Ok, this has been buzzing around my head since I finished Order of the Phoenix, which is unusual in its own, because me remembering any plot bunny that I come up with for longer than a day just doesn't happen all that often. But anyway, it takes place at the end of the fifth book, when Professor McGonagall comes back from St. Mungo's and is giving out all the points.
Disclaimer: I don't own this, JKR does. Bow before her genius, and marvel as I pale in comparison to her. : ) Most of it is right out of OotP, but I assure you, no copyright infringements are intended.
Rating: PG-13, just to be safe
Welcome Home by Laura Kay
Snape swept up from the dungeons in time to see Harry Potter—boy champion, once again—pull his wand on Draco Malfoy, who was, as always, flanked by the behemothic Crabbe and Goyle. The Gryffindor golden child had been even more full of himself since the battle, in Snape's opinion. And it was time to put a stop to that.
"Potter!" Snape barked gliding to the four students. Harry turned and glared, his eyes full of venomous enmity. "What are you doing, Potter?" Snape asked, unfazed by the boys stare.
"I'm trying to decide what curse to use on Malfoy, sir," Harry said matter-of-factly. The high and mighty Potter wit, thought Snape.
"Put that wand away at once. Ten points from Gryff— "He turned toward the hourglasses mounted on the wall, so that his back faced the front entrance, along with the arrival of Minerva McGonagall. His face curled into a smirk as he turned back towards the boys, as she made her way towards them. "Ah. I see there are no longer any points left in the Gryffindor hourglass to take away. In that case, Potter, we will simply have to—"
"Add some more?" McGonagall had reached the group, slightly out of breath and leaning heavily on a walking stick. Snape turned and just barely concealed his joy at seeing her.
"Professor McGonagall!" he said going forward, unconsciously moving to help her. "Out of St. Mungo's, I see!"
She stopped his moving forward with a glance, saying briskly, "Yes, Professor Snape, I'm quite as good as new." She began shrugging off her cloak, and Snape, though he wished again to move to help her, stayed put. "You two—Crabbe—Goyle—" She beckoned them imperiously and they shuffled forward awkwardly. Snape scowled at their movement; Slytherins should walk proudly. Though he knew that facing the Head of Gryffindor House was no small feat—even if they had done nothing wrong. "Here," McGonagall continued, pressing her traveling cloak and carpetbag into their arms. "Take these up to my office for me." They turned silently and complied with her request.
Turning back to Snape, the boys and the hourglasses, Professor McGonagall continued. "Right then, well, I think Potter and his friends ought to have fifty points apiece for alerting the world to the return of You-Know-Who! What say you, Professor Snape?"
She shot a half-smirk at Snape that the boys couldn't see. It seemed to throw him off. "What?" he snapped, and then quickly recovered himself. "Oh—well—I suppose…"
"So, that's fifty points each, " Professor McGonagall continued cheerfully, "for Potter, the two Weasleys, Longbottom, and Miss Granger." The shower of rubies that fell into the bottom bulb of the Gryffindor hourglass made Snape scowl, which mingled interestingly with the look of amazement he already wore. "Oh—" McGonagall continued, "and fifty for Miss Lovegood, I suppose." Sapphires fell in the Ravenclaw glass. "Now I believe you wanted to take ten from Mr. Potter, I think, Professor Snape—so there we are…" Her actions were hardly placating, but he found he wasn't really mad anyway. Just grateful she was back.
"Well," she went on, "Potter, Malfoy, I think you ought to be outside on a glorious day like this."
Harry made straight for the front door without looking back. Draco, however, stood in disbelief, staring from McGonagall to Snape and back again.
"A teacher gave you an order, Mr. Malfoy," Snape said coldly. Draco's disbelief increased at the command from his Head of House, but he quickly collected himself, and moved towards the front door as well. "And, Draco," Snape stopped his exit. "Stay away from Potter." Draco's jaw dropped, but he snapped it shut and nodded after Snape glared at him.
Snape watched Malfoy's retreat, and then turned back to Professor McGonagall, who was now standing at the foot of the steps, looking wearily up them. He walked to her side and mimicked her posture. "Well," he said softly.
"I'm torn," she said. Snape raised his eyebrows. Though she wasn't looking at him, she sensed the question he posed and answered it. "I may need help getting up six flights of stairs to my rooms, but the only person in the vicinity is a Slytherin. Not even a Slytherin. You."
"What is so special about me?" Snape asked, watching her out of the corner of his eye.
"If I were to admit to you that I require some assistance, I would either never hear the end of it, or I'd be mollycoddled into not getting out of bed for the next two months."
Severus smirked, knowing she was probably right. "Well, I just happen to be on my way upstairs, perhaps you might allow me to disgrace you with my presence as you journey to your rooms?"
Minerva turned to look at him, her eyes showing shining with a smile that her faced manage to suppress. "Well, I would consider that an exaggeration of what I said, but almost sweet, Severus, how very un-Slytherin of you."
He offered her his arm, which she took. "Ah, Minerva, you forget how charming we Slytherins can be. It's all a matter of confidence." She snorted.
They climbed slowly, but more to prolong the time they spent together than because of Minerva's condition. She actually didn't lean too heavily on Snape's arm, though he wouldn't admit that to her. If he did, he'd have no grounds to tell her rest and not work so hard, and he wasn't about to let that happen.
He saw her safely to her door, pausing only momentarily before walking into her rooms with her. Once the door was closed behind them, he turned to face her for the first time since they'd been alone. Sliding his arms around her waist, he pulled her close to him gently, but just looked at her, waiting for her to make the first move, which she did.
She reached one hand behind his neck and pulled his face closer to hers, pressing her lips to his. The kiss grew more passionate as Severus drew her even closer to him, tightening his arms around her waist. She winced into the kiss and Severus immediately drew back.
Apologetically, Minerva touched removed her hand from Severus's neck and touched her chest gently. "I don't think I'm quite ready for that," she said ruefully. Severus nodded, concern written on his face. Minerva scowled. "Don't look at me like that. I'm not helpless." Severus nodded again, deliberately showing his concern now, to get a reaction from her. Minerva scowled again and turned to walk towards her bedroom, leaning on her walking stick. Snape came up behind her and swept her off her feet into his arms, causing her to drop the stick in surprise and throw her arms around his neck instead.
"Put me down you great buffoon! I can walk by myself!" she yelled, laughing all the same.
"I know you can, but it occurs to me that I'd like you to recover as soon as possible if it means you can't do that."
Minerva laughed again, and Severus laid her gently on the bed, then sat next to her, placing one hand on either side of her. She smiled up at him, and he bent to kiss her again, more gently this time. He pulled back after a minute, and his eyes locked with hers. "I'm so glad you're back. I was worried abou—" Minerva raised her head to press her lips to his again, cutting him off.
"Don't worry about me," she said once she let her head fall back to the pillows. "I'm fine."
Severus couldn't help but raise an eyebrow at her denial, but he changed the subject and smiled softly. "So what do you think you are ready to do?"
Minerva sighed. "Not much besides a bath and a nap, I'm afraid. The healers told me to take things easy, and I don't think Poppy will let me disobey them. And I don't much have the energy to do a lot anyway." She punctuated the statement with a yawn.
Severus laughed softly. "Well, I can help you do one of those things." He got up and turned towards Minerva's bathroom. When he reached the door, he turned back to her, told her to wait where she was, and disappeared into the smaller room. Minerva sighed and lay back on the pillows, wondering what he could be up to.
Severus reappeared after a short time, a cloud of steam heralding him back into the bedroom. A curious amount of light was shining behind him, and Minerva struggled to sit up and see why her usually dim bathroom was flooded with light. Severus saw her wince as she moved and was at her side in a moment. He swept her up into his arms again, and again ignored her protests as he carried her into the bathroom.
Once they had left the bedroom, Minerva saw the reason for the extra light: the room suddenly had no walls, just floor to ceiling windows. Minerva pointed out the impracticality of having a see-through bathroom, but Severus corrected her.
"They aren't real windows. In case you hadn't noticed, your bathroom normally has rooms on most sides of it, while now each side is a window." He turned her to face the door and Minerva was shocked to see that her bedroom was the only dark spot on an otherwise brilliant blue wall of windows.
Glancing up, she saw that the ceiling was also windowed, sunlight flooding in. "I'm afraid I don't have the kind of power to simply enchant the room to look they sky," Snape said. "For that you'd have to resurrect a Founder, possibly all of them."
"Hmm, I think I'll stick to your arrangement," she said. "The Founders probably wouldn't kiss as well as you do." She pressed a quick kiss to his neck suggestively.
"Oh, I don't know. All Slytherins kiss fairly well. They have to get that from somewhere," he said as coolly as possible, trying not to show how much effect her lips were having on him.
Minerva raised her head to look him in the eye. "How many Slytherins have you kissed lately?"
Severus smirked. "Wouldn't you like to know? But I'll tell you this much," he said as she scowled at him, "All Slytherins kiss well, but some Gryffindors can kiss fairly well, too." He moved to kiss her, but she pulled away.
"That was less charming than your line in the entrance hall. Who've you been kissing?"
"No one, as of late," he said. "Not since the woman I prefer to kiss landed herself in St. Mungo's, scaring me half to death in the process." Minerva relented and lowered her lips to his.
Upon drawing back, she surveyed the room again. The bathtub, which had been a small, old-fashioned, claw-footed one, was now longer and wider. More suited for two people, Minerva noted silently. It was now built into the floor, so that the rim of it was just a few inches off the ground, and it was deep enough so that one could sit upright and still be immersed at least to mid-chest in water. It was filled with water now, hot water, judging by the steam coming off of it, and a layer of foamy bubbles covered the surface.
Severus set Minerva down gently, wrapped his arms around her waist, and stood behind her as she looked around the room. She was looking curiously at the windows again. "Why isn't the glass steamed up?"
It was fairly steamy in the room, enough to make their clothes stick slightly to their skin, but the windows were as clear as ever. "It's enchanted not to. Simple charm, like the one you use on your glasses when it's raining."
Minerva nodded, and turned to face him. She stood on tiptoe to peck his lips, and said "So, I recall you saying you'd help me with this?" She gestured around her. Snape nodded and reached for the buttons at the back of her robe.
After he helped her out of her robes, he reached for the bandages that crossed her chest, but she gasped and pulled away from him. "Minerva?"
"I just…" she started, but seemed to change her mind. "I'll do it."
Snape furrowed his brow, but didn't speak as she turned away from him. He closed the distance between them, but didn't try to touch the gauze of the bandages that wrapped around her torso like an extra shirt. Instead he reached for the pins in her hair, removing them slowly as she started to unwind the bandages. He carefully untwisted her bun, letting her ebony locks fall almost to her waist, hiding where the bandages crossed her back.
Minerva gasped slightly, having apparently touched an injury the wrong way. Severus put his hands over hers, stilling her movements. Moving her hands to her to sides, he took over undoing the bandages. She still refused to turn to face him, but didn't protest this time. Snape guessed that it was because her long hair was now hiding a good deal of her burns.
After all the bandages had been unwound, Minerva took a shaky step toward the bathtub. Severus moved closer to her, steadying her, but still not saying anything. He helped her into the tub, and then quickly undressed and joined her.
Minerva smiled at him after he'd settled back against the edge of the bathtub. She was sitting against the opposite wall, the water so deep only the tops of her shoulders were visible. "This really is wonderful, Severus," she said, gesturing around at the bathroom.
"Well I recalled someone saying that we ought to be enjoying this glorious day."
She smiled as she looked around the room. "It is simply beautiful," she said absentmindedly.
"It is," Severus said quietly, looking at her. The sunlight was catching in her eyes, making them sparkle, and her hair was fanning out behind her, floating on the water.
Severus leaned forward and caught her ankle. Pulling it, he caused her to slide forward a few inches. She laughed and pulled herself closer to him, so that she was kneeling in front of him. She draped her soapy arms around his neck and he pulled herself as close as he could without touching her wounded chest, and they kissed again, longer this time, and more slowly.
Minerva pulled back smiling and turned away from him so she could lean back against his chest. Severus was hesitant to put his arms around her, not wanting to hurt her, but Minerva settled one of his arms around her waist, resting hers on top of it, and clasped their free hands together, letting them rest on her thigh.
They talked for a while, about random things of little importance, neither wanting to bring up the attack at the Ministry of Magic. Minerva told him about the visitors she'd had at St. Mungo's. Her favorites had been the Weasley twins, who had arrived with a basket full of products from their new store. Minerva said she had been glad to see them one last time, but Severus had a hunch Minerva would be visiting Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes in the future.
Severus told Minerva about the happening since she'd been gone, and all the pranks the 'headmistress' had had to endure—for the short time she'd held the position after Minerva had left, and of her journey into the forest.
Severus brought out a vial containing a beige-colored liquid. Minerva eyed it suspiciously as he poured some of it into his hands, and jolted away from him as he made to put it in her hair. "What exactly is that, and what makes you think I'm going to let you put it in my hair?"
Severus rolled his eyes. "It's shampoo." He held his hands toward her. The potion smelled of cherries and almonds. She quirked an eyebrow at him. "Since when does the greasy git of a Potions Master brew shampoos?"
"Since he knows the shrew of a woman he's dating hates using hospital shampoo and soaps."
Minerva smiled and kissed him soundly, before turning to lean against him again, letting him work the shampoo into her hair. "Your students might be a little worried. You're going to smell like cherries for the rest of the day." Severus pushed her underwater.
After a long time of sitting in the sunlit bathroom, their fingers and toes were raisin-like, all the bubbles had all melted down, and the water was lukewarm. Minerva yawned and stretched.
"Ok, kitty, I think it's time for that nap," Severus said.
"Don't call me kitty," Minerva scowled, but she allowed Severus to help stand up anyway.
"Don't act like a cat then," he said simply, climbing out of the tub. He wrapped a towel around his waist, and, grabbing another towel for Minerva, he turned back to her. She was standing in the water, leaning against the side of the bathtub. Her black hair was even darker than normal and was spread across her chest, arms and stomach, so that he couldn't see much of her skin. Her lips and cheeks were tinged pink, and her eyes danced in the—now early-evening—sunlight. She looked divine, like a raven-haired Aphrodite. Except she was shivering, and looking at Severus with an amused look in her dark eyes.
He smiled and wrapped the towel around her before picking her up and carrying her into the bedroom. She was too tired to even protest this time. She let him brush her long hair and cast a drying spell on it.
When he was finished, he kissed her cheek, startling her; she'd almost fallen asleep. He helped her to the bed. "Now, do you have any more bandages?"
Her eyes opened wide. "Oh! You don't have to—I can do it—"
"No you can't Minerva. I've had enough serious injuries to know that you need help." Minerva shook her head looking panicked. Severus sat down next to her and took her hand. "Minerva what is wrong?"
Minerva bit her lip and mumbled something under her breath. Severus raised an eyebrow. "I don't want you to see them," she said quietly.
Severus almost laughed. "Why on earth not?"
"Because you'll just think I'm injured and helpless, and I… I'm embarrassed…"
"I let myself be attacked. I wasn't prepared, I let her win. The burns are proof." She kept her eyes on her bedspread.
Severus cradled her chin with his hand and brought her lips to his, kissing her deeply. "Minerva there is no shame in anything that happened to you. At least there's no shame for you. The hag should be ashamed, attacking you like that. I assure you, all the Hogwarts staff is campaigning to have her arrested for that. But what other choice did she have?" Minerva looked up at him tearfully, and he continued. "They would have had no chance in a fair fight against you." She smiled and leaned her forehead against his. "So, now, do you have any bandages?"
Minerva nodded. "In my bag, in my office. There's a potion too." Snape kissed her again before leaving for her office via the newly unsupervised floo network. He returned carrying her traveling cloak and carpetbag.
He pulled out the vial he'd found, and studied the blue-tinged fluid in it. "Aglica…" he muttered to himself, "and grensem…" Opening the vial, he sniffed at the cork. "And hellsreg. Good potion for burns and pain. And it should help minimize scarring."
Minerva watched him silently. She wasn't sure he even knew he was speaking out loud, but she wasn't going to interrupt him. She loved watching him work with potions; he was so passionate. She couldn't see why he was still lobbying for the Defense Against the Dark Arts position.
Severus tugged at the corner of her towel, but waited for her permission to pull it away from her. She nodded her assent and Severus gently pushed the soft material to the side.
The scars running across Minerva's chest would have been quite disturbing to someone who hadn't had Snape's extensive past with injuries. The four marks were an angry red color, and looked very sore. One ran vertically down the center of her chest, two more streaked diagonally just above her right breast, and the worst by far start by her lowest rib on the right and cut across her entire torso to touch the farthest side of her left breast.
Minerva swallowed noticeably. "What do you think?" she asked, her apprehension apparent in her voice.
Snape lowered his head to place a kiss just above her left breast, over her heart. "I think they're badges of honor." Minerva smiled softly at him. "I also think Delores Umbridge is lucky to be under the watchful eye of Poppy, because otherwise I might have tried to do something to her." Minerva's smile widened. "And, at any rate," Snape continued, in a more business like tone. "If you don't wish to wear these badges proudly," he let his hands hover over her skin, "this potion should take care of that."
He carefully applied the potion, apologizing unnecessarily when she hissed in discomfort. "The healers were a lot less careful than you," she insisted.
Severus finished dressing Minerva's wounds and helped her into her tartan dressing gown before pulling her covers back and helping her into bed. She grimaced half-heartedly and told him that he was doing too much for her. "Nothing is too much for you," he said. He kissed her forehead and turned towards her fireplace.
"Wait!" she called. "You're leaving?"
Severus smiled and walked back to the bed, settling himself next to her. She shifted herself so she could comfortably lay next to him and she arranged his arms around her comfortably. He kissed her neck and breathed in the cherry scent lingering in her hair. Just before Minerva drifted to sleep she heard him murmur, "Welcome home."