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Haste


England


June 23rd, 1815


The last week had been hell. Exhausted, I had been unable to Apparate more than short distances at a time, barely sleeping, hardly eating and terribly anxious. Would my wife welcome me home? I hardly knew what to expect. I longed for the Hermione I had come to know in my dreams: accepting, affectionate, and comforting.

I stood now on the steps of Spinner's End, looking at the house that had obviously been shut up for some time. I staggered slightly, catching myself with one hand on the balustrade. She had left me. The pain was unspeakably intense.

The crack of an apparition made me turn to see Draco striding through the wards. He lifted one hand in greeting, a smile lighting his face. Once he had a good look at me, however, the smile faltered and he took the steps two at a time.

"Merlin, have you slept?"

I leaned heavily on him, "Where is she?"

His brow furrowed and his cool grey eyes searched my face. "Paix, of course. Come, we will side along. You look exhausted."

I was exhausted and filthy, in rumpled unwashed clothing that I hadn't even bothered to attempt to charm clean. Draco hauled me down the stairs bodily, casting nonverbal cleansing and refreshing spells as we headed for the Apparition point.

He turned me into the apparition and with a soft crack we were sucked through the void. I stumbled as we landed, falling to my knees. Draco hovered at my elbow, concerned.

I was on the little lawn in front of Paix Manor, and from my position I could see the door inside the portico open and two figures hurry out.

Hermione ran towards me, head uncovered and skirts flapping. She almost fell on me in her haste to embrace me. She was crying, I realized, as she pressed a damp cheek to mine.

"Oh, Severus, you're home."

Over her shoulder I caught sight of the second figure, Narcissa Malfoy. She stood next to her son, the softest look I had ever witnessed on her usually cold face.

I moved to get up, and Draco took one of my arms while Hermione clung to the other.

"What is the matter? Are you hurt?"

I shook my head slowly and stumbled again.

"Exhausted, I would wager, and magically depleted," Draco murmured over my left shoulder.

I swallowed thickly, "Hermione…"

She turned to look up at me, smiling. "You will soon feel better."

I blinked and stared down at my small wife, whose gently rounded stomach protruded just as I remembered. She placed a protective hand over it and beamed. Suddenly, though my mental faculties were clouded and I could barely speak, the dreams made complete sense.

Draco was easing me through the doorway and into the hall. I heard Narcissa as though from a great distance, directing servants.

I smiled and pulled my wife close to me, my face buried in her hair. "Hermione," I whispered.

I was finally, truly home at last.


Edited for grammar, spelling, capitalization, & punctuation on April 30th, 2013 [courtesy of renaid, who loves our stop-over-ending].

Edited for formatting and author's notes March 3rd, 2015.