Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Severus had learned to tell when the witch was nervous or upset. He knew she was making an effort for him, but her attention was clearly divided. For that matter, he had the unsettling feeling that they'd had an audience in the middle of the night, and he wanted to be sure that there wasn't one now. He reached for his wand.
Nothing appeared, and with a twitch of his wand, the bedroom door shut. Septima slid out of the bed and went to the loo. She was back soon and smiled shyly. “Does it really work that way?
He knew what she meant. “I can't imagine what else could have returned me to health so quickly. Your love and all the things we share may just keep me from going mad.”
She sat gingerly on the edge of the bed. “I should go fetch our son.”
“He's perfectly happy with his gran.”
“Then I should go upstairs to pack.”
“Dumbledore will have the elves handle everything. Since there are no finals this year, there's not much to do for our students. There's not a single thing for you to do right now other than lay within my arms and be my wife.”
He tugged at her elbow, and she laid down next to him. “Is there somewhere you'd rather be, love?”
She snuggled close and shook her head. “No, it's just that I keep remembering so many things to do.”
“They'll all wait a few minutes... or hours.”
She slid her hand along his face, and he closed his eyes and breathed deeply. “Septima, if you hadn't been here last night, I would be up in the Hosptial Wing, barely able to move.”
“That can't be true. Poppy is so good at her job.”
“Do you know what became of Frank and Alice Longbottom?”
“I think I was hovering near madness myself, last night. All I could think of was you, and you didn't come.”
“I came as soon as I could.” He hugged her tighter and she winced. He sat up and found a bruise on her shoulder.
“I wasn't able to use the Floo. Poppy summoned me, and I tried, but it didn't work.”
“He blocked it.” He swore under his breath.
“So I ran down the stairs as quickly as I could. I didn't think I could breathe until I saw that you were safe.”
“I should be ashamed for taking such advantage, but instead I love that you worry so much about me that you would run through the halls of Hogwarts.”
She had softened in his arms, so he sensed she would be receptive to him. He leaned over to kiss her, reasserting his place as the one who usually set the pace of their lovemaking. His hands touched her body, remembering the parts of her he'd always loved and paying special homage to the parts that had changed due to the children she had borne him.
“I love that you're here for me,” he whispered. “I love that your body is always a gift to me, and I love the children that you've given me.”
“You gave them to me, first,” she whispered with a sigh. She did that maddening thing with her knee again, and as so often happened, he lost track of conscious thought, only sure that through what they shared, the last residual terror, chill, and pain of the night before were pushed far away from him.
* * * * *
It was harder work than it should have been to climb up into the Headmaster's tower, but he made it. He made mental notes of all the hurts Septima would need to attend when they were next together. Nicky would complicate things, but he was sleeping longer and longer overnight. With the witch less than an arm's reach away, Severus knew they would find a moment.
“Come in, Severus,” said Dumbledore pleasantly, as though there had not been any contentious discussion downstairs. “You said you've learned some things?”
“He was particularly angry about the prophecy. At first, he thought I had deliberately left something out or repeated it incorrectly. Then he decided that I must have withheld something. Finally, he brutalized my mind. I allowed him to see everything I saw and heard in the Hog's Head that night, but he's unconvinced.”
Dumbledore ran his fingers through his beard for a moment. Then he took off his glasses and cleaned them. After very deliberately setting them back upon his face, he finally said, “He wants to see and hear the prophecy for himself. We'll need to protect the Seer more than ever, and the record in the Hall of Mysteries.”
“Is there more to it? Does it matter?”
Dumbledore shrugged. “I'm not sure hearing the entire prophecy could do either Voldemort or the boy any good, now that events have been set in motion. But Voldemort thinks it matters, and perhaps we can save lives by letting him think there's something important that he's missing. He'll waste time on the issue, and we can make our plans. Since Fudge is being so difficult, this will give us just the slightest advantage.”
“If that's all, then...”
“That's not all. I'd like to address your living arrangements, or more accurately, your sleeping arrangements.”
“The witch is moving back to my rooms, whether or not you return the door to the other bedroom. I need her near me, even if it means being crowded with the baby.”
“You don't really need her.”
It was time to use an excuse he'd been saving for years. Severus half turned and looked out one of the windows. “The morning after our first time—her first time ever—I tried to make sense of the fact that I couldn't seem to leave her bed that night. I thought to myself that perhaps she's one of those witches that a wizard just has to shag at every opportunity until he tires of her.”
“In all these years, you haven't?”
“Something came up, I took the Dark Mark, and we separated.” He turned back toward the Headmaster's desk. “You've separated us every time since then.”
Was that a flash of satisfaction that he saw on Dumbledore's face? “So you think if you were to have constant, ready access to her, then you might finally lose interest?”
Dumbledore sighed. “I need your full attention, Severus. Let's do whatever it takes.”
Thank you, as always, to Kyria of Delphi and Owlbait!