Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Everything was gray and empty. Her arms were so... so... empty... Where was the baby? Where was Severus? The voices hurt her like knives. “It's for the best, dear. You have to do this.” She shrank away from the voices. They sounded so calm, so kind, but they ripped a hole into her.
“It's a nightmare, Septima. Just wake up.”
Arms tightened around her, but it was cold, and wet. “No. I want Severus.”
“I'm right here, love.”
She shook her head, but there was no use, she was pulled close and then lips were pressed to hers. Her world exploded into color as she opened her eyes and saw him. “You're here. Do you have Renée?”
He pulled her tight. “Not as such, no.”
“But you can get her!”
“Septima, you're still half asleep.”
She really looked at Severus. It wasn't the angry young man she'd known as a girl but the older, sadder one. The dream faded, and she buried her head in his chest. “They took her.”
“Can you tell me about it?”
“I was in labor at your mother's house, and you were there. It hurt so much, but it was good too.”
“And then he was born, and he was so beautiful!”
“Of course he was.” Septima looked up and saw that he was smiling at her.
“After your mother cleared everything away, I was feeding him, and you got in the bed with us, and we were a family, all together.”
He looked at her kindly. “We'll do it just like that.”
Septima closed her eyes and settled into his arms. “Then it got gray and dark. I was in labor, but you weren't there. I begged for you, but they said you didn't want to come. Then she was born, and she was beautiful, too. I fed her and loved her, and it was wonderful, but then she was gone. I asked where she went and they said I didn't need her any more. I begged, but they wouldn't give her back.”
Septima started crying again, and she suddenly felt all wet. She leaned away from Severus and said, “What's happened to the sheets?”
He smiled gently. “I turned on the lights to make sure you weren't bleeding. Septima, it's your milk. It must be from dreaming about breastfeeding the babies.”
She looked down at herself and realized it was true. “Oh, no...”
Severus pulled the sheets away. “Why don't you run to the loo to do what you probably need to do, and I'll get this cleared up. Then I'd like to peek in your mind while this is still fresh.”
As it happened, nature and a moving baby were making certain demands. Several minutes later, Severus tucked her into a dry bed and sat at her side. “Don't leave me,” she said.
“Of course not. Are you ready?” At her nod, he held up his wand and whispered, “Legilimens!”
She could feel him looking at the beginning of her dream. His hand moved on her belly, and she felt the child move in response. Somehow she knew that Severus was pleased with what he saw. She felt warm and safe.
Then her mind went blank and colorless. Septima felt cold and scared. “Ah, love,” she could hear him whisper, but there was nothing for her mind to hold. For several minutes her whole world was his hand on her body, which moved to touch and caress her while there was nothing in her head.
Suddenly it was over and the darkness became first just his black eyes and then the rest of his head. Now, he backed away, and Septima watched as his wand manipulated silvery-gray strands into a glass vial.
“I'm so sorry,” he whispered, “if I had been there, it wouldn't have been like that.”
She blinked up at him. There was something she suddenly couldn't remember. “Like what?”
He stoppered his vial. “This brings us much closer to finding out what happened.” He held up the vial. “I'm sure this is part of your modified memory.”
“Does it tell us anything?” He hesitated, so she persisted. “Please tell me, Severus.”
He slid a hand along her face. “I've been sure for a long time that Renée didn't die but was taken from you. This confirms it.”
Alive? “You must be wrong.”
“Why else would someone modify your memories? Septima, you've been asking the numbers how she is for years, and you think they're somehow mocking you. Instead, they're telling you the exact truth.”
“Then where is she?”
“You've never asked the numbers that question. Why?”
It was obvious, wasn't it? They told her that there was a spot near the hospital where they buried the babies that were lost. Someone—she could never remember who—had taken her to see a marker designating an impossibly tiny spot as Renée Vector. Septima knew exactly where her daughter was. Severus seemed to think that wasn't true. “I—I can't breathe.”
He pulled her close. “Ask the numbers, Septima. Your body has told you what happened. You gave birth to her. You breastfed her. You mourned when she was taken from you. She was adopted and has been happy and well adjusted, but she doesn't know her mother. Ask the numbers where she is, Septima, and then ask them for her name.”
* * * * *
A week passed, and then two. During a free period, Septima would take out a parchment and start to write her runes. Then she would start trembling and quickly siphoned off the ink. Her breasts would start to itch, and she would put her hand over her chest, willing the prickle to stop.
In the evenings, she listened to the sound of Severus's voice and the numbers would dance in her head. She would start to scribble them on a piece of paper in front of her, but when she realized what they were, she went cold with fear. Her milk leaked again, and she would groan in frustration. The noise would cause Severus to look up. He saw her source of annoyance and smiled. Putting down his glasses and book, he would say, “Our son is likely to be well fed,” as he took the quill from her hand and lowered the lights in the lounge. Then he would take her to bed.
The first tournament task came and went. Severus fumed over Harry Potter and then went back to watching Moody and Karkaroff. Septima spent her free periods staring at a blank parchment, unable to put it away and yet unable to write the runes that would tell her exactly what she wanted to know. Severus knew, but he seemed unwilling or unable to tell her. She was beginning to think she was going mad. One afternoon, she had just about decided to uncork her ink when there was a loud hiccuping sob at the door.
“Professor Vector? I don't want to be a witch any more. Do you think you can help me go home?”
A/N: Thanks, as always, to Kyria of Delphi and Owlbait for all their help in getting this ready!