Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling.
On Monday morning, Septima gave Nicky his bath with Eileen guiding her. “It's clear you've done this before,” she said.
“I feel like I just needed to be reminded, but I don't remember this at all.”
They both cooed and smiled at the grimace on the baby's face as they washed his hair.
“My granddaughter is an incredible young witch.”
Septima flushed in annoyance. “I shouldn't have let her go. I should have fought more.”
Eileen laughed dryly. “Fought whom?”
She shook her head. “I don't know. Severus says I never once put her down. I must have known someone was going to take her from me. Yet at some point I must have put her down.”
“You were probably exhausted.”
“Maybe I should have fought Severus harder. I should have fought harder for Severus.”
“The other witch has been under his skin his whole life.”
Septima clutched her son to her chest and looked at Eileen. “All three of you have been far too easy on me. What if, after my memories come back, it turns out that I did it all exactly the way the paperwork shows it? What if I lied to Severus and then lied about Severus and signed her away without a backwards glance?”
Eileen looked at Septima kindly, but with tears in her own eyes. “You know very well that you've been looking backwards since you lost her. You didn't give her up willingly and you've tortured yourself with her loss ever since.”
“I'm sure I could have done something.”
“I could have done more for my baby, too. I got caught up in what seemed like a romance, but it soured quickly. My family abandoned me, and my husband turned out to be a low-life whose greatest love was the bottle. I spent so much of my time looking after myself that I had precious little time or energy to look after my son. He wore charity clothes that were too big, too small, or a combination of both. He had to use my books, or ones I bought second-hand. But somehow, he worked his way through and thrived. And somehow, he managed to get you into his life. Now look at everything you've given him.”
“I love him. I tried to let him go. I don't know how many times I've tried, but I just can't.”
“I'm glad you didn't succeed. He needs you.” At the look in her mother-in-law's eye, Septima decided to let it go.
Eileen went with Septima to Severus's library. Now that she had left the bedroom for more than her own necessities, Septima wanted to be someplace different. Eileen helped her move furniture around to make herself comfortable, and then started a fire for her. It was just as cozy as Septima once imagined to curl up on the couch with her baby and a book.
She didn't read much, however. The clock struck the hour, and she imagined Severus delivering his news. Poppy would laugh in her sleeve, Septima was sure, but she wondered how the rest of the faculty would take the news. She recalled being somewhat surprised about part of it, herself.
* * * * *
“We have to get married,” Severus said. “That way Dumbledore can't fire you over the unmarried parents rule he claims exists.”
“Won't he just have it annulled due to breach of whatever contract he has with you?”
“It's not explicitly stated in my contract. He'll use the clause that says, 'duties as the Headmaster determines' or some such to tie it up before the Wizengamot. It would never go through, but there would be a lot of scandal, and more stress than you should have.” He patted her tummy at that. “Lucius has helped me out. Pius Thicknesse will formalize the documents and then keep them away from the public view until it's so late that any question of breach of contract will be null.”
He started tugging on her hand. Suddenly she realized he meant to go to the Ministry right then.
“We can't go now! I'm not ready!”
“What do you need to do?”
“I'd like to at least wear something pretty,” she looked down at herself. She was wearing faded blue jeans and didn't even have a bra underneath her tee shirt. She'd often gone without as a student, but now was forced to wear one most of the time due to gravity, age, and now pregnancy.
“You're fine as you are,” he said. He pulled her close. “This is one of my favorite outfits.”
“How can you say that?”
His left hand was cupping her bottom while his right hand was sliding up under the shirt. “Do you really have to ask?”
She broke free fairly easily. It turned out that he was only getting a quick grope. “I want to look nice for our—our wedding.” Septima didn't have time to think about the event that they were discussing, that she'd only wished and dreamed hopelessly about for fifteen years, but it still gave her a little pause.
“We don't have time for flower girls and ushers and that sort of thing.”
“But changing into a nice dress won't take more than a few minutes.”
She saw in his eyes that he was teasing. “No, it won't.” He let her go and sat down with his coffee in the lounge.
Oh, by the way,” he called through the door as she rifled through her wardrobe for a particular dress, “I thought we'd stop at my mother's house after the ceremony.”
She put her head out of the door. “Your—mother?”
“She's a midwife. I trust Poppy and all, but—” He stood up and walked toward her. “I do like that outfit better, but I'm not sure it's right for the Ministry.”
Septima was standing in nothing but her panties, she had been so startled by this revelation. She held the dress over her chest. “Severus, your mother? Why am I hearing about your mother for the first time today?”
He shrugged. “It never came up.”
“Your mother is a midwife, and it never came up when I was pregnant before?”
He was staring at her breasts in a way that suggested conversation was futile, so she backed into her room and pulled the white sundress over her head. She decided to think about it later, perhaps after she'd done something about her hair.
It was much later that she thought about it. It all worked out, and Eileen turned out to be perfectly lovely. After it was all over, Severus did more than casually grope her. He'd caressed and loved her in a way that thrilled her, especially when he'd been overcome by passion and had whispered into her ear, “Ah, love... witch... wife...” Something within her released, and she abandoned herself to him more freely then ever before.
Thank you so much to Kyria of Delphi and Owlbait for beta reading!