Disclaimer: The characters here and the world they inhabit are the creation and property of JK Rowling and her assigns.
Septima followed Severus blindly. He had magically sealed her eyes shut at his mother's house so that she wouldn't see where he took her. “This is the only way you can be brought into the house,” he said. “After you're there, Dumbledore will give you the actual address.”
She bumped into his back, and then he whispered, “Be absolutely silent as we go in. If you make the slightest noise, there will be hell to pay.” There was a sound of a door opening, and then they were inside.
“You're supposed to meet privately with the Headmaster in the kitchen,” whispered a voice that sounded like Remus Lupin. “I'll take Septima to the study for now.”
“Finite Incantatem!” said Severus in an undertone. He squeezed Septima's hand and said, “I'm sure it won't be long.” She watched him leave, and her face must have looked wistful.
Remus showed her into a room that was dark but at least had a cheerful fire in the grate. “Sit down, Septima. Please, be comfortable.”
She looked around. There was a straight-backed chair in front of a desk or table that was covered with texts. Nearby was a wing-back that didn't look too dusty. “All right,” she whispered, choosing that chair.
Remus cast a spell at another wing-back. A puff of dust flew into the air and dissipated. He cast another spell and half a dozen Doxies flew out screaming and swarmed toward the drapes. Nothing happened with his third or fourth spells, so he gingerly sat down.
“How have you been, dear?” Remus looked at her as warmly as ever.
“I don't know where to start,” she answered. “How have you been?”
“Sirius has been staying at my apartment; somehow he's able to access his bank account even though he dares not show his face in public, and we've done all right for ourselves. We just moved here when Dumbledore said he needed a meeting house for the Order.”
“You mentioned a witch you fancied. How is she?”
He shook his head. “I don't know what to do about her. We fancy each other, but how can I expose her to my other nature?”
“If she loves you—”
“Septima, I can't expose her. And what about her family?”
“Her parents are living?”
“Her father wouldn't mind, but her mother... I can't ask her mother to give up dreams of a normal son-in-law.”
Septima looked at her hands and considered her own choices. “Remus, take the chance, if you'll take advice from a witch who's muffed so much of her own life. I love a wizard to whom I'll always be the second choice. If I had ever thought he loved me too, I would have married him when we were still kids and let the rest of it settle itself.”
Remus seemed happier discussing Septima's life. “He doesn't deserve you.”
“It doesn't matter. I can't be apart from him.”
“Does he treat you all right?”
“I feel treasured and cherished when I'm with him, and he needs me. The night Voldemort came back he was in such pain—tortured near to madness—and I was the one who could help him.”
“You're sure, then?”
Septima smiled and nodded.
“All right.” He patted her hand. “How is the baby we didn't conceive?”
“Just amazing,” Septima smiled. “It's so much work, and I never get to sleep, but I love him to pieces.”
Remus sat back, resulting in a squeal from a Doxy that hadn't been flushed out yet. He stood up and repeated the one spell that had removed the others. When that Doxy and two others had moved to the drapes, he sat down again. He looked at her in satisfaction. “You seem happy, as though you've found your place.”
“I've loved Severus and taught at Hogwarts too long to think it will last forever, but for now...” Septima shrugged.
“I suppose, now that You-know-who is back, that's all any of us can plan upon. We have whatever we have for now.”
Septima leaned forward. “Which is why, if you have a chance for happiness, you should take it.”
Remus shrugged and was going to say something, when a voice at the door said, “And whom do we have here?”
Remus stood. “Sirius! I'd like to introduce you to Septima Vector.”
Septima stood, too. It was the first time she'd ever really met this famous wizard, and the first time she'd seen him since he was a student at Hogwarts. “Good evening, Mr. Black.”
He took her hand and somehow managed to gently maneuver her closer as he looked her up and down. “She's certainly a pretty one, Moony.” He lifted her hand to his lips and Septima had a vision of this man taking her somewhere—bedroom, salon, seraglio—and knew she wouldn't emerge the same woman who went in. It was as frightening as it was stimulating.
“Septima Vector... Now that's a name that would look good next to mine on a gravestone.”
Septima tried to pull her hand away, but he held it fast. “I think Septima Black would look even better.”
She gaped and looked over at Remus, who shrugged ruefully. “Please excuse my friend's macabre humor. He's developed some dark thoughts since his time at Azkaban.”
Septima didn't know how to respond. She opened and shut her mouth several times, hoping something would come to her. Familiar hands slid around her hips, and she felt Severus step behind her. “It's a pity Black didn't make this odd proposal prior to your becoming Septima Snape, wife. You might have become mistress of all this.” Severus's elegant hand indicated the Doxy-infested drapes, the dusty furniture, and the dark corners in the room.
“Now, Snape, I was just having a bit of fun with her...”
“Indeed. I came to let her know that Dumbledore wishes to speak with her.”
“Alone?” Meeting Sirius Black had made her feel cold and frightened for some reason, as though some vestige of the Dementors who once guarded him still clung to him. She cursed herself; this sudden display of neediness would haunt her at three in the morning for the next several nights.
However, Severus smiled, clearly pleased. “I think we can both meet with him, together.”
A/N: Thank you, as always, to Kyria of Delphi, for her constant support and help!