This story is based on my own random medical experience in December which was, sadly, Snape-less. I started writing it when I was confined to my little flat and thought it would be fun to turn the whole thing into a fanfic! Reviews make me happy :)
RIP Alan Rickman :'(
Hermione woke up two hours before her alarm and knew instantly that something was wrong. It was still dark outside. Her jaw felt strange and her mouth was bone dry. She reached up to feel her face before running to the mirror in her bathroom.
"Fuck" she gasped as she saw her shocked reflection looking back at her. The bottom half of her face was swollen like never before, her cheeks were puffed out and she had a double chin. Her face was puffy – Dolores Umbridge puffy. Hermione pinched herself to make sure she wasn't dreaming before looking at herself again and poking at her inflated cheek. "Fuck" she said again.
Two hours to go before her local doctor's surgery opened. Hermione went back to bed and tried to fall asleep again before giving it up as a lost cause. What the hell was wrong with her? One didn't simply wake up in the morning looking like a blowfish!
She got up and wandered into her small kitchen wearing nothing but her night t-shirt. While making herself a morning cup of strong coffee, Hermione couldn't stop poking at her face. Her tonsils were thick and swollen, her parotid glands were hard ridges starting beneath her ears. Well, that would explain her dry mouth! There goes work for the day... no way was she going into the university looking like she was.
Eventually she got dressed and ready to go to the doctors. She wrapped her scarf around the lower half of her face to avoid intrusive stares and swiftly walked the short distance to the surgery.
When the receptionist saw her, she couldn't help but gape. "I'm sorry, I don't have an appointment. But I woke up this morning looking like this – do you think a doctor can see me anyway?" Hermione asked, blushing at the receptionist's blatant staring.
The receptionist shook herself out of her surprise and resumed her professional facade. Soon Hermione was seated in one of the consulting rooms, gratified that she didn't have to wait in the waiting room with the other patients in case she was contagious. Well at least looking like this has some benefits, she thought. And then another benefit walked in through the door. A tall, slim doctor with sandy hair and piercing blue-green eyes approached her and smiled from under his long eyelashes.
"What seems to be the problem, Miss Granger?" he asked, smiling at her kindly.
She waved at her face and responded, "I don't usually look like this. My face is normally much smaller."
"I see," the beautiful doctor said. "Do you mind if I feel your face?"
Hermione blushed and nodded her agreement. He took her face between his warm dry hands and prodded around her chin and cheeks. "Have you been vaccinated against mumps?" he asked. "Your swelling is a textbook symptom of the virus."
"Well, yes. I received the standard MMR vaccination as a child." Hermione replied. "Both of them."
"How strange, Miss Granger!" The doctor seemed surprised. "I can't think of anything else it would be. Your tonsils look fine, so you don't have tonsillitis, and if you had a parotid gland infection, the swelling wouldn't be spread so regularly. Do you have a temperature?" Hermione shook her head.
"We're going to have to do some tests, if you will follow me into the next room, we can start with an ultrasound of your face". Hermione gathered her stuff and followed the doctor into the next room, unsure whether to feel bemused or concerned at the fact that her case seemed so unusual. And she was going to have an ultrasound scan. She had thought that was only done for pregnant women.
But when she entered the next room, it wasn't empty. Hermione stopped in her tracks, shocked.
"Ah," the doctor said, "here is our student helper, Mr. Snape. You don't mind if he observes the procedure, do you?"
Hermione was still gaping at her old professor, shocked at seeing him in her local muggle doctor's surgery wearing a white overall. He held her gaze politely, but there was no spark of recognition in his eyes. "Miss?" the doctor said again, startling her out of her surprise.
"Erm, yes, sure," Hermione murmured, walking towards the bed covered with a long sheet of paper. What was he doing here? Why hadn't he recognised her? She lay down in a daze and jumped when the doctor smeared something cold on her cheek and chin.
"Nothing to worry about," he said, "this is just the gel for the ultrasound." And then Hermione remembered why she was there in the first place. Her face was grotesquely swollen, no wonder Snape didn't recognise her when he wasn't expecting her! And the doctor hadn't said her name since they had entered the new room.
Hermione was so lost in her thoughts that she hardly noticed the pressure on her face as the doctor moved the handheld device around her cheek. "Please turn your face to the other side, Miss Granger," the doctor said, and Hermione turned her head to rest it on the other cheek, facing the screen showing the ultrasound image, as well as her old professor.
The latter had frozen in shock at hearing the doctor speak her name. Hermione uncharacteristically didn't spare the screen a glance as her gaze locked with Snape's. He recognised her now, a deep crease had pulled between his eyebrows, and he held himself stiffly, as if self-conscious. He looked different, Hermione noted. Better. He was tall and slim as ever, but despite his sudden stiffness, there was something more approachable in the way he held himself. His face also looked younger, less strained, less closed. His long black hair was clean and tied back in a way which highlighted the bold, attractive lines of his face.
Hermione had always found her potions professor attractive, in a distant, unattainable kind of way. As she looked at him now, that attraction shifted and she felt a tight knot in the bottom of her belly pull together in what she recognised as desire. The feeling shocked her out of her appraisal – how long had it been since she had felt physical desire for someone?
And then consciousness of her surroundings and situation flooded back to her and Hermione clenched her eyes shut as embarrassment flooded through her. She looked like a blowfish. There was some kind of gel smeared all over her face. There was something wrong with her, but even the doctor didn't know what.
Hermione fervently wished she had met Snape in different circumstances. In circumstances in which she could have met him as an equal. Not barely recognisable and lying on her back.
"Miss Granger came in today with her face swollen, and we're trying to work out why, Mr. Snape," the doctor started to explain to his mature student visiting for work experience. "She's been vaccinated against mumps, and this scan doesn't show any unusual lymphs – there are only a couple around her tonsils. Her parotid glands are clearly swollen, yet apparently not infected."
Snape cleared his throat. "No prior illness or conditions? Is she on any medication?"
"No," Hermione replied for herself, disliking being referred to in the third person when she was present. She looked at Snape again. "And apart from the swelling, I feel fine now as well. Healthy as a horse, as they say." Snape's eyes seemed to spark when their eyes connected again, and his posture seemed to relax, as if realising that she wasn't there to ambush him.
"It really is very strange," the doctor said, intruding on their connection. "I think we should take a blood sample and then Mr. Snape, you can give her an ECG test."
"Oh, I don't think I'm ready -" Snape tried to refuse but the doctor interrupted him.
"-nonsense, you're more than ready to do it alone, you've done it plenty of times!" It was clear the doctor had made up his mind.
Hermione was sent to the nurse to have a blood sample taken. She had always disliked needles and determinedly looked away as the nurse quickly and efficiently executed her task.
And then she was pointed towards a bed in the corner of the room. When she had sat down, Snape joined her and drew the curtains surrounding the bed closed. He didn't look at her and instead fumbled at a machine which had a bunch of long grey plastic tubes hanging from it.
"Please lift up the back of your shirt, miss Granger," he said awkwardly, still not looking at her.
Hermione blushed and turned around, tugging up her top.
"A bit higher please," he said, and she lifted her shirt up above her bra strap, not knowing what to say in this more than surreal situation. She felt a pressure against her back and looked behind her to see Snape pressing a stethoscope against her. He looked decidedly uncomfortable as he listened to her heartbeat, his eyebrows drawn together and his eyes looking away from her.
He pulled the stethoscope away from her back and asked her to turn around. He then pressed the stethoscope against her chest, clearly making an effort not to graze her skin with his fingers.
He pulled away from her again and reached up to adjust something at the machine.
"Please take off your shirt and lie back please," he said, still looking at the machine. He held himself in a rigid pose and Hermione almost had to feel sorry for him.
She decided to make it a bit easier for him and said "no problem", before pulling her top over her head and lying down on her back, her hands resting on her hips. She felt exposed and uncomfortable but was determined not to show it. She also felt relieved that she had grabbed her pretty black lace bra when hurriedly getting dressed that morning.
Snape lifted one of the long grey tubes and took the electrode attached to the end of it. He moved further away from her and gently lifted the bottom of her trousers and attached the electrode to her ankle. Hermione felt a light suction as the electrode attached to her. He repeated the process and attached electrodes to her other ankle and to her hands which were still resting on her hips.
There were more to go, and the next ones were placed on the top of her chest. Snape seemed to pause, before taking the next one and placing it on the flesh of her breast at the top of her bra. Hermione was looking up at the ceiling and could only feel what he was doing. There was an unbearable tension in the room and she felt she had to break it, to acknowledge their previous relationship.
"So, Professor Snape, you're studying to be a doctor?" she asked, just before she felt another electrode being attached to her left breast, this time to the curve of her breast beneath the top of her bra. As that electrode tightened against her, she felt the previous one come off and heard Snape curse quietly.
He cleared his throat as he tried to attach the electrode again. "Yes, I am. Clearly." he replied gruffly, reaching for the next electrode after securing the other one again. She felt him at her breast once more, attaching the electrode to the bottom of her breast just above the underwire of her bra. His warm fingers brushed against her skin for the first time and she felt a frisson of electricity spark through her at the contact. The knot deep in her belly made its presence known again and she had to stop herself from gasping.
The other electrodes on her breast detached themselves again and Hermione knew what was coming next.
"Apologies, miss Granger, but I'm going to have to ask you to remove your bra." Snape's voice seemed tight, but Hermione couldn't look at him as she sat up, unhooked her bra and placed it on the seat next to her. She lay back and just looked at the ceiling, feeling that if she saw her own breasts it would make everything more real. She had never felt so exposed before, and she didn't even want to know how far her breasts were sagging towards her armpits. She had filled out since the war, her stomach was no longer flat and her breasts were heavy, much more subject to gravity than they used to be. At least she still had a waistline. But this was not how she would have wanted Snape to see her half naked for the first time, not in a doctor's surgery and certainly not with her face resembling that of a greedy hamster.
She could feel Snape begin to reattach the electrodes to the side of her breast and decided she needed to distract herself from what was going on. "I haven't seen you since we all left Hogwarts", she said, not wanting to refer to the war. "How have you been?"
"Adequate." Snape answered shortly, and Hermione couldn't help but look away from the ceiling and at him. The line between his eyebrows had deepened even further and there were two pink spots high up on his cheeks. He was certainly not unaffected by the situation. As he attached another electrode to her breast, she could feel his hand trembling slightly. Definitely affected.
"I'm glad to see you again, Professor," Hermione continued, not willing to descend back into uncomfortable silence. "You're looking well, it's good to know that you are doing alright."
His eyes snapped to hers and he seemed confused. He didn't respond.
"To be honest, I haven't seen much of people from the magical world in the last years," Hermione continued, ignoring his silence. "After things ended, I found I didn't really belong there. I would have gone to St. Mungo's today, I'm sure diagnosis would have been quicker, but I really don't want to suddenly reappear again, not unless I really have to."
Snape had finished attaching the electrodes by this point and had pressed a button on the machine, beginning to measure the electrical activity of Hermione's heart. He wasn't looking at her any more but it was clear that he was listening to her.
A thought occurred to Hermione: "why don't you just quickly cast a diagnosis spell for me? Surely that would be much quicker than all this?"
Snape's eyes flicked to hers again, before he looked back at the machine. He cleared his throat again, which Hermione perceived as a sign of nervousness or discomfort – he had clearly lost his ability to completely hide everything he was feeling.
"I was unfortunate enough to lose my magic, Miss Granger" he said, before pressing another button on the machine in practised calmness. "That's that done, I'll remove the electrodes and you can get dressed again."
Snape swiftly removed them from her body and Hermione quickly sat up to cover herself, trying to process what he had just told her. "But how?" she cried after a moment. "How did you lose your magic Professor?" Her back was still turned to him.
"I'm no longer your professor, Miss Granger" he said. "And I lost my magic when I was bitten. I suppose I was fortunate not to have lost more. But why didn't you cast a diagnosis spell yourself? Don't tell me you've forgotten such a simple spell," Snape sneered and for a moment his old self was back in the room.
Hermione turned around and regarded him with sad eyes. "I found removing myself from the magical world was too painful when I continued using my magic. I gave up using my wand. A clean break and all that."
They looked at each other for a moment, sharing a sense of mutual loss, brown eyes locked into his black depths. Now that the ECG ordeal was over, Snape seemed to relax somewhat. He still looked slightly uncomfortable, even confused, as he opened his mouth to say something to her...
But at that moment the doctor drew open the curtains and interrupted them. Hermione looked at him, surprised she had found him so attractive earlier. Yes, he was objectively very good looking, but he lacked depth, he lacked intensity. Hermione knew who she was comparing him to, and kicked herself for being so stupid. Nothing would come of it.
"Miss Granger," the doctor said. "I'm afraid we can't tell you what the cause of your swelling is. It is highly unusual I'm afraid, but please do call us tomorrow to find out if the results of the blood test revealed anything, and please come back in if anything changes."
That was Hermione's cue to leave. She didn't want to leave without speaking more to Snape, but somehow knew she couldn't reveal their past relationship to the doctor. She gathered her things, and gave Snape one last, hard look, and left the surgery.
She missed the look that almost spoke of despair which he shot at her departing back.
When she'd returned to the flat, Hermione immediately headed for the mirror. "Fuck" she said for the third time that day. She really did look like a blowfish.
For some reason she wasn't particularly bothered about what it was that had made her swell up like this. She was much more concerned that that was how Snape had seen her. Admittedly, he had not said very much to her, but she was captivated by him already. How he had changed! Before he'd found out who she was, he had seemed at ease with himself and in his environment. He looked healthy and even handsome in his long white coat, so very different from his billowing cloak, his defence mechanism against the rest of the world.
And his new choice of job was wondrous too. He had decided to become a doctor once he had been freed from his two overbearing masters. He had lost his magic, his place in the world he had known, and instead of retreating into himself and living as a hermit and outsider, he had trained as a doctor and had decided to devote himself to a life helping people. Again.
Hermione couldn't help a deep sense of admiration for the man rising within her. For all his outer facade of misanthropy and harshness, Snape was clearly a man who cared about helping others. And he was a man Hermione desperately wanted to know.
Her mind flashed back to how she had lain on that bed, her top half naked, her left breast covered in electrodes and her face swollen and puffy. And Snape had clearly been mortified. There was no way he would want to see her again.
Hermione spent the rest of the day trying to ignore the uncomfortable sensation in her face and trying to forget her experience at the doctor's that morning. She tried to get some research done from home, but found herself to be unusually unproductive. She was researching manuscripts from nunneries around the time of the Reformation in Europe and while she normally found the subject more than interesting enough to hold her attention for hours at a time, right now she was unable to lose herself in it.
She couldn't stop her mind from wandering to the man currently working in the doctor's surgery down the road from her.