Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Septima was sure by the second time Remus kissed her that it would never work with him. He was gallant, kind, intelligent, and an excellent wizard. The students loved him, and the other professors, except for Severus, respected him. The problem was that he would never be Severus. His fingers were quite deft at wandwork but were not at all graceful like Severus's. His friendly smile was often flashed for a variety of reasons and therefore was not the hard-won prize that Severus's was. Worthy as Remus was, he would never be the artist in Septima's dreams at night.
They stood on the Astronomy tower and watched the waxing gibbous moon. Remus shivered although the September nights were still comfortable. “I'm afraid I'm going to be sick for a few days, Septima. You probably won't see much of me for a while.”
“Is it that condition you told me about?”
“Yes. I'm—I can always feel it coming on, and it leaves me drained once it finally leaves. I fight it, but it happens anyway.”
“Does the potion help?”
“Oh, yes, and Severus is an excellent brewer, of course. He makes it better than anyone even if he doesn't like me much.”
She smiled at this. She might not be allowed to express her love for the man, but she was glad of any accolade he might earn as a wizard. “We worked together at university. Severus is an artist.”
Remus was quiet for a moment and then blurted out, “Will you miss me?”
Septima laughed. “We hardly know each other.”
“I don't think I need to know you much better. I'm really starting to fall for you, Septima.”
“Remus, I—” Whatever she was going to tell him was lost when he kissed her. As before, she was shocked at first but then allowed herself to think of Severus.
Remus finally lifted his head and chuckled. “You're so surprised, and yet you like it. You're innocent when it comes to men, aren't you? I can't wait to teach you everything there is to know of love.” Septima's eyes went wide in surprise that he could misunderstand. She opened her mouth to explain, but he seized her hand. “Let me walk you to your rooms. With the Dementors around the school, I'm not entirely sure it's safe.”
* * * * *
Severus frowned whenever he saw Septima, but she didn't get the feeling he was actually frowning at her. It was more as if she reminded him of something distasteful. She would sigh and sit at the table in the staff room, looking over her class notes and sipping tea while he stared at her. She wasn't sure if either of them got anything done.
She puzzled over his comment about Oenology. Why he could possibly care about winemaking, especially in relation to her, was a question she could not fathom. It couldn't be something he planned to do. If he couldn't leave Hogwarts to build a life with her, he certainly couldn't leave to work at a vineyard, could he? She stared at him across the staff table and wondered.
As Remus had explained beforehand, there came a day when he was unable to teach. Instead Severus took over his classes for a few days. He seemed somewhat cheerful over it, despite having to brew what he said was a rather complicated potion. In fact, one evening when Remus was not around, Septima opened her door to find Severus standing there and holding a box that clinked when he shifted his weight.
“Are you going to let me in?”
“I'm not sure it's wise.”
“I have a project here for us both.”
“A project?” Something she could work on or learn about was good, especially if it allowed her to be near him.
“Septima, you needn't act like a confused first year dunderhead and repeat whatever I say. You told me that you don't know much about Oenology. Neither do I, and I think we might benefit from learning. It will give us a way to spend a little time together and go over our research while keeping things innocent so that you can be faithful to your Gryffindor.”
“He's not my Gryffindor.”
“I'm delighted to hear that. Be that as it may, why don't we get started?”
Severus had brought a text and a bottle. Together they studied the basic principles of grape husbandry; planting, grafting, transplanting, growing, and harvesting. Then they glanced at the various strains of microbes used to ferment the grape juice.
Septima's head started to spin and Severus chuckled. “I'll leave you the book to study if you like. I spent several days going over this to figure out which bottle to start with. Shall we?” He stood and walked over to the table where the wine he had brought waited with two glasses. He held Septima's glass out to her and then showed her the part of the book where it described what sorts of scents and tastes they might find in wine.
“Mmm, I like it,” she said after she had described it to his satisfaction. “Do you mind if I have a little more?”
Severus poured her some more and asked about a letter they had written about a recently published paper. Septima surprised herself by having to think to remember it. They had discussed it only a week ago. “Oh yes, the editor said it had merit, but unless we can publish findings that specifically disprove what the Americans said, they cannot publish the—thing.”
“The letter we sent.”
“That's right, the letter we sent.” She felt just a little dizzy as she smiled at Severus. He smiled back and came to sit right next to her.
* * * * *
Septima awoke the next morning in her bed although she wasn't sure how she got there. She'd had some interesting dreams all night. In one of them Remus kissed her at the door of her London apartment. When she went inside, the young Severus made love to the young Septima all night, just as he had done once during their university days.
A/N: Thank you to Owlbait for beta reading. As always, thank you in advance for reviewing!