Hermione Granger is Renée Vector.
It seemed that Septima couldn't get that chalkboard out of her eyes. It had been erased, quickly but thoroughly, and Severus had pulled her into their lounge where there had been whispered accusations, followed by whispered counter-accusations, followed by yelling, more yelling in response, and tears. She knew he hated it when she cried, but she couldn't help herself.
He turned away, and Septima went cold with a fear that he was gone from her forever. “I'm—I just can't seem—I'm sorry...” She ran to the bedroom, the bedroom she was supposed to use, and started to flop on the bed until the baby got in her way and she wound up twisting ungracefully onto her back. Pillows flew from the bed and the covers got horribly mussed. After a minute, she could remember the spell to Summon a pillow. She covered her face and allowed herself to cry.
She felt him lean against the door. “You can't do that.” His voice had that bossy tone he used when he was explaining something he thought she should already know. “You'll smother yourself.”
He pulled the pillow away and then reached for her shoulder. “You can't lie on your back, either.” He tugged until she rolled onto her side. “It could smother the baby.”
It forced her to look into his face, and for a few minutes they just stared at each other.
“I didn't mean to ruin everything,” she said. “I don't know why I lied to you, but I do remember wishing I could just get some space to work everything out.”
“You cried for me the whole time you were in labor.”
“I don't remember.”
“No, the memory was hidden from your consciousness, so when I was able to find it that night I put it in a vial, and I've watched the whole thing. You asked them to find me during your labor and every day of the next two weeks while they kept you in the hospital and told you to sign the papers. They told you I didn't want you.”
“Maybe it was just a dream after all. Maybe my unconscious made it up because I knew you didn't want me.”
He winced. “Will you wait here a moment? I'll be right back.”
She leaned back, into the pillows since she knew she shouldn't be flat on her back, and wondered if he really wanted her now. She closed her eyes and saw the chalkboard again. Hermione Granger is Renée Vector. Just the thought of it made her heart pound and her mind spin. A new tear rolled down her face.
She heard the outside door of their apartment shut, and she wiped at her face as he walked in. “I have proof. I was waiting for you to understand it on your own before I showed you. He spread a notebook and a bundle of scrolls on the bed as she looked. “I've had most of this since her first year.”
She picked up one document with gilt edges. “This isn't a copy.”
“No, it was supposed to be your original of her birth certificate—our original. I decided the office where it was filed didn't need it.”
Septima trembled as she traced over her own name on the parchment next to “Mother.” The space next to “Father” was marked “unknown.” She looked up at Severus in question.
He shrugged. “I don't know for sure why it doesn't list me. I can only guess until we uncover more of your memories.”
“I don't remember any of this, yet here is my thumbprint, right next to her footprint. If it had listed you, wouldn't they have had to get permission from you for the adoption?”
“Yes, and I never would have.”
“But you say I begged for you constantly. How could they not know it was you?”
“Someone had reasons to keep us apart. They deliberately didn't put my name on the form, and if they had ever told me what you were doing, I would have dropped everything to come.”
She snorted. “It's easy to say that now.”
“Septima, look at me.” She looked up and saw how serious he was. “The day I thought she was dead was one of the worst days of my life. I was handed everything I ever thought I wanted, and I threw it away when I suddenly realized my child was gone. If I had known that you tricked me, I would have found you and the child, and we would have formed that family we discussed.”
Septima traced it one last time before setting the parchment down. “I cannot imagine the anger that would have gone into such a decision on my part. Maybe you're right to say I wrote her off like a vicious bint.”
“I didn't really think that, Septima, even in the first hours after I realized you had lied to me. I knew there must have been some good reason.”
She sifted through the other documents, which were notarized copies. There was her signature on the form relinquishing all rights as mother to Renée Vector, and a revised birth certificate for Hermione Granger. The notebook came last, and Septima realized it was a sketch book similar to the one he kept when they were students.
“What's this?” she asked, her heart beating faster. Was he finally going to show her the witch he had constantly sketched back then?
The first picture was of a little girl walking toward Minerva McGonagall. She had a look of perfect assurance on her face and the messiest hair Septima had ever seen.
“I knew she was ours the instant I saw her. I started this book that evening,” he said quietly.
“Why didn't you tell me?”
“How many times did I ask you about it?”
She turned away. He had asked, and used Legilimancy. He had done both several times over the past few years.
“I tried to find a way to get around to the subject, but you always got so upset and nervous. The times when you seemed to completely blank out worried me. I didn't feel I could show you any of this until I found a way to break the ice. It appears that your current pregnancy is somehow churning up memories of our daughter.”
She sighed. “You say you have my memories, now?”
“Not all of them. I don't know how they finally got our daughter away from you nor how they modified your memory.”
She paged through the notebook. “These pictures... they're beautiful.”
“She is beautiful. I gave you so little of myself—one of the smallest cells in a human body. Beyond that, I gave you almost nothing, no love, no real hopes for a future or life together. Yet somehow you took what little I gave you and made this incredible young witch.”
There was no way it could be true. She had never given birth before—and yet proof of that birth was on the bed. There was her thumbprint, right next to a tiny footprint... Suddenly it was too much, and it frightened her. She looked from the sketchbook to him. He seemed to understand. With a flick of his wand, the notebook and all the scrolls flew to a table. He lowered himself beside her and gently ran his hand along the side of her face. Then he pulled her close.
That message on the chalkboard, so quickly erased, was still in her eyes. Hermione Granger is Renée Vector. There had been accusations, yelling and tears. Now there was consolation, gentle murmurs, tender caresses, and ultimately passion. She lay in his arms when it was over, unable to stop thinking about all the lost chances she and Severus had. She couldn't stop a few tears, and when she felt his lips on her face, she looked up and saw some in his eyes, too.
A/N: Thank you, dear reader, for your patience with me. Thank you especially to Kyria of Delphi and Owlbait for beta reading!