Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
They lay facing each other in her bed. Severus felt the need to say something to Septima. “How is your work going?”
“Is there a problem?”
“The terms don't dance the way they used to. It all stopped after—”
“I don't recall. They still danced those last couple of weeks that we were finishing your work I think... After that I don't know. It was just a sluggish shuffle right before Erwin started—and since then it's been gone. I blamed you for not being able to publish anything in years, but it's really me. I can summon enough magic to teach Arithmancy, but I can't take it any further.”
He chanced reaching and touching her shoulder. “I'm sorry.” They were quiet for a minute or two until he said, “How have you managed this year?”
“I would have been nothing but a glorified lab tech for the others if it weren't for your notebook. Whenever I hit a dead end, I look for what I'm working on in your notebook, and I imagine you reading it to me. I can see everything in my mind again, but it's different, as though I were dreaming it. It makes for slow going.”
“So you've made progress?”
“We've been able to replicate some of the features of the stone, but not everything. We're far ahead of the Durmstrang group, though.”
He could hear the pride in her voice. “What about the conversion potion?”
He felt her shake her head. “Nothing yet. I go over the terms, and I just can't make them work. Yet it's as though I've seen it. I get so far, and then it disappears on me.”
He caressed along her shoulder. “I know you'll get it.”
“If you keep talking to me, I'm sure I will.”
“What shall I talk about?”
“Anything. I hear your voice tonight, and marvelous things dance in my head. Tell me about Hogwarts this year.”
What he wanted to do was ask questions, but for some reason he shied away from them. He had looked into her mind when she came to request the potion, and he had learned just enough to know that he'd have to go carefully. There was a Memory Charm or potion involved, he was sure. He would have to find a way to pry into her mind enough to figure out what it was, and then he would need to reverse it. Tonight wasn't the night.
She had stopped trusting him. He realized that now. The something different about her that saddened him years ago was the loss of her trust. He had just regained the slightest bit of it back, and he wouldn't damage it by Legilimancy tonight. He would have to find another way in.
She had asked to hear about Hogwarts, so he told her. He described Quirrell's odd behavior and the trouble they had all gone to in trying to keep the stone safe. He stayed away from mentioning either of the first-years whose presence was at the forefront of his mind, but after a while he ran out of news and gossip. He felt her relax and start to breathe evenly and realized he wouldn't need to worry about that. He pulled the covers up over her shoulders and slid back onto his side of the bed. He was tired from the past few nights of watching outside her apartment and could use the rest himself.
* * * * *
He awoke with a raging desire. Septima was in his arms, and he was fondling her familiarly as his lips caressed her shoulder. She tasted better than he remembered. As he lay there, he realized her behind was pressed firmly against a sensitive spot. She was driving him mad by gently moving against him.
Suddenly she sighed and rolled to her back. She stared at him for what might have been a full minute but might have been just an instant. She seemed to make up her mind then. She smiled, reached her arms around his neck, and pulled him close. She kissed him, and he was reminded of the first night he had spent in her apartment.
“We both want this, and we both know it's just for now.”
Her knee hooked around his, and he was lost. Clothing seemed to melt away and he couldn't seem to hold her closely enough. He was with the person who was always glad to see him, and she was smiling the smile that he owned. She managed to move even closer.
It was like coming home, but without the selfish urgency of their youth. Yet he was unprepared for the intensity of it. He couldn't stop or slow down. He was aware of a need to take care of her, but he didn't think he could manage.
“Septima, I can't—”
He became aware of a keening sound from somewhere around his chest. Her head was buried there as her body shuddered. He needed nothing further; he allowed himself to lose control as a loud groan passed through his own lips.
* * * * *
The dawn light lent a glow to the satisfaction in her face. He kissed where his lips were and looked up into her eyes. “We shouldn't have done this.”
"Mmmm..." She stretched, somehow putting more skin within reach of his lips. “Perhaps not.”
“What am I to do about you?”
She gave him a genuine smile. “Stay for the day.”
He looked at her clock. “I need to be back for a meeting after lunch. I can stay the morning, though.”
She giggled like a delighted school girl. “Do you want breakfast?”
“What are you offering?”
“Why don't we go see?”
A/N: As always, I greatly appreciate the comments I've read about this story. Thank you for reading and reviewing. Thank you very much to Trickie Woo for beta reading.