Disclaimer: The Characters here and the world they inhaibt are the creation and property of JK Rowling.
Severus had been unable to face Septima when he finished the potion. Just making it had brought up too many memories. His hands had shook as he bottled it, and he was grateful that she hadn't been there when he took it back to his office. Instead he had quickly penned a note and gone to his rooms, where he had shed his robes and laid upon his bed.
Now that he understood Septima's anger, Severus wanted nothing more than to punish the wizard who was responsible. He stood where he could see her apartment window for two nights, waiting for her undesirable guest to arrive. Once he saw Erwin go into her building, he waited until he judged the moment was right.
He watched them through the window. Seeing the man stand so close to her while she tried to move away was all the impetus Severus needed. He put his mask on and knocked on the door before blasting it open with a spell he had learned from Dolohov. He stepped toward the room that served as dining room and lounge and took in the struggle.
He didn't expect the terror in Septima's eyes when she saw him. It was not to be avoided. He didn't want her to see what he might have to do with the predator in her sitting room. “Leave us, witch.”
She seemed eager to comply, but Erwin held his ground while he fondled Septima's shoulder. Severus couldn't remember the last time he'd been so angry. It took everything within him not to sever the man's hand at the wrist. He looked at Septima and realized she couldn't take much more, and merely sent a stinging jinx from his wand, instead. He would save the other spells for when she was not watching.
Richard Erwin fell to his knees in fear. “Don't hurt me!” he cried.
He had heard that most predators were actually cowardly children. Perhaps he would not need to do anything extreme. “Give me a reason not to kill you.”
“I've done nothing wrong.”
“Oh? Suppose you tell me in which employee code of conduct you found any sort of reason to think it was acceptable to force students to have sex with you. Septima Vector is a pure-blood witch. We don't take kindly to their abuse.”
“My relationship with Septima is none of your business, and now you've upset her.”
“I don't think I'm upsetting her, Dick. She favors another man.”
“I have a gentlemen's agreement with the other wizard.”
“You never asked the witch herself.”
“She was compensated, and if we chose to renegotiate the terms of our arrangement, it's no one else's affair.”
“You know as well as I do that you have coerced her. I will not allow it to continue.”
“Oh? Am I supposed to fear you?”
Severus's voice sounded almost caressing and playful as he said, “Don't you... Dick?” He stood tall and casually flicked his wand. An ivy plant in the corner was quickly reduced to ash.
There was a shrug. “That's just a plant. If you try to hex me, Magical Law Enforcement will come.”
“I know many spells, Dick. Not all of them are Unforgivables.” He looked into Erwin's eyes and pointed his wand. The other wizard fell to the floor, screaming.
When the spell wore off, he pulled himself back up and hissed, “You can't use Cruciatus! You'll be arrested now.”
“You're making an inaccurate assumption about the spell I used. If I am arrested, you won't be here to see it. Tell me how the thought of Septima affects you. Do you desire her? Or do you find the very thought of her causes you to feel fear and distress?”
Severus pointed his wand again. Erwin reconsidered his position and quickly gathered his wine bottle, his robes, and his hat. Severus held his wand upon him the entire time. When Erwin looked as though he wanted to travel down the hallway to the bedroom, Severus stood in the way.
When he was certain that they were alone, Severus repaired the apartment door and removed his mask. He slipped out of his robe and walked down the hallway. He tapped on the door. “Septima?”
There was a lump in the middle of her bed that looked forlorn. It didn't move. He stepped around the bed and knelt near her face. “Septima? He's gone.”
She looked at him and then closed her eyes in relief. “He'll come after me again.”
“No, he won't.”
She looked up at him uncertainly. “Do—do you want to...” She sat up and reached to unfasten the top button of her blouse.
He put his hand over hers to stop her. “You don't ever have to trade your body for anything again. I didn't do this just because I'd rather it be me in your bed than him. I didn't come to your apartment tonight because I was hoping you would reward me with your body. I did it because it's the sort of thing a man should do when he sees a lady being mistreated.”
She shook her head. “I wasn't trying to trade... I thought maybe...”
“You told me that you don't want to be a plaything. If we come together again... when we come together again, I want you to know that it's because we have a connection together, not because it's convenient for one or both of us, and not because you feel you owe me something.”
“You must care for me at least a bit.”
He shrugged. “I appreciated the chance to have a decent smoke while I watched outside your window. That Umbridge cow has passed another decree. Now I'm not allowed to smoke anywhere on the school grounds.”
She giggled, “Oh, you!”
He stood up, now sure she would be all right. “I suppose I'll be getting back, then.”
“Thank you.” She moved up to her knees and kissed him on the cheek. He kissed her back and moved around toward the door.
“Would you mind staying, just for tonight? I would feel better if someone was here.”
He sat down gingerly on the other side of the bed. “Just as a friend, Septima.”
A/N: Thank you for reading and reviewing! Thanks especially to beta reader Trickie Woo.