Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Septima felt empty when she awoke. Her body was slimmer than she was accustomed to feeling; the baby was gone. In a panic, she sat up and looked around. Then she relaxed. She was at Eileen's house. She could hear voices in the other room. She got out of bed and bumped into something that wasn't there before.
It was a bassinet that had been set just an arm's reach from the bed. Soft sucking noises came up from it. She leaned down and saw the baby chewing his fist. “Oh,” she sighed in joy as he looked toward her. She picked him up and held him close. He started rooting around, so she sat back down on the bed and loosened her nightgown.
“...I've been keeping secrets from Albus Dumbledore since my first week at Hogwarts,” said a voice Septima recognized as Poppy Pomfrey's.
“That long?” answered Eileen.
“I patched up some Slytherins and Gryffindors after an altercation, and he wanted to know what had happened and who started it. I refused to tell him and suggested that he ask the students if he really wanted to know. Otherwise he could just punish the students he assumed were guilty, just as he always did.”
“That did get tiresome when I was a student.”
“The next thing I knew, he was rifling through my thoughts.”
“He didn't! That's a violation of the code of Healing professionals!”
“He did indeed. I turned away from him and started packing my bag. I was halfway to Hogsmeade Station when he caught up with me, full of apologies.”
“How did you fix it?”
“I was angry enough to keep walking, and he walked right beside me, trying to justify his behavior. Finally, he was able to see that I meant it. I think he lost other Matrons in the same way. He's never understood why I insist upon privacy, but he respects it.”
“So he hasn't tried Legilimency since then?”
“He can't. I made him swear an Unbreakable Vow then and there that he would never do it again. The station master was the bonder. Then I got rid of all the pictures and portraits.”
The two witches laughed over it while Septima thought it over. How many times, during the last nine months, had she seen Dumbledore try to ask questions he had no business asking and Poppy serenely bat those questions away?
“We'll peek in and see if she's awake,” said Eileen's voice, coming down the hallway.
The door opened, and Septima cleared her throat. “Come on in.”
Poppy came in and sat on the edge of the bed. “Eileen says you did very well.”
Septima smiled in response. “She and Severus were wonderful.”
“May I see him?”
Septima's arms tightened before she realized she was being foolish. “Of course,” she said. Poppy took the baby and crooned to him. “Oh, you're a strong-willed one, aren't you? They'll know who your father is, for sure, with that black hair and those angry eyes.” The little body in her arms curled up, and the small face twisted up in preparation to cry. “You're mad at me for taking you away from your feeding, aren't you?”
Poppy handed the baby back to his mother and smiled. “He's a healthy one.”
“Don't you think he's perfect?” asked Septima.
“He's a child to be proud of,” she agreed.
Septima brought the child to her breast and watched as he clamped his little jaws down. “He eats so eagerly.”
“That's good, but I want to know how my patient is. Are you up to what's ahead of you?”
“You mean with Dumbledore?”
“He's going to be furious with the lot of us.”
“He'll be the most angry with me. For some reason, I think he hates me.”
“Can't you guess?” asked Poppy. “He hates that Severus loves you.”
Septima smiled ruefully. “He's wasting his energy, then. Severus doesn't love me.”
Poppy smiled indulgently. “Severus has gone to a lot of work to make sure you could be together while keeping your baby and your jobs. He wouldn't enter into all the secrets you share if he didn't care for you a great deal.”
“It's all for his son.” Septima looked down. The baby's hands were balled into fists that were pressed tightly against his cheeks as if to improve the feeding process somehow.
“I think a certain amount of it is for his son's mother,” said Poppy. “I need to get back to the school. The Headmaster may ask me how you are doing. I'll tell him I've seen you, and you're exactly as you should be. When will you be coming back to the school?”
“I think we'll keep her here until they've adjusted to his two week growth spurt,” said Eileen. “After that it will still be a struggle, but things will be well established by then. That's when they should start working at establishing the rhythm of their life at Hogwarts.”
“I'll be ready for the inevitable questions,” said Poppy. “When will it be in the paper?”
“They took the pictures today, and they said to look for it Monday morning. Severus plans to tell Dumbledore everything at breakfast that day.”
“Is that wise?”
“He doesn't think the Headmaster will act rashly at breakfast and Severus says it's time that everything be out in the open.”
“Perhaps he's right. There's certainly no hiding a baby or a witch who was pregnant and now is not.”
A/N: Thank you, as always, to Kyria of Delphi and Owlbait for beta reading!