It's been a week, I think, since I was carted to St. Mungo's, and I'm going insane. I'm in a quiet room with no roommate. Healers check on me periodically, and mediwitches pour potions down my throat, spelled to make me swallow. Nutritive potions mostly, as well as potions to keep me hydrated and healing potions for the wound on my neck.
None of them ever say a word. I know I can't respond, but the lack of any sort of stimulus for my mind is taking its toll. I swear, if I could move I'd Avada Kadavra myself.
"Hello, Professor. I hope you are feeling well today."
I am so grateful to hear another human voice that I find in myself a strange lack of disappointment that it is Hermione Granger. At this point, company is company. As long as Neville Longbottom doesn't come strolling in.
Who am I kidding? I have fallen so low that even Longbottom would be welcome.
"I'm sorry I haven't visited sooner, it's been a hard week. So many funerals."
Of course. I've been wondering why none of my former coworkers have been in to check on me, as well as no one from the Order. True, they thought me a traitor. Perhaps even with Potter singing my praises, they will not be able to forgive me Albus' death. I haven't forgiven myself, so I hardly expect others to. However, I had thought that at least Hagrid or Poppy might have ventured to my bedside. They both have forgiving natures. A week's worth of funerals would explain even their absence.
For the next hour, Miss Granger informs me of the events of the final battle as well as a long list of the dead. So many of my little snakelings dead and there was so little I could do to prevent it. The Dark Lord would have had my head if there was even a rumor about my steering them clear of the Death Eaters. Now, the great bastard is finally dead, and perhaps my house can return to what it was before a madman used it to fill his army.
I find myself sorry to hear about Lupin. Oh, he had no business teaching children with his…infirmary, but he wasn't a bad sort. He was by far the best of the Marauders. Nymphadora gone too. The woman was a menace with her clumsiness, but she always had a kind word for me, even when I didn't deserve one.
That one of the Weasley twins died is perhaps the greatest loss. Such clever young men…they really should have been sorted into Slytherin, though I suppose it's a blessing in these times that they were not. I can't imagine what Arthur and Molly are going through. We've never been close-- my life as a spy prevented close attachments--but we always got on well. I wish I could tell them how sorry I am for their loss.
I wish I could talk at all.
For the next half an hour, Miss granger reads me articles out of Potionmaker Monthly. It's excruciating. The articles in that periodical are rather sophomoric in nature and the tone of the writing itself is bone dry. It's better than nothing, I suppose, but dear Merlin it is almost as mind numbingly dull as being trapped in my own head.
I am granted a reprieve by a mediwitch entering the room.
"Hello. Should I leave the room for a moment?"
"Oh…that's not necessary Miss. I've just come to give him a potion. I'll only be a moment."
It's a mediwizard this time. I can't usually tell unless they wear some perfume that clues me into their gender. The potion takes seconds and then I hear the sound of his footsteps as he heads for the door.
"One moment, Healer--"
"Healer Drumund, is this how my friend is usually treated when people come into his room for his care?"
"Well, yes. There isn't much we can do, you see, except nutritive potions and cleaning spells and the like. His condition--"
"I'm not speaking about his medical condition."
Huh. I've heard Miss Granger use that tone of voice on her fellow students when they were not doing something she thought they should. This should be far more entertaining than that dreadful potions journal.
"What seems to be the problem, Miss--"
"Granger. Hermione Granger. The problem, Mr. Drumund, is that you waltzed in here without even greeting Mr. Snape, poured a potion down his throat without checking his condition, and were ready to sail out of the room without one word to my friend. Is this how a patient of St. Mungo's is usually treated? Like a piece of furniture instead of a human being?"
"Listen, Miss Granger, it's kind of you to visit your friend here, but he's dead to the world he is. There's no point us talking to him if he doesn't even know we are here, is there?"
Oh, my. Miss Granger is not going to like that patronizing tone. If the man had any sense, which he obviously does not, he'd flee now or reach for his wand.
"You must be joking. There plentiful studies in medical journals, both wizarding and muggle, that document patients such as Mr. Snape remembering what they heard when they have awakened. Do you mean to tell me that this poor man has been lying here in silence for a week without even the words of common courtesy being spoken to him?"
"Now, Miss, I'm sure that you are worried about your friend, but I don't see as how a young witch such as yourself would know anything about the--"
"You will listen to me, and you will listen well. I am Hermione Granger. Perhaps you've heard of me? No? Then perhaps you noticed the article in yesterday's paper where it mentioned that I received an Order of Merlin, first class, for my war efforts. I stood on a dais between my friends, Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, and I accepted one of the highest honors that our society has because I am a war hero. I can tell you right now that I did not risk my life to defeat Voldemort so that some boneheaded knob can stand there and tell me to be a good little girl. I am not a good little girl."
"Ma'am, please put your wand away!"
"I will not. What I will do is hex your bollocks off if you do not get your supervisor in here immediately. Have I made myself very clear?"
"Yes, Ma'am. Right away, Ma'am."
A flurry of footsteps speeds from the room.
"I'm so sorry, Professor. I had no idea that you were being treated so shabbily. If I'd know, I would have found a way to come sooner. Last week was very hard."
Don't fret, Miss Granger. The recent melodrama in my room has perked me up sufficiently. You are a right spitfire when you are angry. I had no idea. It strikes me that Voldemort was lucky he lasted as long as he did with you on his heels.
"I have your medal here, Sir. I was going to tell you about it. I will keep it safe for you until you wake up, but for now I think you'd best wear it. I have more shouting to do I'm certain, and having the stage properly set, so to speak, will work in our favor."
She is a clever baggage. Was she always like this, or did the war bring it out of her?
I feel her slip the ribbon around my neck, and the weight of the medal on my chest. There's a screech of wood on the floor, and then my hand is lifted and held tightly. She's moved her chair closer to the bed…that's what the scraping sound was. It's oddly pleasant to have her hold my hand, even if I cannot return the embrace. Except for silent people lifting my head to force feed me potions, no one has touched me in some time.
"It's first class…just like mine. Kingsley wanted to make your second class, but we wouldn't hear of it."
I don't know how I feel about this. Once upon a time, such accolades meant a great deal to me, but that seems such a long time ago. Those dreams of recognition belonged to an angry man who hadn't yet been forced to kill his friend and colleague. Now, I rather think the entire wizarding world can kiss my ass.
"I've heard there's been some commotion in this room. What seems to be the trouble?"
It's an older woman's voice speaking in a polite but no nonsense tone of voice.
"Healer Santos, it's good to see you again, though I'm sorry it is because of such circumstances."
"Why, Miss Granger! I haven't seen you since that terrible night. So many wounded. My young mediwitch said some crazy woman pulled a wand on him, but surely--"
"I'm afraid it's true. That man was so disrespectful to my friend, Mr. Snape, and myself that I quite lost my temper."
"Please, call me Hermione."
Clever baggage. Now that she has someone in a position of authority, she's all that is calm and polite. It strikes me that I do not know this smart young woman at all. She's always been intelligent, but not always this sly.
"Hermione then, and you must call me Margret. Now then, you don't strike me as the sort to easily lose your temper. Why don't you tell me what is going on."
For the next several minutes, Hermione described in vivid detail what she thought of St. Mungo's staff and the shabby treatment and disrespect I had been treated with. She made much of my war hero status, and gently brought attention to the medal around my neck as she explained the reason for her visit today. She spoke concisely yet eloquently, making much of my actions during the war as well as the disrespect I had received since my arrival. I am not much used to being so emphatically defended. I find myself enjoying it far more than I would have expected. Perhaps that hunger for accolades has not deserted me so much as changed form.
"Hermione, I am so sorry that your friend has not received the treatment and respect that he so obviously deserves. Rest assured that his staff will be changed immediately, and he will not be treated so ill again while he resides with us here at St. Mungo's. You are quite correct. The fact that Mr. Snape is in a coma does not mean that he is not aware of his surroundings. We are overcrowded, I'm afraid. We have not the means of keeping him company as much as he needs, but he will neve go entire days without being spoken to again."
"Thank you, Margret. That is very kind. I will inform his friends that visitors are encouraged, and we should also be able to help."
The Healer left soon after that, and Miss Granger went back to that dismal potions journal. She only read a few minutes before she interrupted herself.
"I'm sorry, Professor, but this thing is rubbish, isn't it? If you don't mind, I think I'll try something a bit different."
I hear a rustling sound as she rummages for different reading material, then she begins.
"Lord Charlton arrived at Claymoor Manor after midnight, and no one was awake to see to his sweaty horse except the young cook, Sylvia. Leave off, I'll see to the horse myself, he said as he waved her help away. Nonsense, Sir. You get yourself inside and I'll see to your great beastie. Sylvia was a cheeky servant, but intelligent and loyal. She wasn't bad to look at either, and during Charlton's last visit, he came to suspect that the fetching lass might fancy him."
A romance novel, Miss Granger? And one that has all the signs of being at least somewhat naughty at that. Now, that's more like it.
A/N: Many thanks for reading, and for the kind comments. I'm sorry I have not been responding, but I am reading them, and they are cheering me up immensely. I've got a health issue I'm dealing with (no fun, but not dangerous at all) and it's been getting me down. But fear not, I will persevere!
Big thanks for everyone who has nominated my paranormal mystery, Wyrd House, on Kindle Scout. If you want to check it out, you can find it at Amazon[dot]Kindlescout[dot]com. Look under mysteries and you'll find me. It's a fun book that has magic and romance, so I think my readers will like it. If you nominate it, and it gets selected, you get a free advance copy of the ebook.
I'm working without a beta, so any mistakes are my own.