Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Severus forced himself to get out of Septima's bed. Part of him wanted to stay with her and forget about everything else, but some vestige of that brandy potion reminded him that he had duties. She reached for him, and he gently set her hands away. “You know this doesn't change anything.”
She opened her mouth to say something, but then nodded. “I didn't actually expect this. I truly just wanted to work on the memory modification.” She looked at him entreatingly. “Please believe that.”
“I do believe it.” He sat on the bed and couldn't resist running his fingers through her hair.
“Did you find what we need?”
He shook his head. “We still don't know how your memories were modified.” And you still don't know about our daughter, he thought. “When Lupin is ill in June, perhaps we can try again.”
She looked out her window. “I may be pregnant by then. Dumbledore has someone working through equations for him to see when the best moment is. I'll have to swallow whatever it is that resists it and go through with it then. He says that if I have a child that's exposed to Remus's illness but healthy, he might be able to cure Remus.”
Severus thought through the premise. It sounded a little like the vaccination technique that Muggles used. Dumbledore must be planning to use the umbilical cord. Yet if the child was a werewolf, she could be torn apart by it. “Are you willing to do that, Septima? Do you want to tie yourself to him for your life? Are you willing to risk your own health?”
She shrugged. “Why not? I've come to realize that Remus isn't interested in me for any long term purpose. Dumbledore tried to match us up, but mostly he wants this child for as long as it takes to cure Remus. I think Remus is interested in someone else but fears trying to make a life with her as he is. He and I are are going to have our fling, then I'll have the baby, they'll get what they need, we'll part ways, and then I'll finally have someone to share my life with. I won't lose this baby. Dumbledore will take care of everything”
“Septima...” He felt overwhelming guilt and sadness. She was being treated as if she was disposable, and she was letting them do it. Had he, through his own selfishness and foolishness, taught her that?
She lifted her hand to the side of his face. “I've told you before that I love you. I'll always love you and nothing will change that. I know I can't hold you to me, so I'll let you go. This way I can have a small someone for me.”
“How can I leave you like this?” he asked. “I feel as though I owe you something.”
She turned away. “Dumbledore was right. He said you would feel obligated. Please don't. Circe knows you've done little enough to make me love you; it's not your responsibility to deal with it.”
That stung, even if it was true. “All right then. This was a beautiful moment, Septima. I'm sorry it has to end.”
She didn't answer him. She just nodded her head as she curled up on her bed. He gathered his clothes and potion vial and prepared to leave. Just as he walked into the hallway and shut the door behind himself he realized why she had been unable to say goodbye. He pressed his hand and ear to the door. He couldn't hear her, but he was sure he'd left her in tears.
* * * * *
He couldn't resist. That night he walked close enough to her window to see that she was there. Lupin was there, too, holding her and cradling her head against his chest. It was a tender scene, except that Septima's eyes were red and teary. Lupin was comforting her, then. Severus wondered if Lupin knew why she was upset.
He asked himself again how he could leave her to this terrible choice. The Muggles would call her a surrogate, but she was nothing to Dumbledore and Lupin but a vessel for a potions ingredient. Severus could only hope that the witch who was spared was worthy of Septima's sacrifice.
A few nights later, he happened to walk down that hallway and saw them again. A wireless was sitting on the window seat, but Septima and Lupin were in the middle of the hall. He was showing her the steps to some dance, and she was doing horribly. They were both laughing.
As Severus watched, Septima tripped, and Lupin pulled her into his arms to keep her from falling. Time stopped as they clung together and she regained her equilibrium. Lupin didn't let her go. He freed a hand and used it to tip her chin up.
It was all wrong. The look in Septima's eyes as she shut them in anticipation of the kiss was wrong. The arch in her back as she pressed up into the other man's body was wrong. The soft sigh that escaped her as that man clenched a fistful of her skirt was wrong. Septima kissing anyone but him was .wrong. A low growl escaped Severus's throat, and she opened her eyes and saw him.
As he stepped back into the shadow, he saw the look she almost always had for him, followed by dismay. It had been wrong for him to watch, very, very wrong. Yet he couldn't suppress his elation. When he had come upon Septima and Lupin, they had been headed for the bedroom. That single glance between Septima and himself ruined it.
* * * * *
“Erwin has finally come through,” gloated Dumbledore. “We now know the exact hour when Remus and Septima should conceive their child.”
“Oh?” Severus feigned boredom. He pretended to nurse his glass while using a silent spell to make the brandy disappear. After three weeks of this practice, his head was much clearer. He thought of at least a dozen potions Dumbledore might have used to dose him. No doubt Dumbledore and Flammel came up with some others while they were working together. It might be anything.
Dumbledore looked carefully at him and waved a hand. “Never mind. You don't care about that.”
Severus traced the rim of the glass. “Did you want me to make the potion for Lupin?”
There was quite a bit of peering over the half moon glasses. “I think not. There's a potion Nick and I worked on that will be suitable. Oh, and by the way, we shouldn't need the June Wolfsbane, either”
It was Severus's turn to wave a hand and then yawn. “Well then, I think I shall go. I was planning to look around Hogsmeade later.”
* * * * *
A week later, he was stirring the June Wolfsbane potion. Dumbledore's plans or not, Severus was determined to have the potion on hand as long as there was a werewolf in the castle. He was just about finished when he became aware of her in his laboratory. “Septima?”
“I need your help.” She sounded strangely flat.
A/N: This has been beta read by Owlbait and Kyria of Delphi. Thank you to both of them, and also to all the readers and reviewers!