A/N: Happy Friday! I hope you all had a great week. Please enjoy this fluffy little chapter. I'm sorry to those who aren't particularly fond of the Severus/Gloria thing but it's not going away because I love it.
Chapter 97: Star Gazing
Severus returned to the house swiftly, determined to dive into Remus' writing but as he came around the side of his house, he found Peter and Gloria on the terrace and George by the kitchen door. The two above stared up at the stair on the beautiful clear night and only looked upon him when he came into view.
"What have you been up to?" He asked as he dismounted and looked up the marble steps to the lady and her brother.
"It is a beautiful gift for star gazing," Gloria answered with a wistful sigh that made her sound more like Cassandry.
"She's foolish, it's cold. I've laid out your night things Professor. You all had best come in before you catch your deaths," Peter said in a tone to scold but Gloria waved him off.
"I believe your brother may be right about the cold," Severus said as he handed the reins to George and sent him off with the horse.
"I am not bothered by it," Gloria said saucily, "but should the master order me back to the kitchen, to fetch him anything because he hardly ate at dinner, I would obey."
"Eat at this hour?" Peter gasped.
"I'm afraid I'll not be sleeping either," Severus said with a nod to the lady and she sauntered off. "Was my letter sent?"
"Yes, but we've received no reply as of yet," Peter answered.
"Then I release you from your service tonight. I'll not keep you any longer, and I wont be going to bed just yet," Severus confessed. "I am hungry, your sister was right, I hardly ate, and now I have business to attend to."
"Very well then I will find my brother and we will leave you," Peter said as Gloria returned with a tea service. "Sister, do you come along?" He asked.
"No, but I wont be far behind you," She answered as she caught Severus' eye again. "The master is hungrier than he realizes."
"Well I'm not surprised," Peter huffed. "As you said, and I can vouch, he ate hardly a thing at dinner, on account of young Harry's tantrum and when he returned he didn't touch his plate at all," Peter quipped.
"You know, you are right," Severus said as he felt his stomach grumbled.
"I had prepared some sandwiches, just in case, if you'd like those with your tea," Gloria said with a laugh. "I can bring them out to you, or we can go in."
"I think I'd prefer to go in, it is cold," Severus said.
"Come now, wouldn't you prefer the star gazing. It will only take me a moment to fetch the tray, I'll be back," she protested and Severus relented.
True to her word, and only a few minutes later, she returned and set the tray down on the rattan furniture that had come out of storage already and took a place beside Severus on the sofa there.
"And what is that you've found?" She asked and eyed the hand made notebook he'd been perusing while he waited.
"This was the reason for my rendezvous. Remus has been journaling, it would seem," he answered.
"Is he all right?" She asked and poured out tea for them both.
"Thomblin makes a point to tell me that he is but I don't believe it. He's living in the forest, cut off from everyone, except the creatures he's befriending. It is uncivilized. I've sent along the potion but he seems to feel the need to live like one of them for now and that is very distressing for me."
"Sadly, he is one of them," she said and handed Severus a cup of tea. "Or he is in his mind. One day he will come out of hiding and it will be up to someone to bring him back to civilization. It should be us, perhaps he already know that but for now it is a very sad state of affairs."
"Yes, I agree," Severus said as he set down the book and accepted the tea.
"And are you to have more moonlight rendezvous with strange creatures from now on? Should I be jealous?" She asked teasing to break the darkness that had come over him.
"No, not at all," he answered. "You have no need for jealousy, and should you want Lily removed from the ballroom I'll have that done as well, but yes, I will be meeting Mr. Thomblin again for updates from Remus."
"I'm teasing," she said with a nudge. "I'm not jealous of Lily or anyone else, only concerned for your safety and these midnight trusts all alone do not sit well with me. And you will say that there is nothing that can hurt you within the confines of the estate, but please, be more practical. That will be my argument and I will worry no matter what you say. What if your horse goes lame or you fall from your ride and you should break your neck out there all alone?"
"You're worried about me?" He asked with a mischievous grin. "I was fine, all is well, and I wasn't all alone. There was a centaur with me."
"Of course I was worried," she said and turned her face to the sky. "And I worry now about you staying awake all night brooding over this book. It can wait till morning."
"Yes, I know," he said, "and yet here you are out here in this chill to gaze at the stars."
"Eat something," she huffed and handed him a plate. "And then off to bed with you."
"I will obey, madame," he said with a chuckle.
"I came to the terrace to watch the stars because they would have told me if danger was afoot. Everything is written there if you know how to read them, it wasn't only potions that I excelled in. I would have sent George out to find you had I been truly concerned."
"I assure you, I was perfectly safe."
"Maybe but I am allowed to worry about you."
"You and you alone."
"You know, the quiet, the stars, the chill in the spring and the smell just before it rains, those were some of the things that I missed the most in London and they were the first things to renew my soul when I was brought back here," she said softly. "And this terrace is the very best place for star gazing."
"I'd not noticed it before," he said honestly and looked up again.
"You wouldn't, you have too many responsibilities, too many new tasks to accomplish. When do you have time or take time to see all of this?"
"I really haven't, you're right, and the last year and a bit have passed by so quickly...I've hardly noticed any of it."
"You will some day," she said and sighed, and pulled her own cloak tightly around her and tucked her feet up into it. "But I was born here and was raised in it. It is everything comforting and right in the world."
"I feel like, should I ever wonder where you are, I will find you here," he said.
"Or in the kitchen," She giggled. "Or the gardens."
"But my dear, you shouldn't always want to be hidden away down there."
"Who else is going to feed you?" She asked.
"I see," he said and sighed.
"Should my prospects change, I would not wholly give it up but I suppose I would have much different duties to keep me occupied. You'll not starve with my family in the house, nor will you want for companionship," she teased.
"Well that is a relief," he said sarcastically and received a harsh nudge in response but then was rewarded as she cuddled into him.
"I suppose you would not wish to do anything rash?" He asked in a whisper as he wrapped an arm around her and looked away from the stars.
"No, indeed, we have far to many things going on just now, and I have much to learn about this estate from a very different perspective if I am to be of any use to you."
"And I suppose you would wish to have more of my attention to convince you of my affections?"
"I'm convinced, but I would not shove you away should it suit you. Perhaps more star gazing or midnight ramblings among the fireflies in the garden," she whispered in his ear and pecked at his cheek.
"And I suppose, when things have settled down a touch, I should speak in earnest with your father?"
"I suppose you should," she said and at last their eyes met.
"I will ask you properly, I promise," he vowed.
"I'll act surprised," she smiled and kissed him.