Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creatio and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Being examined by Severus's mother wasn't as embarrassing as Septima expected it to be. It was certainly much nicer to have Severus's hand in hers when the poking got uncomfortable than to have Dumbledore chatting across the room. Eileen's hands were gentler, too, and her eyes softened as she pressed against the bulge just visible now in Septima's belly. Poppy hadn't been unkind or harsh, certainly; perhaps it was Eileen's attachment to the child that made the difference.
“He's up out of your pelvis, now. I wonder...” Eileen pointed at a drawer in a corner, which opened. A bell-shaped object came toward her. Septima saw that it had a flat disk on its top. Eileen breathed on the disk and placed it on Septima's belly. She leaned down with her ear to the bell side and slid the object around for a bit.
“There he is. Sonorous!” A rapid thumpetty thump noise came from the object. “He's got a good strong heartbeat.”
Severus slid his free hand along Septima's tummy, stopping next to where his mother's hand still held the stethoscope. “So fast.”
“It's about right for this stage of his life. It will slow down once he's born.”
Eileen smiled and patted Septima on the knee before standing and waving her son out of the room with her.
“We'll just let you change back into your dress.”
Some sort of conversation started in the hallway. Septima strained to hear what was said.
There was accusation in her voice. “...you do realize this is not her first...”
“...no, there was one...” Septima couldn't quite make out the murmuring.
“Severus Snape! Do you mean to tell me—”
“It's not like that, mother...” The murmurs continued and Septima couldn't hear any more.
Septima put on the white sundress she had worn that day, wondering if it had been a horrible idea. It sounded like Eileen had found evidence of Reneé and didn't want that sort of woman in her son's life. A horrible, queasy feeling formed in her stomach. There was no help for it; it was the only dress she had with her. Severus liked the way the dress looked on her, she reminded herself as she looked at her hair. That was still as perfect as it had been that morning at Hogwarts. Charity and about a gallon of Sleekeasy's Potion had seen to that.
There was a knock at the door. Septima sucked in her apprehension and her breakfast and said, “Yes?”
Eileen came in and smiled kindly. She cupped Septima's face in her hands and said, “You poor dear, don't worry about a thing. You're perfectly healthy and you won't lose this one.”
Septima looked over her shoulder at Severus. His face had a soft smile on it, and her heart grew easier.
* * * * *
“Which apartment are we going to?” she asked.
“Yours. I fancy making love to you in the very first place we ever did, and where we very likely conceived Reneé.”
Septima winced at the reminder. “Your mother must have thought...”
“She realized that you'd been pregnant before and asked me if I knew about it. Of course she was angry with me for not telling her back then. She seems to think that she could have cared for you better than the staff of St. Mungo's.” He smiled as he took her arm and Apparated.
When they reached the apartment, Septima felt a bit dizzy. “I guess I don't Apparate as well when I'm pregnant,” she observed as she clutched his arm ungracefully.
He picked her up in his arms and carried her in. He carried her to the bedroom and whispered into her hair. “I was going to spend the evening discussing interesting things with you, cooking a meal, perhaps dancing. Septima, I can't wait. Are you well enough?”
She nodded. “Suddenly I feel perfectly fine. Don't wait. Please make love to me.”
He was so gentle as he undressed her, and so patient as she undressed him. Septima marveled at how natural he seemed in her bedroom, waiting for her to step out of her panties. He belonged in her life and behaved as though he had every intention of staying there.
He started at her belly, kissing the spot where his mother had found the baby's heartbeat. “I love that our baby is inside you,” he said, “but I love the rest of your body, too.”
Septima could only squeak in surprise as he started to caress and nibble, remarking upon every change that pregnancy had brought to her. He squeezed and fondled as she started to whimper. He batted her hands away as she tried to touch him and kissed her when she started to say it wasn't fair.
And then it was happening. They were together as never before. Septima didn't know if she was breathing or what she was saying. She simply existed and there was nothing else that existed but Severus. As he lost control of himself he breathed out her name and then a word that was sweeter than any she'd heard from his mouth before.
* * * * *
The summer continued with a bliss Septima had never hoped to know. Severus was considerate and almost loving. She allowed herself to enjoy it, yet a part of her still worried that something would happen to separate her from Severus forever.
One thing was becoming clearer as the summer progressed. Some nights, Severus slept fitfully, and she knew his left arm hurt him. She suspected that she knew what was on his arm, but she didn't know for sure. It was a mottled pattern of a rash that looked like hives until one night late in July.
Severu was thrashing around and moaning, “Please, Master...” It worried her to think of him so frightened of anything. She lit a candle and gently uncovered his arm. For the first time, she clearly saw what she always knew must be there but hoped never to see.
Fetching a scroll and quill, Septima perched on the side of the bed and drew the design on his arm. Just copying it made something within her recoil. She took a deep breath and wrote other runes describing the situation. Then she Summoned her wand and tapped the parchment.
She immediately wished she hadn't.
A/N: Thank you to Owlbait and Kyria of Delphi for beta review!