The usual disclaimers apply.

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2 years, 8 months and 17 days later:

He lay sideways, propped up on one elbow, had pushed his hair from his eyes and merely looked for a moment. He loved seeing her sleeping so peacefully, sometimes, when she dreamed, she even seemed to smile – and her lips twitched slightly. She was one of those people who used the entire bed while sleeping. At the moment, she was on her side, facing him, her legs spread out in the bed, one on top of the covers she had otherwise pulled up to her chin, one of her arms extended, her hand touching his stomach without her knowing, the other next to it. Her hair was spread out over the pillow, the light brown contrasting with the white she was lying on. One curl next to the other. It was even more unruly than usual – but maybe that was because of that shower they had taken together the night before – afterwards falling into bed with her hair still wet. And his hair still wet. And the rest of them quite wet.

He absolutely adored those curls. Liked pulling on them and seeing them bounce back.

But his favourite part of her was still – even after all this time – her eyelashes. He leant over and stared at her closed eyes. He couldn't remember how often he had stared at them, analysed them, touched them. Soft, tickling, tingling, wonderful eyelashes.

And he couldn't remember how often he had tried to count them. How often he had bent over just like this, in the early hours of the morning when the rest of the family was asleep and she lay there sleeping. When the children were still in their rooms and he had the time, before they had breakfast and before she went to work and before they sent Hugo to his school and before Ophelia and Rose went to their school, before Zoe began her crying, and before he went to Knockturn Alley to open his apothecary – before all the mayhem broke loose. Those were the minutes, sometimes hours, he loved the most. When she was just his and they were alone and he had time to try and count her eyelashes.

"Are you doing it again?" she grumbled sleepily.

"Go back to sleep," he replied softly. "And don't open your eyes."

She groaned. "Which one?"

"The left one. But don't open them."

She cracked her right eye open and looked at him leaning over her, smiling. "Good morning," she whispered.

"Close them, I said," he argued. "Don't move."

"Can I at least get a good-morning-kiss?" she complained and her eye twitched. It was too late now anyway.

"You moved," he complained.

She opened her eyes and snuggled into him a moment later. "You're weird with your obsession with my eyelashes, Severus," she spoke softly into his chest.

He shook his head and wrapped her tightly in his arms. "I'm not," he whispered. "And I'm not obsessed with your eyelashes."

"Oh but you are," she laughed. "And I don't mind one bit."

He growled and was only silenced when she tipped her head back a little and captured his lips with hers, kissing him gently.

He groaned, and grimaced when he heard voices outside their bedroom door. They had warded it the night before, after the shower, after the christening of Zoe and after all the people had gone. Well, he had to admit, there hadn't been that many. Judith, Jonathan, of course, Mary, of course, and, Hermione's insistence, Potter. Of course Potter had to be there. But he had come along and he could see that Hermione had been a little – just a tad, really, for a moment or two – pensive about the entire Weasley-matter.

After a nice, long temper-tantrum of Ronald Weasley – they had ignored them. Every single Weasley. Was fine by him. Not by the children, definitely not. But according to Knockturn Alley gossip, the Weasleys were of the opinion that Hermione deserved such a mean old man like him. And they were probably true.

But he had her. She was his little wifey (though she would probably hit him when he said this to her), the mother of his youngest, 4 month old daughter, a good stepmother to Ophelia (thought she preferred him to read to her, to console her, to be with her), mother to his stepchildren. Hugo and Rose who referred to him as – here it came – Seddy (a blend, Ophelia, who had made it up, despite herself calling her Daddy, of Severus and Daddy) and who had accepted him and preferred him to read their bedtime-stories.

And Hugo had turned to him in a way. Especially after Zoe had been born. Four females in the house – and still, Hugo and he secretly knew that it was them that ruled the family. Rose was the one who always begged to go to the apothecary with him. And Ophelia was always first in his arms when he came home at night and pulled away from Mary or Hermione – depending on how late he was.

Zoe – Zoe was amazing. Even though she did not do much yet. She smiled though when he picked her up and he loved her. He loved all of them. Maybe – just maybe – Ophelia a little more. But he tried not to show it too much.

"Mymy?" his girl called from outside the door and Hermione next to him pulled away completely and groaned.

"Your turn, Severus," she smiled sweetly.

"You're...," he didn't continue and merely got up, sending her a glare for a moment.

"But I love you," she replied, muffled as he head was back on her pillow and she had pulled the covers over her again.

"Yes, yes," he rolled his eyes and unwarded the door quickly and his stepdaughter and stepson ran into his legs.

"Seddy, Zoe's awake!" Hugo hugged his legs and darted past him after a moment into their bedroom – and Rosie – Rose smiled at him and a moment later, had jumped on their bed and he had to chuckle a little evilly.

Now the only question remained where his Ophelia was – but his girl was bright. And she had picked up Zoe and carried her carefully towards him. The eyes always on the baby and the floor and he smiled quietly.

"Good morning, my little witch," he said softly and she stood – and looked up and smiled.

"Daddy, I think Zoe's hungry," she said and nodded her head towards the baby that seemed to want to eat the dummy.

He hummed in agreement. "You into our bedroom and I'll bring the bottle," he said gently and bent down – just for a moment – and kissed his girls' foreheads quickly – Zoe's first, then Ophelia's – and when he watched the two of them disappear into the bedroom, he summoned the bottle for his youngest daughter and smirked a little guiltily. They kept magic, usually, to a minimum in their house. Mary never used it, he never did, Hermione never did. It would be, eventually, be difficult enough for Hugo. And they didn't have to add to that.

He remained standing in the doorway and stared at his family – his family – in the bed. Hermione in the middle and Zoe in her arms, Ophelia and Rose and Hugo by her side and she suddenly looked up at him and smiled at him and he couldn't help but smile at his family and feel very, very content. And he knew that he had done something right in his life.

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The End

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My dear readers, my darling reviewers, everyone who ever read a single chapter of this – THANK YOU!

I am very glad I could give you pleasure with this little story of mine – it gave me a lot of pleasure writing it.

I started writing on September 24th – can you believe that? Whew.

Thank you!

[and except, some time in the future, one-shots about Ophelia and Severus and Hermione and Rose and Hugo and the rest of them!]