Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling.
“What the fuck is the matter with you?”
Severus swore as he dropped the shrivelfig he was working with. He straightened up, ready to respond in kind until he saw the look of pure rage on Septima's face and the frightened expression on the face of their daughter.
“There's nothing the matter with me,” he drawled, “but you seem particularly angry.”
Her eyes narrowed and her lips barely moved as she said, “Do not condescend to me, Severus Snape! How could you handle the mess in your hallway the way you did today, and then to insult one of your students—a student who's considered you one of her favorite professors... until today...”
“I didn't insult anyone.”
“Did you or did you not say, and I quote, 'I see no difference'?”
He felt his own eyebrows coming together. “I didn't see a difference.”
Septima took a breath so deep that he feared she would turn purple. “You told her you think she looks ugly all the time and you don't consider it an insult?!”
“Ugly?” What was wrong with the witch? “Ugly is the last thing the girl is. She's clever, and smart, and she has a beautiful, brilliant mind. She's never ugly, and whether she has the teeth of a rodent or no teeth at all, she's a lovely girl to look at as well.”
The girl had been edging behind Septima and now looked at him in surprise. “It was a compliment?”
“Of course,” he responded, glad that someone finally understood. “No one with my nose pays much attention to that sort of thing.”
“But it was misleading.”
“I had expected you to understand.”
“Oh.” She looked from Septima's furious face to Severus's bland one and said, “I'm um—I'm late for History of Magic. May I be excused?”
Septima was still fuming and any minute would exude that spell that used to surround him with her fury. It was left to Severus to answer. “Please do, Miss Granger. You were working on a special project for Arithmancy and Potions if it's a problem.”
“I will. Thank you, Professor Snape.”
Severus counted twenty before Septima spoke again. “You can't convince me that you only see how smart she is. You must see what she looks like.”
“Of course I do!” The witch was starting to exasperate him.
Septima took a step forward. “You must see something.”
“I'm not blind. I know exactly what she looks like.”
She was close enough to poke her finger in his chest, just above the top button of his waistcoat. “Then what does she look like; what do you see, and how could you say such a thing about your favorite student?”
“I see someone who's very dear to me because when I look at her I see you!” he finally exploded.
Septima, whether she realized she had finally gone too far, or because of what he said, took a step back and fell silent. “I—”
“Since the moment she walked up to the Sorting Hat, all I've seen is you, Septima. Your walk, your eyes, your messy hair, your kissable lips... yes, she has some of my facial expressions, and when she nags her friends she looks just like my mother, but Septima, when I look at our daughter, all I want to do is find you and shag you senseless.”
This time he counted to thirty while Septima stared at him, her mouth open in shock. Then she backed away. “You're teasing me.”
“You're making some joke.”
“It's no joke.”
“Then you're lying?”
“Is that what the numbers tell you?”
“I—” She started rubbing her chest. Any second now, leaking milk would show through her robe. “I don't need to ask the numbers; I've been to her grave.”
“So have I. It contains an empty box.”
She shook her head. “The Healers of St. Mungo's wouldn't do that...”
Having seen her memories and one person visible over the shoulder of the Healer who delivered their daughter, Severus knew exactly who would do that. “It wasn't the Healers,” he agreed.
He handed her a piece of chalk. “Just ask where she is.”
Septima stared at the chalk in her hand and then at him. He nodded at the blackboard and she finally turned and started writing her runes. He stood behind her and settled his hands on her belly. The baby moved and kicked.
Septima tapped the board with her wand and turned into his arms. “I can't look.”
The answer was exactly what he expected. “It won't hurt you.” He nudged her around so she could see it.
Renée Vector is at the door of Professor Binns's classroom.
“One more question,” he murmured.
“Just put the runes on the board,” he said, nuzzling her ear.
He rubbed her shoulders as she wrote. He had worked up into her scalp by the time she said, “I can't. my hand won't go around my wand. It's as though something inside me is resisting.”
“Think about our baby girl, love. Imagine holding her in your arms.”
“It's all I think about lately, but I just can't.”
He moved so that he could hug her from behind, one arm around her shoulders and the other at her waist. Speaking softly into her ear he said, "I know the numbers are dancing in your head. They won't stop until you do this, Septima."
She took a deep breath and pointed her wand.
A/N: Thank you to all the readers who've followed this story, and thank you to Kyria of Delphi and Owlbait for all their help in alpha and beta reading.