Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and propery of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Severus spent his days growling at the students and his nights prowling the halls. There was still no way to tell how it was that Sirius Black was able to get into Hogwarts, seemingly at whim. He intended to find out and then take his revenge upon the traitor who had caused Lily's death.
It was in the midst of one of his late night searches through the castle that he came upon them. Septima was curled up in her usual window, looking down at the grounds. From the way her shoulders shook, it appeared she might be crying, yet again. Severus suppressed a growl of annoyance as he backed into a shadow. Didn't the witch know what that did to him?
Lupin was sitting next to her and patting her knee while whispering something to her. After a moment, Septima turned and smiled at him. She reached her hand over and held his for a moment. He said something else. Then she nodded her head and leaned her face against the window again.
Severus didn't understand why his stomach would clench at the sight in front of him. He had better things to do than dance attendance on some witch. He couldn't allow himself to get tangled in her hair. He didn't have time for her soft body or her warm eyes. He stayed away from that hallway as much as he could.
His meetings with Dumbledore were the cause of actual heartburn. The Headmaster spent far too much time gloating over his matchmaking skills. “Septima and Lupin will have a beautiful child, don't you think? They both have those soft brown eyes and gentle smiles. I had an idea last fall, and Erwin is working on some equations for me. It's a bit tricky, since Septima seems to be a sore subject for him these days, but I think he'll arrive at the correct timing.”
“I'm not interested in any of that,” said Severus with a low growl.
“Of course not. Have some more brandy. What have you learned from the shopkeepers in town that might tell us about Black's habits?”
* * * * *
On the night of the full moon in May, as he returned to his room after giving Lupin his potion, Septima slipped out of a dark corner. She was holding a wine bottle. “What do you want?” he growled at her.
“I want you to find what's wrong in my mind and restore it. I think it might be keeping me from moving on.”
Perhaps it was the fact that he hadn't been in the Headmaster's office for a while, but curiosity overcame irritation. “What did you bring?”
She held up the bottle. “It's an elf-made wine. Perhaps your potion will work better with a magical base.”
“I avoided that because it could be too strong.”
“I really want to know, Severus. I need to move on, since—” She bit her lip tightly. Something within him smiled at the realization that she didn't want to cry in front of him.
He peered at her. “I won't do this if you're pregnant. I won't risk damaging a child.”
She looked away. “That's not an issue at this time.”
He couldn't account for how happy it made him. He found himself speaking softly to her, more gently than since New Years Day. “Go to your rooms then, and get out your glasses. I'll come with the potion.”
She nodded and smiled hopefully. “I'll be there.”
He watched her as she walked away. Her gait had that purposeful motion to it that he had noticed years before. It was still somewhat childlike but all woman. He willed his blood back to all the places it rightly belonged and went to his laboratory for the potion.
As promised, Septima was in her sitting room. To her credit, she hadn't changed her clothing or done anything that might be construed as alluring. She sat down in a manner that could be considered businesslike as he arranged everything on the coffee table. An instant later he was pouring the wine and showing her how much potion he would add. She nodded her head and took her glass.
“Is there something in particular that seems key to all of this? Maybe if I think of it as I drink the wine, it will help.”
“I believe it all has to do with your pregnancy with our daughter,” he answered. “Are you ready?”
In answer, she sipped the wine. “Thank you for doing this,” she said.
“I had nothing else to do this evening,” he answered.
“I appreciate it. I know it's nothing to you—”
“It's not nothing,” he said lightly.
“I know I'm nothing to you.”
“I never said that.”
“You called me a whore.”
“I didn't mean it that way. I—I wasn't in my right mind. Can you forgive me?” Suddenly he realized it was true. He hadn't been in his right mind. Had there been something in that brandy? Of course there had. Everything Dumbledore offered had a little something in it.
“Damn it,” she whispered as she shifted her gaze to the table. “I always let you do this to me.” He saw tears in her eyes and forced himself to look away.
After about half a glass, she looked up. “I'm starting to feel a little dizzy now. Should I finish the glass?”
He considered the possibilities. “Perhaps if you're a little more conscious, you can direct things a bit. Why don't we hold off until we've had a chance to see how it works?”
“You want me to think about Renée?”
He nodded. “Yes.”
“All right then, I think I'm ready.”
A/N: Thank you to Owlbait and Kyria of Delphi for beta reading!