Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
What would he have done if she had said yes?
He didn't know. He spent months watching her and wondering what he would have done. His sense of relief was so intermixed with a sense of disappointment that he couldn't quantify his reaction. Dumbledore would have disapproved for several reasons. It would have complicated a great many things. Yet there was a part of him that wondered if it could somehow have got past the anger Septima always had toward him. He stayed as much in his own rooms as possible while he sorted—no, he would never use that word again—figured it out.
He pictured a little girl. He would call her Lily. It would be a way to recapture the childhood dream he had lost. She would be smart—the smartest student at Hogwarts, and cute, like her mother. He stopped short in a hallway. Septima was seated in a window, arms wrapped around herself and looking out at the moon. The child would indeed be cute, but the mother she looked like would be Septima.
He stopped thinking of the child after a while, since there was no child to think about. Instead, he watched Septima from time to time. She was not the witch he had known at all. As months became years, he realized that she had changed completely. Part of him mourned the loss of the girl she had been. Another part of him scratched at the phantom sting on his left arm and said that he wasn't the same man, either.
He could feel her watching him during meals or Quidditch matches. He could feel her desire emanating toward him as though she were casting a spell. She still loved him, he thought. She was reaching for him, sending him a sign that she wanted to be with him again. They could work together... and they would have the rest together, too. For some reason, perhaps because Lily was gone, he found that the future with Septima that had once seemed awful was now quite attractive.
He would look up to meet her eyes. He would find the sign in them, and then he would send one of his own. When he managed to lock eyes with her, however, all he could find was livid anger. If he looked for more than a count of five, he would start to feel rage radiating at him from her. It was definitely different from the sensation he received only seconds before, and it confused him that she should be filled with both desire and anger toward him.
She usually treated him indifferently. Minerva was actually warmer toward him, a circumstance he deplored. Septima spoke to him when strictly necessary but otherwise looked right past him or through him. The only time she had any animation in her demeanor toward him was when he came upon her late at night. She looked out the windows and had the appearance of being tightly wound.
He chanced contact one time, shortly after the start of a new school year. “Septima...”
“She would be turning three, right about now,” she whispered. “I just saw children around that age in Hogsmeade. She would be smarter than they are, I'm sure. If we had her, I could have avoided—” Suddenly she actually saw and recognized Severus. “Why do you spy on me?” Her voice took on a sharp edge.
“I was just on my way to get a cigarette.”
“You had to come down this hallway?”
“I like to keep my eye out for stray students. It's after curfew.”
“There are no students here. Just go.”
“Septima, is there something—”
“Is there something what, Severus? Is there some way you can hurt me yet again? I dare say you're a smart wizard and can figure one out.” She slid past him and moved down the hallway. “If you don't mind, I'd like some privacy.”
He was left watching her, wondering if the loss of their child could inspire so much rage. He supposed it could, but he wondered if there was something besides. He supposed he would have to wait until she felt like explaining it to him. As he got closer to the door, he mentally shrugged. Bah, women found ways to complicate matters without even trying. Look at how the Umbridge witch had ruined his life without even meeting him.
* * * * *
Septima shouldn't be amused at the misfortune of others, but the educational decree that required all smoking to be done outside of the building was one of her few bright spots. She came upon Severus or saw him from a window, huddled in some corner or dry spot beneath an underhang, smoking for all he was worth. Whoever Dolores Umbridge was, she sure yanked his chains. Septima giggled, but then sighed.
She didn't want Severus to be miserable. She did want him to acknowledge what he had done. He had betrayed her and essentially given her to another man. She wanted some sort of apology for that. If he would only say something on the subject, admit that it was wrong to meddle in her life like that, perhaps...
If there was some way to explain it all, she would find some way to go to him again. She had attracted him once; she was sure she could do it again. Perhaps there was something they could work on together professionally, and perhaps it could lead to something else. She was certain that he was not pursuing anyone else. In fact, there were times she thought that perhaps he would be interested in her. He seemed almost interested in her.
She watched him eat his dinner, chatting with other professors, and fell in love with him all over again. He had such intensity. She watched his hands move and remembered discussing their work in the past. Beautiful things would start to dance in her mind. She watched him at Quidditch matches, too. He would get so serious, watching his Slytherins fly. She could feel her love for him bubble through her like a charm and move across the space like a spell. She could see it surround him and how he would bask in it for a second or two before looking for her.
He would look up with a half smile on his face. Suddenly she would have a very different reaction to him. He had come to expect her love and that made her more angry than anything else. He knew how she felt. He had taken what he wanted from her until he had the life he really wanted within his grasp. Then he had turned around and tossed her to another man without even asking her opinion. Finally, in his deepest grief, he turned around yet again and came to her, taking what she would have willingly given, knowing she would do anything for him. After that he had forgotten her again, leaving her to wonder what she could possibly have done to deserve such treatment.
Yes, when she glimpsed that half smirk, a blind rage as hot as Fiendfyre built within her and focused in such a way that it surrounded him. With her anger outside of her, she could coldly focus it so that it never actually touched him, but she saw that he recognized it and accepted its existence.
Maybe if he could just make a sign, they could come together again. Then again, perhaps it wouldn't matter. It wouldn't change the fact that she had given in to Erwin and become the sort of woman she looked down upon. If Severus had only seen her in that light to begin with, perhaps that's all she was. Maybe he thought she slept with him for the same reason, and that was why he so easily agreed to Erwin's request.
She thought to herself that if only she could have Renée, none of it would have happened. She would have had a reason to say no to Erwin and she could have remained true to Severus, no matter what he thought of her. She would sigh and imagine a time when she could get rid of this horrible anger and grief, but she couldn't imagine getting rid of it, either. It was all that kept her company.
She spent the months and years haunting the hallways of Hogwarts, getting into sparring matches with Peeves as necessary and avoiding Severus as much as possible. He learned to avoid her when he saw her looking out the windows. She hugged herself tighter and told herself that she preferred it that way.
A/N: Thank you to Trickie Woo for beta reading!