Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
The other side of the bed was empty the next time Severus awoke. He couldn't remember the last time they had simply enjoyed being together, and he wanted to continue. “Septima, I need you here,” he called to the bathroom.
There was no answer. He got up and walked through his apartment, slowly realizing that Septima had left. He glanced at the scrolls she had worked with a few hours earlier. The one on top was one describing an unhappy Lupin and a furious Dumbledore. Had she gone to face them by herself?
He dressed and quietly walked upstairs. As he approached the door to Septima's office, he heard Dumbledore's voice echo down the hall.
“A boy, Remus, good work. I thought with everything else that went on yesterday, you missed your chance. Yet you've managed to get the witch pregnant.”
What was this? When had Lupin had the slightest chance? He peeked into the office and saw Septima. She looked from one wizard to the other, her mouth gaping. Remus chuckled with a kind smile on his face. “I'm sure it's all Septima's doing, Headmaster.”
He couldn't hold still. “Septima's... doing?” They turned toward where he stood in the doorway.
“Congratulate Remus, Severus. The witch is with child.”
“Indeed?” He looked at Lupin, who didn't look like an expectant father so much as a mischievous student.
“My scanning spell tells me she carries a boy.”
Ah... the werewolf was taking undue credit. Severus looked at Septima and bowed toward her. “I prefer the custom of congratulating the mother,” he said. “She is the one who will do all the work.”
“I agree with Severus,” said Remus. “Well done, Septima!” He slid an arm around her and kissed her cheek.
Severus likewise put an arm around her and kissed her other cheek. He whispered in her ear. “I don't know how this conversation started, but let's ride it out, shall we?” Aloud he said, “My... congratulations... to the parents of the child.”
Lupin made a show of looking thoughtful. “You know, Headmaster, I'm going to have to leave Hogwarts. I'd feel a lot better if there was someone to look after Septima and the baby.”
Dumbledore shrugged. “I'll be at all of her checkups to look out for your interests.”
“But from day to day, she should have some sort of caretaker.”
Dumbledore looked at Septima thoughtfully. “You're right, Remus; the witch does seem to get into trouble.”
Septima, who was clearly having difficulty with the deception, huffed in protest. Severus nudged her leg with his knee. He thought he knew where Lupin was going with this.
“With all the things that could come up, it might be a good idea to have Severus look after Septima and the baby.”
“You don't mind, Remus? With their history?”
“Not in the least. The child is the plan, after all. You know he will look after her properly, if only because he won't need to make Wolfsbane anymore if I'm cured.”
“He's very busy with other things.”
“Somehow, I think he'll find the time, won't you, Severus?”
Severus looked at Septima in assessment. “I suppose I could take it on. The witch would have to stay in my quarters, so that I could keep her out of trouble at night.”
Dumbledore looked from one wizard to the other. “It's against my better judgment, Remus, but it's up to you to choose how to care for this child.”
Septima huffed again, but Lupin tapped her arm. He looked with amusement from Dumbledore to Severus. “I'm sure that will work to everyone's satisfaction.”
“Well, if that's to be the case, I would like to discuss this further in my office, Professor Vector. I'll leave you two gentlemen to make whatever arrangements you feel necessary between you.”
The door was scarcely shut when Severus had his wand in Lupin's throat. “Is there any possibility that the child is yours?”
Lupin frowned as he recalled a previous night. “A month and a half ago, she was lying in my arms, pliant and ready. A small move would have made her mine, but she whispered your name.”
Severus tried not to smile. He failed, badly.
“You think it's funny? I suppose it was. Many men would have simply shagged her under the circumstances. All we needed to do was conceive a child after all; did it really matter? I couldn't do it. She was horrified at what she said and promised it would be different, but I couldn't take that chance. And you were there a few weeks ago when we were dancing. She had started initiating our little intimacies, but as soon as she saw you in that corner, it was over.”
“Is. The. Child. Yours?”
“I've never made love to her. Just now, Dumbledore came in, ready to fire her, but when he saw me here, he jumped to another conclusion. He scanned her for a child and discovered the result of what you no doubt did. He jumped to the wrong conclusion, and you saw the rest. I had no reason to enlighten him.”
“I suppose you think it's quite amusing. As if it wasn't enough to help your friends take everything away from me, now you claim my son.”
“I won't deny that it appeals to my enjoyment of a good scam, but I will not claim your child. My whole purpose was to protect Septima. When the time is right, I'm sure it will be obvious that you're the father.”
Severus sighed. Gryffindor valor had carried the day, but Lupin wasn't done and his eyes now narrowed. “I should hate you for the whispers among your snakes that resulted in my having to leave Hogwarts, but I understand that, too.” He took a breath and spoke very carefully. “A man whose daughter was nearly torn to death by a werewolf will do anything in his power to protect her if he can't control her reckless friends.”
He was startled by that. “You had no way of knowing—”
“You told me your child was lost. A baby who's lost isn't necessarily dead. I figured that your child would have been between first and fourth year. I pieced the rest together. She's the image of her mother.”
“Is it that obvious?”
“I think it would have to be pointed out. I found it because I was looking for it. You love your daughter, as is understandable, and a man who loves Septima as much as you do can be forgiven the rest.”
Severus looked away. “I'm not in love with Septima.”
Lupin shrugged. “You had me fooled, then.”
He decided to let it go. “I suppose you want me to thank you for throwing this deception over everything.”
“It serves its purpose. I know your efforts to protect Harry are increased by your efforts to protect your daughter. Just mind that you don't sacrifice him in your efforts to help her. I might suddenly remember that I never saw Septima last night.”
A/N: Thank you to Owlbait and Kyria of Delphi for beta reading.