The Massage

BY : CryingCinderella
Category: Harry Potter > Het - Male/Female > Snape/Hermione
Dragon prints: 41488
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter nor do I make any money from writing these stories.


A/N: so this plot bunny struck after reading "Potions, Plans, and Second Chances," written by K Marie, who is incredibly talented. But her notion of giving an ailing patient a massage to help alleviate pain led me to this idea of someone needing the message to correct skeletal-muscular/neurological disorders of the like. And how much more difficult that might be when the one presenting the massage is your former student. Thanks for the inspiration, K.



 



 



            It started out with screaming. His nerves were already shot but the shrill sounds of students bickering at the top of their lungs was doing little to ease the tremors. Something was amiss. Even during the most painful of treatments Poppy Pomphrey prided herself on her ability to control the vocalizations of her charges. The sounds echoing from the corridor of the hospital wing could mean only one thing: Poppy Pomphrey, the resident Hogwarts Mediwitch, was not in residence. By the time he reached the door the shouting had subsided though he doubted it would remain quiet.



            Upon his entry to the hospital wing he paused just beyond the main door. The smell of the ward assaulted his nostrils but over the years he had grown accustomed to the acrid scent of sterile fumes mixed with sickness and various enchanted flowers. It wasn’t even the strangely dimming light, which he noted to mention to Filch at a later time, that caused his pause, but rather the sight displayed before his eyes just beyond the main entrance. His lips pursed into a frown, his brow furrowing as he stared at her. She was slightly slumped forward, perched on Poppy’s chair at the main desk, her eyes darting back and forth over reading material that he could not see.



            But when the door had slid shut behind him she paused her reading and glanced up in his general direction, a gentle smile gracing her lips. “Good evening, Professor Snape.” Her eyes were kind as she gazed upon the man, still adjusting internally to seeing him alive and moving about the castle as if nothing had happened. She noted, if a bit absently, that he stood with a slight slouch, which seemed odd for a man who projected his persona through such an intimidating posture. She kept her smile in place as she nodded at the man.



            He glared at the girl. It had been a few years since he had last seen her face, his return to teaching afforded him the comfortable restriction of social limitations, not that he would have had any reason to seek her out had he not been reinstated at Hogwarts. His frown creased his forehead, revealing wrinkles, quite a few more than he’d had when teaching the girl. The lines etched at the corners of his eyes seemed deeper as his frown twisted into a scowl. “Where is Madam Pomphrey?”



            The girl was cheery. She kept the warm smile on her lips despite his demeanor. She hadn’t really been slouching over the desk but she straightened her posture, making a point to fold her hands neatly in her lap as she held his gaze. “She has taken a sabbatical,” said Hermione. His gaze did not falter at her words and when he did not vocalize a response she spoke again. “A sabbatical is a professional leave of absence wherein—”



            “I know what a sabbatical is,” he interrupted. “There is no need to quote Oxford at me like I am Freddie First-Year. My knowledge of muggle vocabulary is more than proficient,” he spat. “What I cannot fathom, Miss Granger, is why you have been left the charge of babysitting the hospital wing? Where is the medical attending dispatched from St. Mungo’s?”



            Her smile withered. But she held his gaze and did her best to hold her tongue. It would do no good to go mouthing indignant responses at the man; she was no longer the trembling fourth-year so easily bristled by his callous remarks. Little had changed about the man before her, however. He was still the dour biting man she remembered from days in his tutelage. Though his face bore a few more wrinkles and the slightest hint of silver had graced his ebony tresses, the Severus Snape before her was no different than the man who had terrorized her as student, and no different than the man she had watched die some years ago in the Shrieking Shack.



            “I am the medical attending dispatched from St. Mungo’s, sir.” She said simply, her hands remaining in her lap. Once the fall of Voldemort had enabled her free-range of study, she’d chosen the medical field; a healer as a profession. It involved the combination of her favorite subjects from school; a careful balance of potion brewing, and charm casting. She had trained with top healers and was quite accomplished for a witch of her young age. There had been little debate when Poppy Pomphrey had visited Mungo’s earlier in the week requesting a leave of absence as to who her replacement would be, and Hermione had been overjoyed at the notion. She hadn’t once allowed the thought of Severus Snape to cross her mind until he crossed the threshold of her newly acquired domain.



            “Unacceptable,” he stated. But before Hermione was able to question or refute his claim the man had turned in a dramatic billow of robes and stalked out of the medical wing. She sighed and slowly let her posture deflate. Whatever it was that he had come to the medical wing for was beyond her realm of thought for at the moment she found her mind preoccupied with his dismissal of her. She scolded herself for thinking on it. The notion that after all these years she still so desperately needed his approval for a position which she had already received based on her merit and hard work.



            It was disheartening that after her second day she was already having a problem and that problem was a head figure of the staff. A frown crossed her lips though she allowed it only a moment to linger before returning her attentions to her reading, but even that attempt was futile. The nerve of the man to stalk into the hospital wing and judge her without having any knowledge of her abilities. This led her to further question his purpose for seeking out the medical wing in the first place. The man had not appeared injured, at least not so terribly that it caused him any outward show of trauma or pain. Though perhaps his slight slouch in posture was indicative of an internal problem. She turned the thought over in her mind. Surely whatever was ailing him he was an accomplished brewer enough to concoct the appropriate remedy, for had it been something more serious surely he would have requested treatment despite his displeasure with her presence? Again the frown returned to her lips. Perhaps he had come to check on a patient, though it seemed uncharacteristically likely for the man to be concerned more than would be normal over any student. She glanced over the student patient roster. There were no Slytherins in house so she concluded he had not come to check on a patient.



            The more she thought on the matter the more baffled she became though the baffling notion was constantly overridden by the thought of his casual dismissal. With a heavy sigh Hermione closed her copy of Potions Quarterly and picked up the clipboard from the Mediwitch desk. It wouldn’t hurt to start evening rounds on her patients a little early. If nothing else it would provide a suitable distraction for her mind, at least for a little while.



~*~



            “Unacceptable!” he snapped, slamming his hand down against the edge of the hardwood desk in the Headmistress’s office.



            “Severus! There is no need to shout, I am sitting right here,” Minerva shouted and then shook her head, annoyed that she had raised her voice in turn to match his volume. “She is what Mungo’s sent, so she is what we have.”



            Severus sneered. “She is inexperienced at best; she will not be capable of many of the skills required by the school Mediwitch—”



            “Severus!” she raised her hand to quiet his attack on the newly appointed Mediwitch. “This is only a temporary situation, and I am sure that Hermione Granger is more than suited to the position. She has been studying with the healers for nearly six years now—”



            “A novice at best!” he spat.



            “Six years is more than enough time to comprehend the basics and much more of the trade, Severus, and I am confident that Poppy would not just allow them to send anyone—”



            “Why exactly did you approve this leave?” he tapped his fingers against the desk and narrowed his eyes at the woman who sat across the desk from him.



            “Severus, that is personal information, besides the woman is entitled to leave,” she said. “Now, if you’ve quite finished your tirade I have—”



            “I have quite not finished, Minerva,” he spat. “I demand as a member of the faculty that we receive a suitable replacement for Granger immediately. One with more experience and a skill level comparable to Poppy’s.”



            “You are being ridiculous,” she snipped and crossed her arms over her chest. “What on earth could you possibly need that Hermione Granger could not provide?”



            Severus narrowed his eyes further, his scowl forming into a tight grimace as he slowly raised his hand from her desk. The tremble was visible, almost violent, as he attempted to hold his hand steady. “I cannot very well do it myself in this state. Poppy has always taken care of the application and procedure, and I will not having that know-it-all novice butchering the procedure in her inexperience.”



            Minerva’s eyes practically bulged from her head and then she covered her mouth politely trying to disguise her laugh. But her attempt was a failure and within a moment she had burst into a fit of guffaws. This served to enrage the potion’s master, and again he slammed his fist against the desk, the vein in his neck throbbing and pulsing through his pale sallow skin. “Stop slamming your fist down, Severus, you’re likely to damage my desk,” she snorted.



            “This is not a laughing matter, Minerva!”



            “Oh, come off it, Severus. It’s a simple massage. I’m sure the girl is more than capable,” she said finally managing to control her laughter.



            “If it’s so simple then perhaps you would care to administer the salve?” he sneered. It halted her laughter and Minerva drew in a soft breath. She held his gaze for a moment before slowly sliding her spectacles from her nose, holding them as if to polish the lens. She averted her gaze to her lenses and rubbed them with the edge of her velvet sleeve; the red fabric obscuring the lens from view for a moment. She slid her spectacles slowly back onto her face before addressing him once more.



            “I have neither the training nor the desire to be your personal masseuse, Severus.” She said in a somber tone.



            “That being my point, Minerva. Neither has she. It took Poppy years to learn—”



            “Severus, this is who we have, and if your tremors are that bad you’re going to have to suck it up and have her administer your treatment,” she said.



            He did not wait for further prattling from the Headmistress. He rose from his seat, hands balled tightly into firsts at his side and stalked from her office, taking the spiraling stairs two at a time as he descended through the castle making his way toward his personal chambers. Of all the witches in the world he was to be saddled with Hermione Granger, the know-it-all Gryffindor brat who had remained a thorn in his side right through to his death. He scowled as he stalked the corridors. His arms he could rub himself, of that much he was certain as he found it a tiresome and somewhat embarrassing task to seek out Poppy once a week for a full body rub with the salve. And most of his legs he could manage. But his back would be a problem. He growled at a group of students standing idly by and deducted points for loitering before he disappeared into the dark corridors of the dungeons.



            Hermione was still adjusting to her position at the Head Table during meals. It was only her third breakfast and it seemed strange to be seeing things from the other side. The house tables seemed so much smaller from the platform, and the students seemed so much tinier. She found it difficult to believe that she and her friends had ever been that tiny or that rowdy at meal times. So far she was getting on well with the staff, no major problems, except for her encounter with Severus Snape in the hospital wing the night previous. But she allowed it to escape her mind overnight and started her morning fresh. Until she noticed him arrive at the breakfast table.



            Again he carried the slightest of slouches in his posture and this time she noticed, as he stabbed violently at the steak on his plate, the slightest tremor in his left hand. She frowned and glanced down the table at Hagrid who was waving his morning greeting, and she smiled, waving back, thankful to not have been caught staring at Severus Snape. But the tremor in his hand combined with the slight slouch to his usually perfect posture started her mind twirling and before she was halfway through her coffee the gears in her brain were cranking at full capacity. Her appetite was gone and she found it difficult to force the food down her throat, and so with cheery farewells she dismissed herself from the breakfast table, avoiding the man in question as she went, and headed out of the Great Hall. A quick stop at the library was in order before she settled into her morning routine in the hospital wing.



            She hadn’t had time to properly peruse the medical text she’d borrowed from Irma Pince upon her arrival to the hospital wing; Alison Finnegan had been admitted after a bat-bogey hex had backfired upon her. It had been a simple enough fix, but she wanted to keep the girl at least until the afternoon to assure that none of the pustules flared up. And Hermione felt sorry for the girl; she wasn’t a terribly popular fourth year and to have such an embarrassing mishap while trying to defend one’s self must have been dreadful. She noted that for observation purposes the girl was granted permission to miss the remainder of the day’s classes.



            But after all of her morning patients were tended to; there were only four, the Finnegan girl included, as she had discharged several of them before breakfast; Hermione found time to scour the medical text. Her conclusions were as she had suspected. And upon reading further about the condition that she suspected the dour man to have, her face drained of color. It explained his attitude upon discovering her to be the attending responsible for the Medical Wing of Hogwarts. She swallowed hard and reread the page she’d been reading for the umpteenth time. It was not a difficult procedure, she was even quite certain that she could brew the salve herself, though after checking Poppy’s store room she found it in plentiful supply. She had never performed it on a person, though it had been part of her healer’s examination. With trepidation she was unaccustomed to, Hermione closed the medical text and sighed. It was going to be difficult to convince the man that she was indeed adept and skilled enough to accomplish the procedure.



            She waited until classes had been dismissed for the day and then thought better of it and decided to wait until after dinner. The thought of broaching the subject at diner had crossed her mind, but it would mean engaging the man in conversation and switching seats with Flitwick. So she resigned to the notion of waiting until after dinner. The evening meal came and went without event, except for the noted absence of one Severus Snape. She frowned. Was he avoiding her? Though she had heard from idle conversations with Minerva that it was not uncommon for staff members not to attend every meal. This threw a mental wrench into the workings of her thoughts. If he had not attended dinner perhaps he was otherwise engaged for the evening? Or more likely as she suspected, his condition was deteriorating and he was limiting his movements to conserve energy.



            Assuming the latter at the risk of making an arse out of herself she left dinner as the students dwindled down and headed off to their respective houses. She hadn’t thought to ask the whereabouts of his chambers, though she assumed his office had not relocated since her days as a student in the castle. Professors and varying faculty members were lodged according to their subject taught or their position in the castle. She had been lodged accordingly, just opposite the Medical Wing. It took her quite some time to find her way down to the dungeons for while the location of his office may not have changed, the staircases and varying pathways down there certainly had.



            She stood in front of his office door for nearly twenty minutes, pacing back and forth trying to decide on how exactly to word what she intended to say. Every time she thought she had picked out the precise wording, she ran it through her head and found some snide and scathing remark that she figured he would throw back at her and so she started all over again, trying to find the exact phrasing that would allow for minimal sarcastic retorts. When she finally raised her knuckles to rap against the wooden door it flew open. She was startled and jumped back but managed to remain silent.



            “Miss Granger,” he spat. She noted that he leaned slightly against the frame of the doorway as he growled down at her. “You have been pacing outside my office for some twenty minutes now, the sound of your incessant internal monologue and clacking shoes is driving me to madness, either present yourself and your no doubt asinine monstrosity of questions or take your leave so that I may retire to my chambers in peace for the evening.”



            She could feel the angry sting pricking behind her eyeballs but she refused to crumble in front of the man before her. She had grown up. His venomous tongue would no longer inflict mortal wounds to her character no matter how hard he tried. She was no longer the simpering ninny of a fourth-year student that she had once been. With a composed breath Hermione nodded toward the doorframe. “I do not wish to discuss my business with you out in the corridor, I would have expected a more professional courtesy from a fellow staff member,” she said with great calm in her tone.



            Severus Snape sneered at her. He stepped back and she half-expected the door to be slammed shut in her face, but when he stepped into his office and drew back his arm, she nodded curtly and stepped inside. He closed the door behind her and was quick to retreat to his seat behind the large mahogany desk. Hermione noticed the tremble in his hands and a more pronounced slump in his posture as he leaned back against the chair. “What do you want, Miss Granger?” he snapped.



            “Sir,” she said and stepped toward his desk. There was no second chair in which to take a seat so she stood in front of his desk, meeting his gaze. She could feel her heart racing; although she would no longer allow the man to reduce her to a sniveling pile of blubbering mess, it did not mean the man did not still instill fear within her. And at that moment she was very afraid that her words would cause a surge of rage to burst forth from the bitter man. She licked her lips absently, her mouth feeling dry as she cleared her throat. “I have read up on what I believe to be your condition, a Neurological-muscular-skeletal disorder caused from prolonged exposure to the Cruciatus curse, and I wish you to know that I am more than capable of administering the treatment noted in your patient file that has been previously administered by Madam Pomphrey.”



            He stared for a long moment after she stopped speaking. Hermione was uncertain as to what to make of it. At least he hadn’t started shouted and thrown her out of the office. But his silence was equally as unnerving. His eyes were a fathomless black that glittered in the candle-light of the room, relaying nothing as she held his gaze. She would not look away no matter how his eyes appeared to burn into hers. He would not intimidate her. Hermione waited for him to respond.



            At last he spoke, steepling his hands together in front of his chin before leaning slightly forward and resting his elbows on the edge of his desk. “Why do you find it necessary to plague me with your presence? If I required your assistance I would seek it out.” He said simply. His voice was not raised, his tone was level and even, but dismissive all the same.



            Hermione pursed her lips with a retort poised on her tongue but she thought better of it. At least he hadn’t succeeded in reducing her to tears. She held his gaze a moment longer and then nodded. “I simply wished to make it known, in case you were likely to believe me incapable, sir.” She said.



            “If you think I am likely to believe you are incapable, Miss Granger, then you yourself must believe that you are incapable, lest I would have no reason to believe such,” he said. Before she could defend her words he waved his hand toward the door. “If you are quite finished I have grading to attend to before my evening rounds,” he said and lowered his gaze to a stack of parchment that appeared in the center of his desk.



            Again she had been dismissed. Hermione turned quickly and left his office. She was careful not to stomp up the corridor that lead from the dungeon because she would not give the man the satisfaction of her tantrum. She waited until she had retired to the safety of her chambers some two hours later after completing evening rounds with her patients before she let out a frustrated wail. The man was impossible. She flopped back onto the large four-poster bed. What did it matter? If he refused treatment she wouldn’t have to see him and there would be no further dismissals and no chance for ridicule. It would suit her just fine if he stayed away and kept his disapproving thoughts of her capabilities to himself. With weary thoughts fighting her conscious mind she gave in and succumbed to long needed slumber.



            But over the next few days Hermione noticed less and less of the man. He was not seen at meals and had missed the Thursday afternoon staff meeting. And by Friday morning rumors that he had taken to using a cane to move about his classroom had begun circulating around the castle. It wasn’t until Michael Fletcher ended up in the hospital wing late Friday evening that she believed the rumors.



            “He what?” she asked, tending to the large bruise across the back of the boy’s legs.



            “I don’t know, Miss Granger, I was walking one minute, he was grumbling a house point deduction and then I was being whacked from behind. I swear ever since he started hobbling on that cane he’s been abusing us more and more!”



            The boy’s story was enough to convince her that things had gone on long enough. After applying salves and a few spells to the boy’s injuries she dismissed him back to Ravenclaw tower and checked in with her patients. Certain that they were settled for the evening she stepped into the Mediwitch office and opened up the floo connection, sticking her head into the green flames and emerging in the Headmistress’s Office. “Minerva?” she asked.



            “Oh, Hermione, dear, something the matter?”



            “I need a word if you have a moment,” she said.



~*~



            The summons had been abrupt. He grumbled that the woman had sealed off the floo connection before he could step through into her office; walking all the way up from the dungeons to her office in the east wing was going to be torture. Even with his weight supported by the cane the tremors and spasms were terrorizing his body. The pain had gotten worse and he could no longer control the shaking in his muscles. He’d done his best to apply the cream to his arms and legs but without its essence at the root of the problem; without the medicine reaching his spine and nerve tendrils of his back, Severus was a lost cause. He grumbled as he hobbled through the castle, making his way to Minerva McGonagall’s office.



            As he struggled to open the door he sneered as he stepped inside. Minerva stood pacing by the fireplace, Hermione Granger seated in a cushioned chair near the hearth. “Ah, Severus,” Minerva said, momentarily stilling her steps as she acknowledged the man. “Please come in.”



            He longed to hesitate, to ignore her invitation but logically he presumed that he would only be prolonging the inevitable. With tremulous steps leaning heavily on his black cane he entered the office. The heavy stone door slid shut behind him and he stood, waiting further instruction from the woman before him. Hermione Granger did not look at him, did not acknowledge him; she kept her eyes trained on her hands which were resting in her lap and he scowled; the little chit was behind whatever reprimandations he was about to receive.



            “Severus, it has been brought to my attention that you are no longer fit for duty as a professor,” Minerva said.



            “I beg your pardon?” he snapped and limped closer to where Minerva stood.



            “Abusing students, Severus?” she snapped, crossing her arms over her chest as she turned to face him. She had planned to remain calm and address the incident in a mild manner before insisting that he comply with her orders to receive treatment. But old habits die hard and as a bleeding heart toward student welfare she lost her composure and began ranting at the man before her. “You’ve lost your mind. Lashing out at a student and with a cane no less! All because you are a ridiculous fool who refuses to seek the treatment you need based on some preposterous preconceived notion that this perfectly capable healer will be unfit for the job at hand!”



            “I am not abusing students,” he hissed.



            “Michael Fletcher reported to Hermione Granger this evening in the hospital wing with a cane-shaped bruise across the back of his legs!” the Headmistress’s voice was shrill as she practically shrieked at him.



            “It could have been anyone’s cane,” he said, trying to hold his calm, keeping his own voice in check. He chanced a glance at Hermione Granger though her gaze remained focused on her lap.



            “Enough, Severus, I will not allow this foolishness to continue. You are endangering yourself and my students and enough is enough.” She said. “You will take the required treatment from Miss Granger and be done with it.”



            Severus glared at the woman. She couldn’t be serious. It had been bad enough having to endure the treatment at Poppy Pomphrey’s hand but at least she had been experienced. There was nothing more degrading and embarrassing than having to strip naked to have one’s feeble deteriorating body rubbed all over with a salve to regenerate one’s nerves. Poppy had at least afforded him the comfort of modesty never speaking about it or mentioning it, and she was professional, applying the treatment as quickly but thoroughly as possible. The Granger girl would not do as a replacement. “That know-it-all girl is not suited for—”



            “As you are unsuited for your duties it is in your contractual obligation to take the steps necessary to correct your condition. As Headmistress, I am ordering you obtain treatment from the faculty Mediwitch the position of which at present is being occupied by Hermione Granger.”



            “Minerva—”



            “Severus, my decision is final. You will receive your treatment as if Poppy had never taken sabbatical and that is final.” Before he could protest further she waved her arms at him. “Immediately, if Miss Granger is available, now go.”



            Upon hearing her name, Hermione glanced up from her lap. She slowly drew her attention to Severus Snape, and was met with a glare so fierce that had looks possessed the ability to kill she surely would have fallen down dead. With a slight nod of her head she rose from the cushioned chair near the hearth and took deliberate but slow steps toward him. “I have cleared a private room, and will await your arrival, my patients are tended to for the evening,” she said and without another word she departed the Headmistress’s office.



            “You heard her, and you heard me,” Minerva snapped. “Now go and get your treatment because so help me, Severus, if I hear of one more incident involving you and that cane I am going to administer a treatment of my own that I promise you will not enjoy.” She pointed toward her door and then crossed her arms over her chest. “Now!” she barked, and waited until the man had left her office before collapsing back into her chair. 



 



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