The next two hours pass very pleasantly. While it remains distressing to be unable to move other than a slight twitching of my fingers and a small ability to move my head, regaining my ability to speak is a great relief to me. Hermione shows me her notes on the elixir she has concocted for my cure, and we have a lively discussion about her findings and the positive results.
I can find no fault in her work. The discussion is interesting and challenges my mind in a way it hasn't been challenged since that damned snake bit me. I feel more myself and yet I feel changed as well. The anxious and driven man who fought a drawn out war seems very far away. My paralysis seems to have created some distance from those days of war. It seems like something that happened years ago.
I feel at once alien and more myself than I have felt in a brace of decades. So far, I like my post-war self. I can do whatever I want, including flirt with this kind young muggleborn woman at my side. For perhaps the first time in my life, I can do whatever the hell I want.
Hermione makes a slightly off-color joke about billywig stings, and I laugh as I haven't laughed in years. I can tell by her expression that she is shocked by my laughter, but she recovers quickly and joins right in.
When the laughter fades, I bring up a more serious subject. It is something I've been wondering for some time.
"Hermione, how are your parents? Have their memories been restored?"
"Oh, yes. I found them that first week after the last battle and reversed my memory charm."
"Have they returned?"
"No, actually, not yet. Now that they remember, they want a little time to get used to things before they move again."
The normally cheerful girl's voice holds a great deal of sadness. The meeting with her parents must not have been the happy experience she was expecting.
"Do your parents understand how much danger they were in from the war?" It seems ridiculous to me that Hermione's parents could hold any sort of grudge because of her sensible actions.
"I'm afraid not. I tried to explain, but I'm not certain how much they believed. You see, I always downplayed the danger when I spoke to them about the war at all. I didn't want them to worry, and I didn't want them to demand I leave the wizarding world."
"Would you have left if they expected it of you?"
"No. I'm a witch and I'm not giving that up for anyone. Not even my parents."
"Good. Hermione, your parents were on a list of those Voldemort wanted destroyed. Your actions saved their lives. You can find comfort in that face even if your parents don't fully understand."
There's moisture in her eyes, and she blinks it away before smiling at me. "Thanks for that. Anyway, they'll forgive me eventually. They always do."
"Give them a little time. To suddenly remember an entirely different life can be quite a shock to the psyche. Once they have a little time to adapt, they'll return to their real life."
"I think you are right. I had a phone call from them last week and they are beginning to talk about moving back."
Our conversation is interrupted by the sudden entrance of one of my mediwitches.
"Why Mr. Snape! How wonderful to see your eyes open!"
I close my eyes for a brief moment. I smell a slightly cloying mix of cherry and pineapple. I recognize the cheap perfume.
"Mediwitch Corianne, a pleasure to meet you. I thank you for your excellent caretaking."
I find that I mean it. Despite her horrid taste in toilette water, the woman has always spoken to me with respect and she has taken very good care of me while I was unable to take care of myself.
"Oh, you sweet man." There are tears in her eyes and she seems honestly touched by my partial recovery. "That horrible paralysis must finally be wearing off. I was worried about you, and that's a fact. I'll go get a healer to check on you right away."
She exits the room as quickly as she appeared.
"Er…Severus, it might be a good idea not to mention my involvement in your cure."
"I wasn't planning to. Your elixir borders on dark magic, as did my original antivenin. I much prefer to continue with my recovery. You being held for questioning by the Ministry would hardly allow that. I believe sticking to this idea that the paralysis is wearing off on its own is our best course of action."
"I should have known you would have considered the ramifications already. You really are very clever, Sir."
"I beg your pardon?"
"Sorry. You're very clever, Severus."
"Thank you. You are no slouch yourself, Hermione."
The Healer arrives and performs a battery of diagnostic spells. As the hospital is already aware of what potions I have been given--or so they think--no spells are voiced that would bring Hermione's meddling to light. Much fuss is made about my recovery, and it is decided that I can be allowed food and drink rather than nutritive potions.
The meal they bring me is simple. A little porridge, a soft cooked egg, and a small triangle of toast. Hermione waves away the help of a pretty orderly and feeds me herself.
I think things are going well on all counts.
After the bland meal, Hermione reads to me for a bit and I fall asleep to the gentle sound of her voice.
When I wake, it's time for another dose of Hermione's elixir. We chat as we wait for the potion to take effect, and after around twenty minutes, I discover that I can move my fingers and toes freely. My ankles and wrists are also responsive, though my arms and legs are not yet under my control.
"Hermione, I truly do not know how to express my gratitude." My voice comes out a bit gravelly with emotion and I find that I do not care. I have no reason to hide my feelings anymore. I am no longer a spy and no one is spying on me.
"There's no need. I wanted to help. We lost so many people in the war…I couldn't stand to lose anyone else. I didn't want to lose you too."
"I am very happy not to be lost. My first week in this bed was grim indeed. Then you arrived. While my state was still depressing, you made it better. You made it bearable. Now, you've given me back my sight, my voice, and my hands. Even if this cure goes no further, I cannot thank you enough."
"None of that, Severus. I have every reason to believe we'll have you walking in a few days."
"You've shown me your research and the results of your trials. I imagine you are correct."
The pretty mediwitch comes in with a tray. I must have slept longer than I thought. Once again Hermione shoos the woman away and takes charge of my meal. This time I have a rather bland piece of baked fish, some mashed potatoes, and some boiled turnip. I forgive the hospital for the boring and monotone meal because they have included a single cup of weak but acceptable tea.
Shortly after the meal, I realize I have a new issue.
"Hermione, perhaps you would be so good as to fetch the mediwitch for me."
Her brow furrows. It's clear she doesn't like that idea. Good.
"Why? Do you need something? Can I help you?"
"I need to take a piss, Hermione. While I'm certain you could handle the matter, perhaps you would be more comfortable…"
She flees the room before I've finished the sentence. She blushed too, when I mentioned her handling the problem. Perhaps she was envisioning it. Between this reaction and the way she keeps scowling at my pretty mediwitch and shooing her away, I believe I am doing quite well.
Slytherins are quite good at getting what they want. Of all the houses, we seem to understand human nature the most. There were professors at Hogwarts who thought that Hermione should have been sorted into Ravenclaw, but I disagree. Intelligent people who have a thirst for knowledge can be found in all the houses, they don't all get crammed into Ravenclaw. Hermione, with her propensity for taking in strays and her eagerness to leap into the fray and buck the system if she thinks it's wrong is pure Gryffindor.
I can't play Slytherin mind games with Hermione and get anywhere. A direct approach will be my best chance by far.
After the mediwich leaves my room, Hermione slinks back in still looking a bit uncomfortable. She puts a brave face on things and attempts to act normally, but it's clear she remains a bit flustered and embarrassed.
I wonder if the thought of me urinating has caused this reaction, or if the young woman is having naughty thoughts about her former professor?
We speak for some time about her plans for the coming year. She has decided to put employment plans on hold, and finish her schooling when Hogwarts is back in business. While her war hero status would get her any number of jobs, returning to school is the only way she can sit her NEWTS. She's a sensible young woman. I admire her desire to finish school and not rely on her Order of merlin alone to open doors.
While we are talking, she touches me occasionally. A gentle hand on my shoulder or arm when she is making a point. Fingers across my brow as she brushes the hair from my face.
There's no doubt about it. She had naughty thoughts about her professor.
Good. Now that I've survived the war and I'm ready to begin the rest of my life, I find that I'm in a hurry to begin the rest of my life. A direct approach is certainly the way to go. Thank goodness for Gryffindors. One never has to worry how they feel about you. They always make it perfectly clear.
As soon as I can move a little better, I'll make a move that is direct and to the point. In the meantime…
"Hermione, I will sleep soon. You should go home and get some rest in something other than my bedside chair."
"Why? I mean…you need regular doses of the potion…and I should watch for side effects…but perhaps you are tired of me hovering around…"
"Hermione, hush." The poor girl is babbling. "I think it's clear that I am experiencing no adverse side effects whatsoever. However, I am thinking about your own needs and not my own. I'm becoming quite fond of having you hovering around, as you put it."
"Well then, I'm staying, and you can't do anything about it." A sharp nod of her head punctuated the statement. I'd rather stay here with you. I sneak into the mediwitch's lounge to shower when you are asleep, and I get food in the shop on the third floor. there's no reason at all for me to leave."
I certainly wasn't going to argue with her.
Hermione lowered my bed, tucked me in, and then leaned down to give me a chaste kiss on the cheek.
A/N: I'm working without a beta, so any mistakes are my own.
You know, I thought this story would be maybe four more chapters, but Severus and Hermione seem to be in a hurry, lol! I think a chapter or two will finish this story up. I've really enjoyed my return to the Potterverse, and the people who have read and commented brighten my day. It's nice to write something just for the pure fun of it again. I don't know if there will be another fic after this. I won't say I never will, mind you, but I have no plot bunny nipping at my heels and my non-fanfic writing takes much of my time. For now I'll say, we'll see.
The Kindle Scout campaign for my novel, Wyrd House is now over. Thanks to all who took the time to nominate it. Now, I'm waiting for news, and getting ready to start a campaign for Teatime of the Living Dead, which I'm super excited about. I also have a re-write of one book to do, and two WIPs to finish, as well as a mailing list to start. Busy, busy, busy! If you want to keep up with my writing, please visit me at my blog: Julianneqjohnson[dot]wordpress[dot]com.
Thanks for reading!