Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
She wandered down to the dungeon with an odd feeling in her head. It was almost as if she was floating above herself and watching the whole thing. She didn't know how she dared to go to him, but she didn't know how she could do what was asked of her if she didn't. She stood in the doorway and watched as he brewed his potion. As always, he was an artist. He had such grace and skill.
What she could feel of her heart flipped over as it always did. After today, he would be gone from her forever. She understood that much of whatever animosity was between him and Remus. Yet if she didn't go through with this there would be nothing for her. Dumbledore had made that clear as he poured her tea at breakfast and again at lunch.
He looked at her, and she heard her voice say that she needed his help. She watched him set the burner on low and close the notebook he used. “What do you need?”
“I need you to cut my hair.” She offered him the shears in her hand.
He frowned. “I'm no barber, witch.”
She blinked several times. “I don't think I can go through with it if Remus touches my hair. I promised myself I would never cut it again... that it would only be cut if you did it.”
“Go through with what?”
She mumbled, “Remus... baby...”
“You're a bit off, aren't you?” He stepped close to her and touched her forehead. “What have they done to you? They gave you some potion, didn't they?”
She tried to shrug. “The Headmaster said it would calm me and reduce my inhibitions...”
Realization was dawning on his face. “You're expected to have sex with him today? Have you—?”
She blinked a few more times. “Not yet. They said his sickness would be at maximum potency in a couple of hours, and the chance for the strongest defense would therefore result...”
Severus turned green. He looked at his cauldron and nodded. Then he took her hand and said, “Come to my rooms then. You need a good brush out first; your hair's as messy as our—” He stopped talking.
She was a bit fuzzy, but she had followed the conversation up until that point. “Messy as what?”
He shook his head. “As messy as I've ever seen it, I mean.”
“All right, but please hurry. I came as soon as I was free today, but I need to go to Remus's office as soon as we're done here. Dumbledore says I can't be late.”
He sat her down on his couch and stood behind her, running the brush through her hair. “So you're to... perform... and then go back to your rooms?”
She shook her head. “Dumbledore told me to be prepared to spend the night. He said something about the proof that it worked in the morning.”
Severus stopped brushing for a moment. “You can't do this, Septima.”
She turned her head. “I have to. After breakfast they came to my lounge and told me.”
“Told you what?”
“The calculations are for tonight, after dinner but before full dark.”
“That's why Dumbledore said he wouldn't need the potion tonight.” He whispered it as if to himself. Then louder he said, “You can't do it, Septima. As much as I hate the idea of you having his child, you simply must not spend the night.”
“What are you talking about? What harm could come to me from staying the night with a man who's sick?” She was feeling dizzy but also panicky despite the calming potion. Something was trying to make itself understood in her mind.
Severus knelt before her. “I love that you want to help, and I love that you came to me when you needed help, but Septima, please think about this.”
“Are you trying to tell me something about Remus's condition?”
“Use that brilliant mind and think a moment. Why would they want you right before dark, right before the moon rises... the full moon? Septima, if he doesn't recognize you as his mate when he's... sick... he will tear you apart. When the moon sets you'll either be pregnant or dead.”
From the back of her mind came the smell of aconite in his dungeon. She looked at Severus, and he nodded. “The potion you've been making... is Wolfsbane?” She sat further into the cushions and closed her eyes. She needed to be brave. Tomorrow, none of this would matter any more. She took several deep breaths until she felt almost asleep. Then she heard her voice say, “If you could cut it straight across, just about the height of my chin... I'll be able to fool myself into thinking it's still long, but he won't be able to touch it like you always do...”
“Septima, you can't. If he fancies another witch, he will know you're not his mate.”
“I'll be the mother of his child. Besides, Remus would never hurt me.”
“Never on purpose, Septima, I agree, but he won't be taking the Wolfsbane. The illness will be stronger without it, giving a greater chance for the cure Dumbledore hypothesizes. He won't be in his right mind.”
“There's nothing else for me to do, Severus. I've waited so many years for a happy ending with you. You've made it clear that it's not coming. Will it really matter whether I'm dead or alive? Please, just cut my hair. I need to go to him soon.”
A/N: Thank you, as always, to Owlbait and Kyria of Delphi for looking this over for me.