men looked it over, finding it to be a container of liquid fire. Severus looked them over and said, "By you two helping me cleanse myself of the Dark Mark."

To say they were shocked was an understatement. No one knew exactly how the mark was branded into the flesh of the Death Eaters. What Severus was proposing would be extremely dangerous for him personally. He could lose the arm from the elbow if they did it wrong. And even then, there was no guarantee that it would work. With the mark invisible now due to the fall of the Dark Lord they couldn't be certain it wouldn't come back.

It was a showing of great trust by the man they had made miserable during school. Remus was impressed. Sirius less so, but understanding of what was going on. Remus asked, "What do you have for burns? We don't want to take the risk of you dying. That would spoil the moment."

Severus smirked, "I have some salve to treat the wound. Because of the mark, and the method I believe is needed to remove it, there will be some scarring. That is unavoidable. But this should do the job."

"And if it doesn't?" Sirius asked.

Snape looked at him solemnly, "If the mark returns then we have larger concerns to deal with."

The two professors agreed. The mark returning would mean a return of Voldemort, and the boys being in great danger. Snape sat down in his chair and undid the top of his robes. He was wearing a white linen shirt under the dark black fabric and stood there in only the black pants and white shirt. He rolled up his left sleeve and held out his arm. Remus took the liquid fire and examined the area. After being told where the mark should be he prepared. Sirius stood by ready to step in should it be needed.

Remus took a moment to find something for Snape to bite down on, a thick cloth rolled up into a thick guard. The pair looked at Snape, and Remus asked, "You certain about this?"

Severus didn't even hesitate, "Do it."

Remus poured the potion on the area in question. Instantly it burst into flames, burning the flesh of the other man. Severus bit down hard on the guard and restrained himself from crying out. They let the fire do it's work as it burned away flesh and with it the mark. They hoped this did the job at least. Both Remus and Sirius flinched watching the scalding of skin.

After half a minute Remus pulled his wand and doused the flames. The room smelled of burned flesh, and the only sound was the pained breathing of Severus Snape. Remus took some of the salve and applied it to the area they had burned. He then conjured some bandages and bound the area. The three men started fresh that night. They didn't expect to become friends, or even pleasant acquiescences. But this had given them the chance to at least be allies should the worst happen.

Severus proposed to Narcissa a week later.

Narcissa smiled as she was pulled from her memories by a pair of arms wrapping around her waist. She felt her husband hold her close as the kids counted down to the New Year. When they hit zero she kissed Severus. It had started out a dark time for her. But now, after everything, she could honestly say that she had no regrets.