Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Septima ached. Every part of her body was sore. The Healers said that everything she went through, compounded by the depression, could do that to a person. After the incident in May, she had gone back to work. She had finished a few last equations for Severus's research and for the joint papers they would have published. Then she had tried to assess the angle to take on her own work. It had proven to be one thing too many.
Now she was back in the hospital, but on a different floor. She had done everything she could, but she couldn't quite shake it. Finally a potion was suggested. Lethe's Milk was fairly aggressive, but it would allow her peace from some of the more upsetting portions of the last year.
There was a long discussion regarding whether she should forget Severus altogether. The decision was made not to do that. Although the counselors never learned her partner's name, they pointed out that the affair was so entwined with her work that it would set her back in her professional goals. Likewise, the child she had lost would not be forgotten, but some of the more distressing moments would be softened. After a long stay at St. Mungo's, working with the Healers on what would be forgotten and what remembered, she was given her dose of the potion.
Septima went to sleep and woke late the next morning, feeling refreshed. The Matron brought her breakfast and her discharge papers. “How are you feeling, deary?”
“Quite well. Am I going home today?”
“Yes, the Healers are sure that you will be fine now. You've been ill for almost six months. Won't you be glad to get back to your work?”
She thought of her research. Severus would be writing his thesis by now, but she still had a few months worth of research to do. She was a year behind him to begin with, but their work together gave her a basis for her own. “Yes, I'll be very happy to get back,” she said.
Severus hated everything about his life right then. He'd failed Septima, he'd failed Lily, and he'd failed himself. He emptied a box of books and discovered the ultrasound picture of little Renée. If he had stayed away from the Death Eaters, Septima's baby might have lived. He came upon a notebook from long ago. It was filled with pictures of Lily, who was in danger now because of a stray prophecy he had heard and repeated. He had already hung his accreditations on the wall, surrounding himself with the future he would never truly realize because he would have to spend it here, working for Dumbledore.
“Hello?” He looked up to see Professor Erwin at the door.
“Yes?” he asked suspiciously. Erwin was leaving for the university. There was no reason for him to stop by unless he wanted something, and Erwin always seemed to want a bit more than people wanted to give.
“I have heard things about Septima Vector. I understand you and she were together often.”
“That's one way to put it.”
“I've thought of taking her on. I thought I would ask your opinion on the matter before I approached her, as a sort of courtesy between gentlemen and all.”
Severus was looking in a box full of scrolls she had written and didn't want his face to be visible to the other man. As a result, he missed the look in Erwin's eyes. From the sound of it, the man was planning to poach Septima as a student from Oiler, who was known to be almost entirely blind by now. He was sharp as a tack and usually knew where the terms would end long before the numbers settled, but perhaps Septima should have a new advisor. At any rate, Severus would help her as much as he could.
“I can't recommend her highly enough.”
“Oho, it's like that is it? Why didn't you bring her with you?”
“Surely you realize that she still has this last year to finish. She's brilliant, though. I understand that even with her leave of absence she's going to finish her thesis on time.”
“I remember her from her Hogwarts days. Is there anything you could tell me about her?”
Severus shrugged and pretended he was sorting through the scrolls. “She's conscientious, but she occasionally gets absent-minded. I found her to be eager to learn and extremely inventive. She has her awkward moments, yet she manages to behave in a manner that's quite pleasing.”
The other wizard's hands clapped together in a way Severus found odd, but he let it pass. “Again, I can't recommend her highly enough. I suppose someone new might even draw out hidden talents I never found. She's quite capable and the best partner I ever had. She's had a raw deal this last year, and she deserves better.”
Erwin chuckled. “Thank you, Severus. I assure you, you're placing her into very careful hands.”
A/N: As always, thank you for reading and recviewing! A special thank you goes to Trickie Woo for beta reading.