Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything associated with it.
It had been another discouraging day in the life of Severus Snape. He hadn't slept well the night before due to old nightmares. Neville Longbottom, potions disaster extraordinaire, had managed to melt yet another cauldron, the resulting mess of which burned a hole through his favourite pair of black leather boots. And he was feeling a bit ill.
Snape stalked into his private rooms after the exhausting day and collapsed gratefully onto his rather comfortable green velvet couch. He leaned back, closed his eyes, and let out a weary sigh, willing his throbbing headache to disappear. Without looking, Snape kicked off his black boots and put his feet up on the couch. He appeared all too willing to simply fall asleep and not wake up until the following morning in spite of all the work he still had to do. Of course, his journey into unconsciousness was interrupted when he let out a loud sneeze. Followed by several more.
Sniffing, he pulled a handkerchief out of his robe pocket and noisily blew his nose. Snape groaned. Just perfect, he thought. On top of feeling like rubbish, there are essays to grade and Albus' inane staff meeting to deal with tonight. I suppose a quick nap would do no harm.
No sooner had he thought this did he conjure a squashy pillow, lay his head down, sniff once more, and fall into a fitful sleep.
Where is that man? thought Minerva McGonagall, somewhat angrily. The meeting started twenty minutes ago.
She stalked to Snape's private room door and knocked loudly calling, "Severus Snape! I know you're in there. Open this door this instant and get to the staff meeting."
No one answered.
McGonagall knocked again. "Severus?" she called, a bit quieter. "Can I come in?"
Again, no answer.
McGonagall twisted the knob and let herself in. She knew Snape's door would only unlock for herself and the Headmaster unless Snape allowed one entrance.
McGonagall was surprised to see a dark room without a fire roaring in the fireplace. Really, Severus, keep your rooms warm. It's the middle of January for Merlin's sake. You'll catch your death of a cold. She pointed her wand at the fireplace and a merry blaze immediately lit the room. She enjoyed a small moment of satisfaction as warmth washed over her before glancing around for any sign of the Potions Master.
She was just heading towards the bedroom when a slight moan caught her attention. McGonagall turned towards the couch and noticed a twitching man in black robes sleeping restlessly. She gave a small, exasperated sigh, walked to Snape's side, and sat down on a footrest.
"Severus," she said softly. "Wake up child."
In response, Snape moaned again and turned away from her.
"Severus," McGonagall said a bit louder while gently shaking his shoulder. "It's just a dream."
Snape awoke with a start, a hand immediately rising to his face, as if to shield himself from an attacker. "Are you all right?" McGonagall asked kindly.
Snape gasped in surprise, but nodded, shifting a bit uncomfortably as he realised the deputy headmistress was watching him not only sleep, but had wakened him from a nightmare that had haunted him for years.
"Are you sure child?" McGonagall asked, letting concern seep through her voice. "You're pale."
"I'm fine, Minerva," Snape tried to say bitingly. His response was somewhat less acerbic as he was forced to speak through chattering teeth, as fact that did not go unnoticed by McGonagall.
"Tell me about your dream," the Transfiguration professor said softly.
Snape couldn't help feeling like he was twelve years old again. "It was my father," he said without looking at McGonagall. "He was thrashing me for knocking over my dinner plate."
"You always were quite the clumsy child," McGonagall said with a small smile, though her eyes were shining with sympathy for the young boy who was beaten.
Snape nodded slowly and sneezed. McGonagall looked down at him, still lying on his couch. "I wish you would choose potions with less tentacula pollen. You know it's murder for your allergies."
Snape sneezed once more and McGonagall handed him the handkerchief he had dropped on the ground. "You know as well as I do that the N.E.W.T. potions require tentacula pollen if they are to be potent enough to have any affect," Snape said rather nasally.
"I do, but I wish you would take care of yourself child," McGonagall said. "Honestly, I cannot understand why you chose to go into potions. You're allergic to almost half the ingredients."
Snape opened his mouth to reply, but was instead overcome with another sneezing fit. "I know you're doing the Order a great favour by being the only really competent potion maker and brewing all our potions, but you need to care about your health."
McGonagall reached a hand up to gently brush the stray hair off Snape's pale face. Snape snuggled deeper into the couch, enjoying the light touch. "You're feverish as well," she informed Snape as he shivered. She conjured a thick woolen blanket and draped it over the thin frame of the younger man. "Really, Severus, you must learn to take care of yourself. I expect your illness is a mixture of allergies and exhaustion." She continued to softly stroke his face.
Snape murmured incoherently, on the brink of falling back asleep. "Let's get you to bed child," McGonagall said, standing up. She levitated Snape to his bed, complete with the woolen blanket, and tucked him snuggly under his blankets. She walked briskly over to the small cabinet where Snape kept his potions and pulled out a dreamless sleep, fever reducer, and the special allergy potion Snape had invented himself for his own benefit.
McGonagall looked at the little vial, then at the groggy form lying in the bed. "I wish you would take your potion, then your allergies wouldn't be nearly as bad," she muttered to the Potions professor. "I don't know why you won't take it. What's the purpose of brewing a potion you won't take?"
"It makes me sleepy," Snape mumbled back, sounding much like a stubborn child.
"And I suppose this is a much better alternative," McGonagall gestured to his prone frame buried under three warm blankets.
Snape didn't answer, opting instead to sneeze, cough harshly, and wheeze as he struggled to regain his breath. "Your cold's in your lungs now, I expect," said McGonagall as she uncapped the vials of potions. Snape's sigh turned into another wheezing breath, causing McGonagall to put down the potions in favour of lifting Snape's body slightly so his lungs could clear. She gently lay him down on the pillows again and returned to the potions.
"Drink," she commanded, lifting a vial to Snape's lips. It was a testament to how ill Snape actually was that he drank the fever reducing potion without question. He swallowed his allergy potion and dreamless sleep with no resistance as well.
McGonagall sat down in the chair next to Snape's bed and resumed stroking is jet black hair. "Take care of yourself child. I know you haven't had many people care about you in the past, but now you do."
"Thank you, Minerva," Snape mumbled sleepily as he curled up under his blankets, looking for all the world like a small child.
Minerva McGonagall, famously strict deputy headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, stayed by her former student's side, gently petting his soft hair as she listened to his breathing become steady and unlaboured as he drifted into restful sleep.
I hope you enjoyed this no-plot fluff. I tried to keep McGonagall and Snape in character. How did I do?