Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Warning: There's some potential voyeurism here.
“Ah, wife, I couldn't do this without you,” Severus whispered into Septima's ear. “I'm selfish enough to love that you're here when I need you.”
He sounded much more himself. “Are you—is this better?”
“Much.” He snuggled close. “Now I understand why the Death Eaters always encourage each other to get married.” He yawned.
“Why is that?”
“Ah... witch... swee...” he mumbled, ending in a sound that was more a snore than anything else. She sighed with a smile. Perhaps he would tell her tomorrow.
A throat cleared near the doorway. Septima gasped and jumped. “I believe he no longer has need of your services, Professor Vector. Why don't you run along to your own rooms?”
She sat up, pulling the sheet over her chest, but the arms around her tightened. She realized that although he was asleep, Severus was aware that she had moved. He definitely wanted her here. “He said for me to stay.”
“He meant until you had healed his hurts. It appears you've done an adequate job.”
Her voice became husky as she repeated it. “He said for me to stay. I said that I would. I'm not going to leave him. What if some hidden injury resurfaces? What if he needs me for some other reason? I'm his wife, and I belong at his side here, in our rooms.”
“You're risking everything for some silly whim.”
“I don't believe it's a whim on either my or Severus's part, and I don't believe it's that much of a risk.”
“He doesn't love you.”
Did that always have to be rubbed into her face? “I know,” she said around the lump that was suddenly in her throat, “but it didn't matter tonight, and he may still need me. I'm his wife, and this is my privilege and duty. I belong by his side, and you won't separate us any more.”
“You're his wife, but you'll never be his love.”
There was no answer to that. By being silent she would hold her ground.
“What do you know about his true love? Did you know her?”
Septima looked up at that. There was still nothing she could say.
“I knew her. She was far more beautiful than you. I could tell you about her.”
Septima was tempted. She would know what she lacked. If she knew, then maybe—
Maybe nothing. If she knew, it would be between them that she had gone behind his back. It would separate them more surely than any living arrangement could. Severus had said that the other witch was dead. He had said that even if she were alive, he would probably stay with Septima. It was the smallest of crumbs, but she clung to it and to her pride. He'd told her bits and pieces over the last year or two. He would tell her the rest in his own time.
She very deliberately straightened the sheet over her breasts. “I prefer to know what Severus chooses to tell me. I won't solicit gossip, Headmaster.”
She slid back down into the bed as Dumbledore left the room. Had he just come in from the lounge, or had he stood there and watched the whole time? What had he hoped to gain? Was he really waiting for Severus to shout some Death Eater secret in the throes of passion? She hoped he wasn't simply some sort of voyeur.
Septima slid down and pulled her husband close, petting and stroking his hair. He groaned contentedly and nestled within her arms.
She awoke to the sensation of being fondled. She was half uncovered and half within her husband's arms. She was well aware of his intentions as she rolled more fully into his embrace.
“I want to make love with you right now.”
There was no baby to interfere. “What a very good idea,” she whispered with a smile.
“Don't you two ever do anything else?”
They turned and saw the Headmaster standing just inside the doorway.
“What are you doing here?” Severus asked with a glare as Septima pulled the sheet around herself. “Have you been here all night?”
“No, I returned a little while ago to see if there was anything you can tell me.”
“There's a thing or two that I'll tell you, after I've had a chance to wake up and collect my thoughts.”
“I fear you'll get distracted and forget something...”
Severus sighed and sat up, careful to keep Septima covered. “I'll tell you something I learned last night.”
Dumbledore leaned in. “Yes?” he said eagerly.
“I finally understand that when Death Eaters perform acts of Dark Magic, the darkness enters their souls, but when dark spells are cast upon them, they only feel the effects of the curses, not the darkness.”
“I don't understand your point.”
“Those who have committed to their partners, through marriage or other means, share their lives and great emotion and beauty between them. When the witch made love to me earlier, she dispelled the effects of the Cruciatus. I should have realized all this term when she alone could make my arm sting less.”
“You don't share love with this witch.”
Severus looked at Septima a long moment as though he were assessing something. “Perhaps not, but we've shared our work for years, much of our lives, and our chil—child. We share great beauty, and she made the effects of the Cruciatus go away—most of them anyhow. I've never felt so much better so quickly.
Dumbledore sighed. “What am I to do with this information?”
“Return the witch's things to these quarters and let us live as husband and wife. I will continue to do your dirty work, and she will look after me.”
“Severus, I really don't think you should base something like that on a single toss in bed.”
“She's my wife, and she looks after my interests. She will enable me to do the tasks you have set for me. That's all we need care about, Headmaster.”
“Severus, there are plenty of others who would share your life with you, if you would just let them in.”
“I've made my choice, or fate has made it for me.”
Dumbledore looked years older as his shoulders slumped. “I still think...”
“I'm not entirely ready to make my report. I need more time with my wife before I'll be ready to speak at any length. I'll come to your office before lunch,” Severus said firmly.
A/N: Thank you to Kyria of Delphi and Owlbait, as always!