Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Septima couldn't remember the last time she'd been so happy. Certainly never since her pregnancy. At last, she and Severus could be together and no one would try to keep them apart. As long as she didn't get pregnant again, they could spend time together whenever they had no educational tasks to consider and he was free from his other duties.
She went to his lounge and sat on the sofa in a dress he particularly liked. She smiled softly and thought of what she would say when he finally came. She loved him so much that she knew she was flushed in anticipation.
He walked listlessly into the room and sat down in his favorite chair. He put his hand over his face and groaned. Then he looked up and saw her. He stared at her in surprise and then frowned. “What are you doing here?”
“I thought we'd spend some more time together. You said that when we had time later, we could...”
“You thought wrong.”
“When I spoke with Dumbledore, I got him to say—”
“I don't care what he said to you. You need to leave.”
She looked into his eyes. She didn't see the sort of emptiness she would find if he was hiding his feelings from her. His eyes were flat.
“Has something happened? I don't understand. After last night, I thought—”
“Obviously, you thought wrong. Get out, witch.” Suddenly, Septima wondered if someone had tampered with him. Did she act this oddly at times? Was that what prompted him to say her memories had been modified?
“Severus, I love you, and you said—”
His face was now angry. “I said a lot of things when I wasn't thinking about what matters. You bewitch me, as any good prostitute could do, and I forget. Now leave.”
“I don't understand. What have I done?”
“What's there to understand? I don't want you, witch. You think all you have to do is say you love me, and you befuddle me. I won't have it anymore. Now, for the last time, witch, LEAVE!”
Septima stared for a moment at the wand he pointed directly at her. He'd never threatened her before. Maybe he didn't mean it, but she stood up. “I didn't mean... I'm so sorry...” He waved his wand menacingly, and she ran for the door.
* * * * *
“Septima, are you in there?”
She couldn't face Remus, so she just stared at the door. Her eyes were still full of tears, although she'd stopped crying long before. If she let Remus into the room, she would have to live, and for now she wished she was dead.
“Go away, Remus.”
“I know you're in there alone. Severus has been at meals, looking like a thundercloud. What happened?”
“I have no idea. Please, Remus, just go away.”
“Septima, you still owe me an explanation for this past fall.” The knocking started again.
She got up and went to her bedroom where she curled up, not caring if she was asleep or awake. Remus might still be out there, but she didn't care about that, either. None of it mattered. The tears would flow either way.
* * * * *
She blinked in the brightness of the Great Hall when she finally went to breakfast. Septima stared at her plate, unable to decide whether to eat. She didn't look at Dumbledore. She didn't want to see the twinkle in his eye when he gloated over her. Clearly the Headmaster had found a way to beat her at the game they were playing; it didn't matter how. All that mattered was that he had found a way to take Severus from her. She didn't pay much attention to the fact that someone was sitting next to her.
“He's at the other end of the table,” said Remus.
“I don't know what you're talking about.”
“Now that my eyes have been opened, I know whom you're not looking at.”
“Please, Remus, leave it alone.”
“My pleasure. Have I told you how lovely you look?”
Suddenly she couldn't help laughing. She knew her eyes were red and had dark circles under them. She hadn't eaten properly in a week and her robes hung from her in funny ways. If Remus thought she looked lovely, then he needed his eyes checked.
“Is poor eyesight part of your condition?” she asked. She looked up at him for the first time in their conversation. He was actually smiling at her.
“No, actually my eyesight is better than most people's, but I think you're always lovely, even when your sadness is something a person could practically touch.” She looked down at her plate again. He squeezed her hand, making her look up. “Let me be a friend to you, Septima.” He looked at her so kindly and in such a friendly way that it made her think almost of a dog.
“I could use a friend,” she said. She looked at his kind smile and appreciated his warm hand covering her own. Then she realized how awfully she'd been treating him. “I wasn't trying to fool or betray you, all through the fall. Dumbledore told me to stay away from Sev—him, and then he told me that I should...”
“He was trying some matchmaking, and you were eager to please him. I understand, Septima.”
“Truth be told, the whole thing has been a bit rushed for me. It's just that Dumbledore thinks we should have a child.”
“He's mentioned the same thing to me. I don't think I'm ready, Remus.”
“He's got this idea that there would be a way to cure me. I got caught up in that.”
Severus's suspicions were true then. She should have listened to him back when he was trying to protect her, when he seemed to care... She needed to stop thinking along that line. She bit her lip. “I understand.”
He tilted his head and looked at her. “I don't think you understand at all. I am held prisoner by this condition. If there was some way to cure me, it would change my life.”
“So you weren't that interested in me?”
“You're a pretty witch who's as smart as they come. Why wouldn't I be interested in you?” She suddenly felt the warm rush of his kindness and gave him a weak smile.
A/N: Thank you to Owlbait and Kyria of Delphi for beta reading!