Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Severus told himself that he couldn't possibly be interested in Septima. Her hair was messy to the point of being slovenly, she was inattentive to some types of details, and most damning of all, she would never be Lily. There was much about her that provoked his indifference, if not his dislike.
Of course, she shared many endearing qualities with Lily. Her approach to magic had the same sort of charm to it. Although a pure-blood, Septima behaved as though Magic had come to her as a delightful gift and not her birthright. She had the same wide-eyed respect for him that Lily once had, as well. It was hard not to bask in the glow of such admiration. Yet at the same time it reminded him of what he had lost during that fateful afternoon after the Defense Against the Dark Arts O.W.L.
Septima was outside of all that. She simply shared his love of learning and desire to push the limits in this one area they shared. Part of Severus thought about working with her long into the future, while another part of him wanted to move on the power and greatness that was due him. He doubted that a position in research would net him quite the prestige he wanted.
Another path was opening to him. If he worked carefully, he would be able to claim a part in another's greatness. That didn't trouble him as long as he received his fair share. There were some who warned him against working with that wizard, but they were poor weaklings. Severus would tame the snake and put it to his own use. He would be the wizard that other wizards reckoned with.
That didn't solve the problem of what to do with Septima. He had brought her to his flat and kissed her some more the other night. They had kissed pretty hard, their bodies straining for something they both wanted but weren't quite ready for. When forced to make a choice, Severus walked her to her own flat. Then he stood outside that door and kissed her some more.
That hadn't happened again, but ever since, he had been in the habit of grabbing her wrist and turning her into his kisses. He didn't really want to, at least he didn't think he wanted to, yet somehow he found himself kissing her and enjoying it. Just thinking about it now made him ache for a cigarette.
He never smoked in the laboratory. With so many things lying about, it was never safe. There were many things that might go up in flames or worse, and they would kill or maim him in the process. He was smoking out by the door of the building when she walked up. He'd never really watched her walk before. At least, he had not had the opportunity to watch her walk in the open, when she had perfect freedom of movement. She walked as if she owned the place, as if she had no care in the world, as if she was still a little girl, and yet with a feminine wiggle that was all woman. It made his mouth fall open.
When she reached him, he tossed his fag and grabbed her arm. He didn't know why he did that, but he liked it. Somehow it told them both who was the boss, which made their relationship clear. It was a good thing, since he had no idea what he felt for her. Right this minute, the most important thing was to pull her into his arms and kiss her.
“Mmm...” she said when he let her up for breath. “To what do I owe the pleasure?”
“I received an Owl this morning.”
“Our letter is going to be published.”
She clapped her hands in delight. She was so adorably happy that he wanted to kiss her again. So he pulled her closer to do so. “They really liked it? It seems so fast!” she said when he lifted his head.
“Yes, the referees said that they found our beginning quite promising.”
“Yes. They want us to publish our complete findings in their periodical when we're ready.”
“They want some edits to the text, and we can go through that this afternoon, if you're game.”
“After that, let's go to dinner again.”
“Actually, why don't we have dinner at my flat? I'll cook.”
This was a new development. “Are you sure?”
“I want to... and,” she swallowed hard and licked her lips, “I'd like you to consider spending the night.”
“Or not... I just thought...” she sighed and shrugged.
“I can't promise you anything.”
“I don't expect you to.”
“I also have other obligations.”
She turned bright red. “Forget I suggested it, then. I just... I'm not horrible to kiss, am I?”
Severus realized that he was being a bit boorish. “Quite the opposite.” The next time he stopped kissing her long enough to speak he suggested, “Why don't I come for dinner and we'll see what happens next?”
“I'd like that.”
A/N: Thank you for reading and reviewing! Thanks to Trickie Woo for beta reading!