Dog Days Are Done
Severus billowed into his office in a swirl of black and snow. He whisked his wand to dry the mess and sent his cloak flying to the pegs along the wall. "Morning, Weasley."
"Morning, sir!" Hermione chirped. She immediately produced a parchment. "Your solicitor's owled. You've been approved for a grant on that long-term cruciatus damage potion. And the patent's come through on the um…menstrual cramp…thingy."
"Good." He smirked. "Any incidents today?"
"Godfrey's melted another cauldron but that's the extent of the damage so far." A door opened behind the desk and a plume of smoke rolled out. "Damn. Spoke too soon." Hermione headed toward the door. "I'll check it out."
The kettle whistled on the single burner by the window. Severus poured himself a cuppa as he looked out into the busy streets of Diagon Alley. A month had passed since he'd taken up here in his own lab. It had been…disastrous, nearly. Employees devastated by his leaving the Ministry had scrambled to join his project, creating a hiring debacle (though he was remarkably flattered so many wanted to follow him). Mrs. Weasley nee Granger had been a non-issue – of course she would be along. He wasn't certain he could work without her. She kept him sane, and he rather liked the idea of her filling his shoes someday.
The search for proper facilities had been another calamity. He had Draco and Narcissa to thank for their building, really. The combination of Draco's haggling skills and Narcissa's social artistry had won him this prized corner property – a stately old building formerly inhabited by a wizarding nursery. Still there was a room upstairs filled with toys and books and such. Teddy played there when he came to visit. The child-wolf's potion had remained successful and was in development for distribution. Amazing the number of people who came forward with a use for it…
A great many people came to visit the lab; Andromeda, Teddy and Ted, Harry Potter and one Weasley or another. Draco often stopped by to prop his feet on Severus' desk and complain about some twat or other from his work. Even Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom dropped in when they were about.
He found it nice to be visited, to be thought of. It was fine to have friends of a sudden, and something akin to family.
It was her face by far that brightened his offices the most; bringing him lunch nearly every day, and sometimes waiting for him to leave just so they could walk home together. Passersby nodded to them on the streets, usually smiled. And Narcissa smiled back, confidence in her gait and her arm hooked through his.
The kiss at Hermione's wedding had come to be known as 'The Kiss Seen Round the Wizarding World.' It had appeared in the Daily Prophet's social gossip section, Witch Weekly's romance centerfold and had graced the cover of the Lovegoods' bloody Quibbler much to the couples' embarrassment.
But the myriad responses had been surprisingly positive, ranging from quizzical disbelief, to giddy teenaged titters, to an outpouring of support. In fact, there had only been one truly negative response from one Lucius Malfoy who paid an exorbitant amount of money to have his useless opinion printed. Amusingly, it had been one Draco Malfoy who had in turn paid an exorbitant amount of money to have Lucius' opinion summarily stricken from all posterity. The action had sealed Severus' idea that the boy was growing into a fine wizard, after all.
Narcissa had been predictably put out by her ex-husband's behavior. A dish had broken and supper had burnt, but Severus had managed to distract and reassure her nicely, resulting in their first dining table tryst – their first.
Because it seemed nearly a year after they'd embarked on their odd romance, they still couldn't keep eyes or hands off each other.
Peace changed people, Severus realized. Love changed people. The war was over at last for everyone and life could resume anew. The dog days were over for little Teddy Lupin, giving his grandparents only joy to anticipate.
And the wait was over for a witch who'd never known love, and the wizard who'd believed he would never know it again.
AN: Thanks to all who have followed, reviewed and patiently awaited the telling of this long tale. You have my sincere gratitude and have made me proud to finally call this piece complete. So now... What's next?