Eleven full moons.
It had been eleven full moons since Hermione had cured Lycanthropy.
And Remus still looked at her just the same.
The same wonderment and youthful happiness filled his eyes. The same gleeful smile spread across his face. The same carefree laughter still filled his lungs as he gazed up at the luminescent moon hanging in the sky.
On the second full moon without a transformation Hermione and Remus started a tradition. They had gone back to Remus' cottage in the woods for the night, just to be certain that the potion worked and that the original batch hadn't been a lucky deviance from the normal.
On that night Remus procured an old wireless radio. They stood outside his cottage under the moonlight, holding hands and watching the gentle creeping of the moon into the starry sky. After they were certain it worked, Remus turned to Hermione and laughed and smiled and kissed her. Then he summoned his old wireless and turned it on, tuning it to a station that played old Muggle slow tunes. A particular slow jazz piece started rasping through the radio. Remus pulled Hermione into an ungainly dance on the grass in the front of his cottage. He grinned as he twirled and dipped her. Hermione just tried to keep up with his superior dance moves—she had always been quite clumsy when it came to spontaneous dancing like this—and take in all his happiness.
That night was the inception of a tradition that lasted through every full moon. Without fail, Remus and Hermione found their way outside and danced under the moonlight. Even tonight, as the full moon fell on the date of a long-awaited dinner with the whole extended family at the Burrow, they were going to dance.
They had already eaten dinner with the others before Remus tapped Hermione on the shoulder, pulling her away from her conversation with Ginny and Luna and showing her his wristwatch. "Three minutes," he murmured, lips quirking into a smile as he tapped the glass of the watch.
"You get the wireless," she replied, "I'll meet you outside."
"Perfect," he said, winking at her before he slipped away.
Hermione wished that she could have known Remus as a teenager. Certainly he would have often acted as he did on nights like tonight.
She met him outside exactly two minutes and fifty-five seconds later, having broken away from a conversation about Wrackspurts just in time. He was waiting in the grassy area just outside the front door of the Burrow. Muffled voices could be heard inside the house, but only distantly. When he turned on the radio Hermione was easily able to forget the others. This was a moment for them alone.
The radio jumped to life as a more upbeat tune began to play. They took a moment to watch the moon rise over the horizon, creeping into the sky as slowly as always. It was strange how the moon had once frightened them so much. Now it was nothing but a memory of how things had once been. It also served as a reminder to Hermione that she always had to continue making that potion, continue distributing it to werewolves, and continue teaching others how to brew it.
"Dance with me?" Remus asked, drawing Hermione out of her thoughts with an outstretched hand.
"Of course," she replied, taking his hand and allowing him to pull her close.
They swayed to the music for several moments. Hermione inspected Remus, wanting the memory of this night to remain clearly in her mind. He had shaved the stubble on his face just before they left for the Burrow. Hermione had insisted; it simply was getting too long. Plus, he looked dashingly handsome when he was clean-shaven. Actually, he always looked dashingly handsome. Perhaps that was just Hermione's affection speaking.
The music picked up the pace as a piano melody began to play. Remus dipped Hermione suddenly, and she squealed in surprise. When he pulled her back up he was grinning. She couldn't resist breaking out of step to lean forward and kiss him soundly on the lips. He tried to continue dancing and kissing her at the same time, but it hardly worked. They broke apart from the kiss a moment later and continued dancing.
Remus twirled her several times, and then Hermione insisted that she should be allowed to twirl him. He bent over awkwardly to fit under her arm and spun around, kissing her again once he was done.
After another moment the music stopped. Remus was immediately kissing her, on her nose and forehead and then her lips. "I'm still in awe of you," he murmured between kisses, "every month I'm in awe of what you've managed."
She didn't get a chance to respond because he was suddenly kissing her deeply and passionately. When his hands pulled her body closer and his tongue slipped into her mouth, gliding against her lips, Hermione forgot what he'd even said or what she wanted to say in response.
A burst of muffled laughter from inside the house brought her back to reality.
"Remus," she whispered, detaching their lips, "everyone's still inside."
"Don't care," he responded, kissing her neck and finding the sweet spot just below her ear.
Hermione moaned. "They can see us through the windows."
"Then we'd better put on a good show," he said, punctuating the words by pressing his hips into hers. She could feel his arousal, hard and hot against her lower stomach.
"Remus!" she squeaked, scandalized at his behavior. Perhaps this was what he was like as a teenager.
"Fine," he conceded, breaking his lips away and grasping her hand, "let's find a tree."
"A tree?" she hissed, allowing him to pull her further away from the house. She looked over her shoulder at the house, seeing the shadows of people through the windows, hearing their distant voices.
Remus was quick to find a large oak tree, the only one in the vicinity of the house. She found herself laughing at the sight of it. Remus joined in on her laughter, still tugging her towards the tree. He pulled Hermione behind it and pressed her against the trunk. His lips were on hers once more, fervent and heated. Hermione forgot all her concerns about those back in the house when his hand cupped her breast over her light cotton dress and flicked at a nipple.
She supposed Remus' apparent… excitement could be attributed to the fact that despite the potion, the usual full moon symptoms still occurred. They still felt restless before the full moon, their senses still increased dramatically, and the heightened sex drive was still just as strong. The difference was that without the transformation Hermione and Remus both found that they didn't pay the symptoms any mind. They forgot most of the time, and it was a blissful forgetfulness.
Remus shifted his hips forward, grinding his hardness into Hermione's center. She gasped into his mouth. "Remus," she whispered, "I want you."
"I know," he mumbled, one of his hands hiking her dress up while the other pulled aside her knickers and pressed against her center, dipping into her wetness and brushing against her clit.
Hermione gasped again, bucking into his hand unwillingly. "Fuck, Remus," she hissed, "Just get inside me already."
He grinned at her roguishly, "I love it when you talk dirty."
She smacked him lightly on the shoulder before leaning in to kiss him once more. By the time she pulled back for air he had undone his trousers and then somehow retrieved his wand, banishing her knickers. He thrust into her without preamble, and Hermione knew he wanted her just as badly as she wanted him.
They hissed together at the sensation. Remus began moving at a steady pace. Hermione lifted her legs and wrapped them around his waist, hooking her ankles and pulling him closer while his hands cupped her hips to hold her against the tree. Her back was still pressed against the trunk, though she found that she didn't mind the way the bark scratched at her exposed back. All she could focus on was the blissful feeling of Remus inside of her, stretching and filling her so perfectly.
It took them only moments to reach their completion. Hermione had to resist the urge to scream, remembering foggily that her friends were all still gathered inside the house no more than one hundred paces away. Instead she clutched Remus' shoulders and hissed obscenities as he drove into her.
When they both came down from their high they simply leaned against the tree, catching their breath. Remus pressed lazy kisses against Hermione's exposed shoulder. "You've become much more vulgar with time, you know," he mumbled between kisses.
"What?" she furrowed her brow and gazed down at him.
"You like to curse a lot," he explained, his mouth finding her lips and kissing languidly, "and I quite enjoy the way you curse."
She rolled her eyes, but still gave him a fond smile. "We need to get back inside before they wonder where we've gone."
He reluctantly nodded, stepping away and releasing Hermione from the tree. She straightened her dress and pulled out her wand to cast a cleaning charm over the pair of them.
Together they moved around the tree and started towards the house. As they approached, the front door opened and a dark figure stepped outside. Hermione would recognize that rigid posture and those imposing black robes anywhere.
Severus Snape stepped out beside the doorway, letting the door swing shut behind him while he brought a cigarette up to his mouth. He retrieved his wand from the pocket of his robes and flicked it, causing a soft light to catch at the end of the cigarette.
"Severus Snape," Hermione said, loudly enough to sound intimidating, "put that damned thing out!" She began to stride towards the house at a renewed pace, Remus trailing closely behind.
Severus' head snapped up to look at the approaching couple. He wrinkled his nose at them, the cigarette remaining between his fingers while he took a long drag.
Hermione gagged, getting a whiff of the smell and grimacing. "That's disgusting. I thought we talked about this. It's horribly bad for you. Do you want lung cancer?"
He rolled his eyes. "I'm a grown man. It's one damned cigarette."
"Oh don't give me that! I know it's more than one," she quipped, arriving in front of him, Remus beside her.
Severus' eyes flicked between Remus and Hermione suspiciously before flicking towards the tree they'd come from. His brows pulled together until Hermione tried to reach forward and grab the cigarette from his hand. He immediately raised his hand in the air, holding it just out of her reach. "Stop that, you infernal woman!"
Hermione let up, stepping back and glaring at him. Beside her Remus just shook his head and smiled.
Severus took another drag, muttering a moment later, "I don't understand where you get off thinking you can mother me like you do for Potter and Weasley."
"I mother people who need mothering," she retorted, "now tell me, why have you not quit yet? You told me you were going to quit."
"I did quit for a while," he muttered, "but then I suddenly found myself forced into a horrendous dinner full of insufferable Gryffindors." He nodded back towards the house as he said these words.
"Oh, quit complaining," Hermione replied. "Besides, we're not all Gryffindors. Draco and Luna are here."
Severus scoffed. "As if I'd want to talk to either of them. What with their overwhelming need to snog each other at every moment."
Hermione quirked a brow as she considered the truth to that statement. Draco and Luna were probably the most surprising couple that had surfaced over the past year or so. Yet they appeared to be hopelessly in love, and their emotional attachment was nothing compared to their physical attachment. She'd seen more of them snogging than even Harry and Ginny—and that was saying something.
"Let me remind you," Severus murmured, "that I have always objected to come to these… social gatherings."
The way he said those final words sounded all too melodramatic. Hermione couldn't help the grin that crossed her face. Beside her, Remus was smiling calmly as well. "Just get your arse back inside and socialize," Hermione said after a moment, grabbing Remus by the arm and pulling him gently past Severus, towards the house. She caught a glimpse of a look shared between Severus and Remus as they passed but decided to ignore it.
Severus and Remus had become rather good friends in the past several months. As Severus started working with them on the distribution and marketing of the potion, he'd spent much more time with Remus. How they'd gone from childhood enemies to good friends in their lifetime was beyond her.
Severus didn't work at Hogwarts anymore. Instead he did independent potions research, brewing and selling potions in his free time to make a living. In addition, a large amount of his time was spent helping Hermione in various ways with the Wolfsbane potion. Despite his bad habits such as smoking and being a complete irritable social recluse, she was happy to have him around.
Together Hermione and Remus passed Severus and entered the Burrow, stopping just inside the door. Voices could be heard around the corner. Hermione stopped and turned to look at Remus. "How do I look?" she asked, running a hand through her hair.
He smirked and lifted a hand to pat down the hair on top of her head. "Like you've just been thoroughly shagged," he murmured.
She rolled her eyes and straightened the collar of his shirt. "Well you're not much better."
He shrugged and turned towards the source of all the other voices. "Shall we?"
Hermione nodded, falling into step beside him.
It was Ron's voice that called out to her. He strode to her side immediately upon her entrance to the room and grabbed her arm. "Settle an argument for me, okay?"
She inspected Ron for a moment before looking behind him, where Draco stood with his arms crossed.
"Okay…" Hermione agreed, turning back to Ron. She felt Remus at her side, watching the boys with the same confusion.
"I had three broken ribs from Rostov case, right?" He looked at Hermione with bright, pleading eyes.
"Three broken- Ronald… what does that matter?" Hermione placed her hands on her hips.
"Malfoy doesn't believe that I chased him through Berlin and arrested him with broken ribs." As he said this, he nodded back to Draco, who still watched with disbelieving expressions. "But I did," Ron persisted, "you healed my ribs after!"
Hermione narrowed her eyes and looked from Ron, to Draco, and then back to Ron. "Is this some sort of male testosterone sort of thing?" she asked slowly.
"Probably," Remus muttered under his breath.
"Most definitely," Harry agreed, an amused smirk on his face as approached the group from around the corner, Ginny at his side.
"They're constantly trying to prove who's tougher," Ginny added, "why anyone ever thought they'd be good partners is beyond me."
Ron and Draco had recently become partners in the Auror Department, and now worked on virtually all cases together. Before about a month ago, Harry and Ron had been partners and worked exceptionally well together. Then Harry had been promoted to the investigative wing of the department and Ron had been in need of a new partner. Somehow, around the same time, Draco had finished his training (after deciding to become an Auror four months earlier). Naturally, Ron and Draco were paired up.
"I don't think I'm going to answer that," Hermione said, looking back at Ron, who huffed in frustration. Behind him, Draco grinned.
"Harry will back me up!" Ron said, turning to his friend, "you heard all about the case after it happened!"
Harry shrugged, a mischievous grin on his face, "I never saw the broken ribs. You could have been lying for all I know…"
Ron groaned. "Forget it," he said, storming off into the kitchen in search of food. Draco was left with a triumphant smile.
"You really ought to stop provoking him, Draco," Hermione said pointedly.
"Can't," Draco answered, "it's just about the only entertainment I have nowadays."
Hermione rolled her eyes and turned away from Draco, who was now going off in search of Luna. "Is Neville here yet? Remus and I have to speak to him."
Ginny nodded. "He's in with the others."
Hermione followed Ginny's gaze around the corner, where everyone else was standing around, talking. It was a sea of red hair, with only a couple people who didn't have the matching gene. She picked out Neville easily, talking to Fred and George. Remus was at her side as they approached.
Neville grinned at the sight of them, and Fred and George stepped away. He hugged Hermione tightly and then shook hands with Remus.
"I've heard that you decided to take the post at Hogwarts," Remus said, "congratulations. You have a very rewarding experience ahead of you."
Neville grinned, "thanks, Remus. That's good to hear. I'm excited for it."
"It's going to be amazing," Hermione added, "and you're going to be the best Herbology Professor Hogwarts has seen in years."
A slight blush colored Neville's cheeks. "I don't know if I can be better than Sprout…"
"You're extraordinarily talented in Herbology, Neville," Hermione assured him, "and now everyone knows that you're the main reason the Wolfsbane alteration was a success."
"Maybe," Neville mumbled. "So how did all the deliveries go? Did you get it done in time?"
Hermione nodded. "We cut it a little close with the last one," Remus said, "but we still made it in time."
The deliveries he was referring to were, of course, the Wolfsbane. Or, as it was officially known, the Granger-Longbottom Wolfsbane. That was its legal title, as decided when they'd written up the paper and gotten it patented and funded. Hermione still felt a little odd putting her name on it like that, but it was nice to share the title with Neville.
The Granger-Longbottom Wolfsbane, after being completely finished and approved by the Ministry, had been ready for distribution. That was what Hermione, Remus, Neville, and many of their other friends had been doing for the past eight months. It was proving to be difficult to distribute, as there were many, many werewolves in the world. The lycanthropes that were connected to normal Wizarding society were easy to help—they simply had to file with the Ministry of Magic (or their country's Wizarding governing body) and pick up their potions before the full moon.
Many lycanthropes lived in packs, disconnected from society after being so fed up with life as social outcasts. Those were the difficult ones to reach. Still, Hermione and Remus worked tirelessly at finding all the packs they could. Once they located a new pack, they would go visit the group together and try to explain their potion and its advantages. Many packs refused. They were wary of a potion and the monthly transformation was actually a normal, accepted part of their lives now.
Some packs accepted the potion, and that was where they made the deliveries, every day for a week before the full moon. Usually it was just Hermione and Remus. In the beginning, Severus had accompanied them often. They would meet the pack, make sure everyone took their potions, and answer any questions that members of the packs had.
As for the packs that refused the potion, Remus and Hermione were working very hard to find ways to convince them otherwise. They'd changed the minds of a few groups, but many still resisted, some even becoming hostile with them. Still, Hermione would always want to keep trying. She knew that some of these werewolves were biting innocent people during full moons, accidental or not, and she didn't want anyone else to get bitten if it could be avoided. That was one of the lucky advantages of the potion—once taken, the werewolf could not infect any others on the full moon with full-blown lycanthropy, simply because they had not transformed.
"Good to hear" said Neville, nodding at the two of them.
"We wanted to talk to you about something," Hermione said a moment later, lowering her voice and sharing a look with Remus.
"Yeah?" Neville's smile fell as he watched them.
"How easily can you get your hands on Wither Root?" She asked.
Neville's brows pulled together. "Wither Root? Why do you need Wither Root?"
"The potion," Remus answered simply.
"It's rumored to have some sort of stabilizing qualities," Hermione explained.
Comprehension crossed Neville's face. "To make the potion permanent," he whispered.
Hermione and Remus both nodded. It was something they had been keeping quiet. Only Severus and now Neville knew about it, but surely many others expected it. The current version of Wolfsbane had to be repeatedly taken every month. Naturally, they would want to create a new version that only had to be taken once in a lifetime. The problem was that it was proving extremely difficult. Even Severus was completely stumped, and when Hermione had gone to him with questions she had been rather desperate.
"I don't know…" Neville muttered. "It's really hard to get ahold of Wither Root. Distribution is terribly restricted by the Ministry, as I'm sure you're aware of."
"Oh we are aware," Remus said. They'd tried at least six different apothecary distributors so far.
Neville thought hard for a moment before looking up and speaking again, "I don't know for sure if I can help, but I'll look into it. Just… make sure you're careful. It's restricted for a reason."
Hermione smiled. "I know. Thank you so much Neville." She hugged him quickly and when she pulled back she began to make herself comfortable on the couch. "Now, tell me how things with Hannah are going."
Hermione and Neville chatted for a long time. Remus wandered off after pressing a kiss to Hermione's forehead. She assumed he was going to find Sirius, and her suspicion was confirmed several minutes later when she saw Sirius, Remus, and Harry talking animatedly across the room.
The three of them looked sublimely happy. That was one of the things Hermione was most thankful for after the war—that they had all ended up happy. Harry had Ginny and his successful career as an Auror. Sirius had joined the Aurors as well, having picked up where he left off so many years ago (he'd been a rather talented Auror in his early twenties). And Remus, of course, had the potion and Hermione and everyone around them. One of the things Hermione was thankful for more than anything was that she had Remus and that he was happy. He deserved it more than anyone in her opinion.
After talking to Neville for a while Hermione tried to make her way over to Sirius, Remus, and Harry. However, Ginny pulled her away before she could. She hugged Hermione with a sudden tight embrace that rivaled the hugs of Molly.
"What's going on?" Hermione asked, returning the hug with surprise.
"I never got to thank you for your part in the article," Ginny explained. "It's helped me tremendously. Kepler hasn't stop praising me since it was published."
Hermione smiled. "Walter Kepler is actually praising someone? Unheard of!" Kepler was Ginny's boss at the Prophet (where Ginny had begun working after the complete overhaul of its staff and management). From all the stories Hermione had been told, she knew Kepler was a ruthless boss who absolutely refused to give Ginny any sort of special treatment just because she was the fiancée of Harry Potter.
"I know!" Ginny enthused, hugging Hermione again. "Thank you so much."
"It's really no problem, Ginny," Hermione said, "I only gave you one quote and the address of that Ministry Worker."
Ginny had been assigned a tough article a few weeks ago, one that her boss didn't think she was capable of completing. It was supposed to cover the wealth of illegal underground operations in Britain since the end of the war. Hermione knew a thing or two about these underground operations since her work looking into werewolf populations and potion distribution. She'd given Ginny the address of a Ministry Worker who was known for his work in the underground potion distribution rings. This had allowed Ginny to show up unceremoniously at his door and get a surprisingly good quote out of him.
"It still helped," Ginny said. "I think I may no longer be the lowly novice at the Prophet."
Hermione smiled again. "I'm glad." It was good that Ginny was moving up. She'd been struggling to improve her reputation as a reporter, and all their friends wanted her reputation to improve, as it was certain that she could report things that were accurate and unbiased.
After speaking to Ginny for a few moments more, Hermione managed to slip over to Remus, who was now talking to Sirius alone. She sidled up to him, wrapping an arm around his waist and smiling at Sirius. "Hello, Sirius. How's Georgia?"
Georgia was Sirius' first steady girlfriend in years. After the war ended he went through a bit of a worrying stint of going to bars and picking up a new girl every night. That was until he met Georgia O'Connor at work one day in the Ministry. She was an outspoken, strong-willed woman in the Department of Magical Accidents and Catastrophes. Hermione had liked her very much immediately upon meeting her.
Sirius grinned roguishly. "Georgia's divine, thank you very much. How's Moony doing for you?"
Hermione arched a brow and inclined her head to look at Remus. "He's alright. But I'm afraid the appetite for chocolate is getting a little difficult to handle. I may have to exchange him for another werewolf professor— one that doesn't buy five kilograms of chocolate per week."
Remus rolled his eyes at her. Sirius just laughed, clapping Remus on the shoulder. "I always knew the chocolate would be the thing to do you in. My deepest condolences, Moony."
Remus swatted Sirius' hand away. "I don't eat that much chocolate. It's just a bit more than usual since we started taking the new potion."
Hermione rubbed Remus' arm. "It's more than a bit, darling, but I suppose I can forgive you."
Sirius nodded, "A wise decision, Hermione. It's hard to come by decent werewolf professors these days. You've got a catch here." Sirius winked at both of them.
Hermione sighed, leaning her head against Remus' shoulder. "I do, don't I? Sorry to make fun of your chocolate, Remus. I suppose it's a small price to pay for all the foot rubs you give me."
Remus snorted and wrapped an arm firmly around her while Sirius gave them a quick wave and stepped away to talk to Bill Weasley about something. "I certainly hope so," Remus muttered, "I do give some outstanding foot rubs, don't I?"
Hermione nodded, "yes, and if you keep talking about them I'm going to demand one when we get home."
Remus leaned down, voice lowering to a whisper, "Oh, I have a few ideas other than foot rubs that I can give you." His voice was low and raspy, sending a shiver down Hermione's spine.
"You're insatiable," she said in response, but shifted her body a tad closer to him still.
"I know," he replied, standing up straighter and looking out at the crowd around them, "it's terrible, isn't it? Now how quickly do you think we can say our goodbyes and get out of here?"
Hermione followed his gaze around the room. "Fifteen minutes. Twenty if Arthur asks me to show him my mobile phone again."
Remus sighed, "We had better get started then."
It ended up taking about twenty-five minutes to say their goodbyes. Arthur did ask Hermione about her mobile and she did show it to him. After what felt like forever Remus and Hermione could finally slip out of the Burrow to Apparate away.
Their flat was modest and simple. It was close to the Leaky for easy access to Diagon Alley but also fully entrenched in Muggle London, making Hermione feel right at home. Remus had moved into the flat seven months ago, after selling his cottage.
Immediately after being released from the Prince Estate, Hermione moved in with her parents and started spending virtually all of her time with them. Although they had initially been upset when she'd told them that she wasn't coming home after graduation, they didn't hold a grudge. Mr. and Mrs. Granger were very pleased to have their daughter back in one piece, the war over with. It took her about a month to finally draw up the courage to explain a few more details of the war (but still glossing over some violent or gruesome details): her lycanthropy, Lucius Malfoy, and Remus' role in all of it.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger had been shocked to learn what had happened. On the day Hermione told them she witnessed her father cry for the first time in her life. It was extremely unsettling. Still, her parents learned more about lycanthropy and the Wolfsbane potion and with time they accepted it. When she explained her relationship with Remus to them they were concerned, as was to be expected, but after a surprisingly painless dinner with Remus, Mrs. Granger was convinced that he was right for Hermione. Mr. Granger was a little harder to sway, but he eventually lapsed into a peaceful disposition about it.
It was only about four and a half months after the end of the war that Hermione moved out of her parents' house and in with Remus. It had been strange, at first, living with Remus. They'd basically been living together at the Estate, but this was so different. They could sleep in the same bed every night without worrying about Hermione sneaking out in the morning. It was wonderfully domestic, something Hermione and Remus both relished in every single day. They would take turns shopping for groceries and cooking meals. Since they were both very neat and organized people they hardly ever argued about cleaning or household responsibilities.
One of Hermione's favorite parts of moving in with Remus was that they had been able to combine their book collections. Across from the entrance to the flat was a large, floor-to-ceiling bookshelf, stuffed to the limit with books.
Their flat had a modest living area, a kitchenette off to the side, and then a hallway that led down to two bedrooms and one bathroom. Because Hermione and Remus were staying in the same bedroom, they had agreed to convert the other bedroom into a makeshift potions lab. After Hermione filled out a tremendous amount of paperwork and got several permits through the Ministry, they were allowed to convert it into a lab, where Hermione did the majority of her work and research on the potion.
Upon opening the door, Remus and Hermione stepped inside, only to be nearly mauled by a charging ball of ginger fur. Crookshanks bolted towards Hermione and leapt in the air, only giving the witch a split second to react and catch the half-Kneazle in her arms. "Hello, Crooks," she cooed, rubbing the fur between his ears while Remus closed and locked the door behind her.
Crookshanks was not nearly as happy with the flat as Remus and Hermione were. Something about it frightened him. Remus always said that it was the noise of the next-door neighbor's voice combined with the sound of people walking around upstairs. Hermione had placed charms on the walls in an effort to stop the noise, but Crookshanks still seemed to hear them. Thus, he was always a little bit frightened when Remus and Hermione left him alone.
Hermione settled onto the couch, Crookshanks crawling out of her arms and burrowing at her side between the couch cushions and her leg. She stretched her limbs out and leaned her head back, feeling a familiar sort of fatigue set in.
"Tired?" Remus asked, plopping down onto the couch beside her. His arms stretched out onto the back of the couch, one hand tangling in her curls as she rested her head.
"Mmm," she moaned in response. "I hardly ever notice how exhausted I get on the full moons until I finally sit down and relax."
He hummed in understanding. The two lapsed into silence, sitting on the couch with Crookshanks between them.
"The other day I saw a listing in the paper," Hermione said a few moments later. "A house right by Harry and Ginny. It got me thinking…"
"We just moved in!" Remus exclaimed, looking over at her. Although he acted surprised, he wasn't all that shocked by it. He knew Hermione wanted a little more space, especially for her potions lab.
"I know. It's just- I've been thinking about getting a bigger place. We can afford something bigger now."
Remus nodded. When he'd moved into this flat it had only been because it was all he could afford. For three months he'd scraped together as much money as he had to make ends meet. After Hermione moved in and they split the rent it became easier, and with time the earnings from the Wolfsbane potion started coming in. They weren't selling the potion to people who couldn't afford it, only to potion distributors, but it still brought in a lot of revenue. The Ministry also gave them money, funding all the ingredients and production costs, taking some of the financial stress off of that aspect of their lives.
"I was just thinking about it," Hermione added. "Perhaps it would be nice just to look at the house?" She smiled at him hopefully.
Remus looked at Hermione in the dim lighting of their flat. The sound of a passing train roared uncomfortably in the distance. With his heightened full moon senses he could hear every footstep of the couple that lived upstairs despite Hermione's charms. Perhaps getting their own house wouldn't be that bad.
But he knew what buying a house meant. It was the next natural step in their relationship, and it was certainly a big one. Buying a house meant a lot more responsibilities together. It also meant having a place with spare rooms. Spare rooms that could potentially house children down the road. The idea of children naturally brought along the idea of marriage. This was the way things worked: they buy a flat, then they upgrade to a house, then they get engaged, then married, and finally they have kids.
It was outrageously domestic, but somehow the mere thought of it brought tears to Remus' eyes. As a young child, he had always dreamt of living a normal life like this. It had been one of his wildest and simultaneously most average fantasies. But that was all it had been—a fantasy. Growing up, Remus never thought any woman would want to marry him. The idea of having children and a family had been unfathomable. The idea of living a life that wasn't completely entrenched in poverty and loneliness was incomprehensible. As a child and teenager and a young man in his twenties, these realities had hurt Remus more than any bone-breaking, skin-splitting full moon transformation.
Now, realizing that these realities weren't realities at all, Remus felt like a weight had been lifted off of his chest and he could finally breathe. He watched Hermione as she studied him, a concentrated crinkle between her brows, and felt his heart grow about five times its normal size, until it felt like it may just burst inside of his chest and kill him on the spot.
The thought of dying right now and not being able to live out the rest of his wonderfully normal life with Hermione was such a horrendous thought that Remus couldn't stand it. He wanted to live—more than he had ever wanted to live in his entire life.
Hermione's face transformed, her lips turning down into a frown as she studied him. She scooted closer on the couch, ignoring the grumbling protest of Crookshanks nestled between them. "What's wrong?" She whispered, her hand cupping his face and wiping away the wetness on his cheek. "Do you not want to look at the house? We don't have to."
He shook his head; lips pressed tightly together, and moved closer to meet her halfway on the couch. Crookshanks let out an irritated snarl and jumped onto the floor, scurrying away to settle himself somewhere else. Remus kissed Hermione firmly on the lips, then on her nose, then her forehead, and then the top of her head. When he pulled back she was watching him contently, no longer with concern and worry.
"I absolutely want to look at the house," Remus said, smiling at her. A different man may have become scared at the thought of what buying a house together meant, but to Remus, it was all he had ever wanted, and he was anything but scared. Gazing at Hermione, with her wild curls and her deep chocolate eyes, he knew that he was ready.
Author's Note: This story has always sort of been about Remus' happiness and growth. I wanted to end with him getting what he deserves—normalcy and happiness. Hermione helped him find this and his self-confidence along the way, but in the end it took a lot of his own growing as well. I hope you all liked the epilogue! I'm quite happy with it myself.
Now for the sad part: As the Moon Rises is officially over. This is the longest and most successful piece I've ever written. It's also the story that I'm most proud of and that has singlehandedly helped me grow as a writer more than anything else. I began plotting this story in August of 2014, and now here we are, exactly a year later, finished.
Thank you, every single one of you, for coming along for this journey and for supporting me in all the wealth of ways that you have. I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have so many wonderful people who read my work. Thank you for every single review, follow, favorite, recommendation, and everything else.
If you're wondering what comes next for me, that's a bit uncertain at this point. In about a week I start my freshman year at a university (eek!). With that in mind, I don't know how much time I'll be able to devote to writing. Still, I'll be around. I have a few one-shots almost complete that I'd like to post soon. I'd like to go through and edit a lot of my old fics, along with this one (mostly for grammatical/syntactical errors). Also, I'm considering writing one-shots within the universe of As the Moon Rises. For example: a short piece taking place a couple years down the road for Remus/Hermione, or a story about some other pairing or character getting on with their life. So I'm open to suggestions for that if there's anything you guys want to read!
You'll certainly see more of me in the future, but probably not something as big as this. If you want to keep up with me, feel free to put me on author alert, follow me on Tumblr (link on my profile), or just PM me on here anytime to chat. Once again, thanks so much to everyone. I've had such a wonderful experience writing and posting this story, and it's mostly because of all of you.