It was torture to wait for him to wake. Hermione tried to read; to make tea, bake (or, more accurately, burn it all), but her mind kept wandering back to him. He was still sleeping, peacefully; it had been hours since he came home. The mediwizard gave her antibiotics to fight off infection and told her he'd wake when he was ready.
"Oh, Crooks," she sighed as she plopped down to watch reruns of Happy Days for probably the thirtieth time in an hour, a cup of freshly brewed tea in her hands, still damp from her long soak in the tub; wrapped up in an oversized men's cable knit jumper and sweats, she felt at ease, sort of at least. There was a hum stretching in the back of her brain, vibrating like a violin string, reverberating ever so faintly.
He should be awake by now, she thought dimly as she sipped the tea, only to burn her tongue. On the screen, the main characters tried to solve their silly high school romance problems only to the amusement of the viewer; she was hardly paying attention, to be fair.
"I'm going to go check up on him," she told Crookshanks, who was perched up on the mantle, staring down at her with his yellow eyes; his only response was a soft noise, much like a huff to be frank, and she mused the idea that he was agreeing with her.
He was just waking when Hermione entered. He was lying in the middle of her bed, the bandages of his wounds looking a bit bloody; his head rose a few centimeters and then swayed, his half-lidded black eyes looking at her suspiciously. "Hello, Snape," she said softly, setting down her mug on the nightstand.
His fur rose and a snarl rattled from his chest.
"Oh, don't give me that," she sighed heavily as she flopped down, momentarily forgetting about him. "You're all bark and no bite." The force in which she sat down with caused him to bounce. He yelped as the jump jarred his wounds and he crashed back down onto the pillow. The noise sent her heart skipping as he trembled.
Minutes clawed their way into her brain as they sat in silence. "Sorry," she muttered as he slowly climbed to his feet. His head swung and black eyes locked on her; something told her he could understand every single thing she'd said. Her face warmed.
"I think I like you better this way," she said quietly, looking the other way; he let out a short bark in reply as he clawed at the pillow, settling back down slowly. "Do you want anything to eat?" she asked.
Snape blinked those fathomless black eyes at her, darker than night itself, darker than his short, choppy fur; and then he turned and curled up into an egg, flicking his whip-like tail at her. "Fine," Hermione sighed as she rose to her feet and shuffled out.
The door swung shut behind her.
It was hard to cook. It was even harder to not burn everything. Normally, she was a great cook but somehow knowing the man—er, dog?—of her dreams was asleep in her apartment made her a bit clumsy and absent-minded. She kept thinking of him, seeing him lying there, blood pooling beneath him, still as death.
She dropped the pot and hot water splashed up, spilling over her fingers. She dropped the pot onto the floor and water spilled across her toes, sending her stumbling back. A few tears filled her eyes as she stared at the hot water and her burnt toes. Even more slipped down her cheeks and then she was on the floor, sitting in cooling water, feeling utterly overwhelmed and useless and just generally shitty.
She picked up the pan and threw it. It smashed into the floor and skidded into the TV room, nearly taking out Crookshanks, who yowled indignantly and scrambled to the TV room and crawled onto the couch. A long scratch ruined the floor. She couldn't find the energy to care. The wetness seeped into her jeans and socks; she shivered. The click of claws made her look up; Snape stood in the doorway, panting.
"Sorry," she croaked as she got to her feet, only to slip and fall flat on her ass again. The fall jarred her funny bone and she lay there, ignoring the cold water soaking her clothes, exhausted and too unstable to deal with this. "I didn't mean to—" she started but he walked closer, looking powerful and dangerous even in his disheveled condition, looking down at her, black eyes so familiar but he looked kinder than she'd ever seen him, even when he was staring up into the eyes of the love of his life.
She pressed her face into her knees, taking several breaths to calm herself and a cold dog nose pressed behind her ear, frigid and damp, snuffing, nosing through her wet hair. She quickly stood and Vanished the water and repaired the floor. "I need a shower," she said absently and headed for the bathroom. She slammed the door and could hear Snape huffing at Crookshanks; the cat meowed in response. Maybe they're having a conversation about me, she thought dimly as she stripped down.
Under the harsh, bleaching light, her scars looked as though a thousand shards of glass had been pushed under her skin. Nude, she evaluated her body, the scars and discolorations, the freckles she hated, the birthmarks and moles, the hair she needed to shave off to be smooth without cutting up her thighs unintentionally.
Her thighs were covered in scars and, as she reached up in the linen closet for a towel to lay down across the floor as the water ran, warming, she stared at the stretch marks on her voluptuous breasts. They ran from underneath and curled close to her nipples; she sighed and pulled a breast up, staring at the marks in distaste.
It was as she sank into the water that she did it.
Maybe it was because of Snape, maybe because of the loneliness or the anxiety or just the anger, but she got out of the tub, soaking wet, slick and shiny and not so brand new and opened her secret box stored under the counter.
She opened the lid, pulled out a pack of cigarettes, a lighter and a bag of single razor blades. She placed the box back under and shook out a cancer stick as she headed back to the bathtub, full of hot water. Her damp hair stuck to her shoulders and breasts as she sank back into the water, admiring the way she looked under the liquid, prettier than reality.
She flicked the lighter on and lit her first cigarette in years.
And then opened the bag of razors.