~ July, 2004 ~
Harry came down the stairs to the lab to check on Severus. He had learned early on that Severus did not like being interrupted when working (often times because he was counting stirs or at a stage in the brewing process that required exacting intervals of time) so Harry stood in the doorway until Severus found a stopping point and invited him in. Harry didn't mind – he liked watching Severus work. And sometimes, like now, Harry would marvel at how far they'd come. It seemed like a lifetime ago when they were teacher-student at Hogwarts.
Harry remembered thinking that as a professor, Severus hated his job. But what he'd hated was having to dumb down the potential of his work in order to teach uninterested or unqualified children. Once he was free of that constraint, he had truly hit his stride. No more putting aside work that inspired and engaged him because of lesson plans and detentions. No more lost time due to spying and playing both sides of the battle lines. Now that he was free to explore the whims of his craft, he had begun pioneering new areas of Potionry, seeing how far he could push things – really delving into what made his craft tick.
Essentially, Severus had got the 'career reboot' he was hoping for, and Harry couldn't be happier or more proud. He always knew Severus was brilliant, but to watch what happened when the man was unleashed turned out to be nothing short of amazing.
Shortly after they'd moved into their home, Severus had taken advantage of his new lab and pulled together his research on Evochi. Publishing it had made him the de facto expert. He'd used Harry as his case study (anonymously, of course), along with his own experiences of using the potion to cope with grief, to spotlight its use for treating mental and emotional trauma. When his findings were favorably received, he began brewing controlled batches and licensing it to select practitioners.
That led to writing articles for several of the preeminent potions and chemistry journals, which then connected him to top medical facilities and researchers the world over. In no time at all, he was being lauded for his groundbreaking, visionary work, and began contracting with those same clinics and laboratories to help improve some of the most important potions of their time – Wolfsbane, to name one. Gravidas (the fertility potion used in male pregnancy), for another.
"You may enter." Severus' voice floated into Harry's consciousness and it broke his reverie.
Harry walked over and slipped his arms around Severus' waist, pressing his cheek to his husband's back. Thoughts of Severus' work were still floating around in his mind. "Are you going to cure Lycanthropy now that you've perfected Wolfsbane?"
"I have not perfected it; improved would be a more accurate assessment."
Harry snorted. "I'd say it's a lot more than 'improved' if any of the buzz I've heard is correct."
"Precisely – buzz. White noise. It is merely journalistic sensationalism."
Harry smiled – he knew Severus was just being humble. He'd seen the accolades Severus had received for services rendered on the Wolfsbane potion. Severus' refinement had improved the potion's efficacy by nearly forty-five percent, leaving those who depended on it nearly free of side effects. The breakthrough had earned Severus the title of a Potions laureate with a medal to match, though he accepted it in absentia despite the event thrown in his honor. Severus was a private man, one who (like Harry himself) was not content in the limelight. He didn't do his work for the benefit of the press, or to collect tokens and trophies for his shelves. It was simply a matter of pride, of personal and professional edification, of overcoming scientific problems with clever, thoughtful and effective solutions. It was what Severus was best at, so it was no surprise he'd found more than enough satisfaction in it to remain both challenged and content.
"Perfecting it would probably only take you ten years," Harry offered.
"Ten years? I am insulted. If it takes more than five, I should switch careers immediately."
Harry laughed, squeezing his arms tighter around Severus. "Well, I suppose we have the next ten years to find out, then, either way." He smiled even though Severus couldn't see it. Then his body began getting other ideas from being pressed against Severus' back, and Harry remembered the reason he'd come down to the lab.
"By the way, can we… do something? I'm horny as hell and the kids are finally asleep," Harry said, punctuating his request with a wiggle and press of his hips. A small noise escaped from the back of Severus' throat, but he cleared it discreetly in an attempt to cover it. Harry grinned. It delighted him to know there were still things he could do to cause that carefully-constructed composure to crack, if only for a moment. But he supposed a cock in the arse was as good a reason as any.
"I am working, Mr. Potter."
"I love it when you call me 'Mr. Potter.'"
Severus sighed, but it was laced with fondness. "I do not have time for one of your classroom fantasies." He detached Harry's arms from around his middle and turned to look at him properly, his gaze making a quick sweep of Harry's body – in particular, the slightly-tented front to Harry's denims. He seemed to reconsider. "But I suppose I may be able to spare ten minutes to assist you with your… problem."
Harry grinned. "It is almost my birthday, you know."
"Angling for an early present, I see. How typical," Severus said, but then silenced further rejoinders with a kiss, yanking Harry bodily closer. "What do you want?" Severus asked, his voice low and dangerous, his mouth moving to the column of Harry's neck, nipping just below his ear. Harry had always found it hard to think when he was presented with That Voice and Those Lips.
"I don't care, anything. You. I just want…" Harry gasped when Severus' hand squeezed around his erection. "You."