Title: The Art of Smothering

Summary: Snape returns to Grimmauld Place with a cold and gets taken care of by one of the last people he expected.

Disclaimers: JKR owns the world of Harry Potter. I don't own or make money off of this.

Snape stepped up to the door of Grimmauld Place. He rubbed the tip of his nose, absent mindedly. He'd just walked 5 blocks through the pouring rain, and was tired and achy. It didn't help that he didn't feel well getting onto the night bus. But, he had just figured his nose tickled because of all the dust. He hated the night bus. They never seemed to actually clean it.

He reached for his wand, but thought the better of it and reached for his handkerchief instead. "Hashiff! Hasshhhff! HACHIFF!" he sneezed into the already soaked handkerchief. He pushed the hair that had fallen forward off of his face and reached for his wand again. He muttered the spell to open the door and walked inside.

Immediately, he was hit with a burst of cold air that chilled him to the bone. He started to shiver and pressed his lips between his teeth to keep them from chattering. Cold drops of rain slid down his face and over his nose. Quickly, his hand reached for his handkerchief. "Hischhff! Ecshiff! Asshiff!" he sneezed wetly into the balled up handkerchief. He sniffed a bit, but it didn't do any good. His nose was dripping and itchy. He needed something – dry – to blow it into. He sniffed again, this time to counter the itch, but it didn't have the desired effect. "Asschoo! Isshoo! Tisshoo!" he sneezed into the back of his hand. Desperate, he snorted and swallowed the excess, cringing in repulsion at the act.

"Who's sick in my house?!" the portrait of Mrs. Black wailed, cutting through Snape's already pounding head like an ice pick. "Get out of my house!" the shrill continued.

He walked up to the picture and showed her his ring. It was a family heirloom, showing his pure-bloodline. She stopped shrieking and quietly went back to looking sullen. "I'd watch out if I were you. Other nosey pure-bloods are here too, and I never did care for carrots."

Snape groaned. 'Weasleys, why did it always have to be the Weasleys?' "Where?"

"Cleaning out my attic. They'll hear you if you go up there and keep sneezing like that."

Why did she have to say that word? In an instant his nose started to tickle again. He turned and direct his face to the crook of his elbow. "Issff! Icciff! Issshiff! Excuse be," he said wearily as he headed back into the living room and lay down on the couch. He was soaked to the skin, but couldn't stand the thought of a Weasley seeing him in such a state. He knew it would happen eventually, but he planned to push it off as long as he could.

With a wave of his hand he lit a fire in the fireplace. Almost immediately, he heard something drop and someone pop into the room. Covered in grim and dust, Molly Weasley was standing in front of him. He hoped she wouldn't come too close to him. He had a terrible allergy to dust – and with his cold already in full swing, he knew that only bad things could come of it.

"Severus!" she exclaimed. "I'm sorry, I wasn't expecting anybody."

He nodded in reply. The fire was starting to take the edge off the cold air. "Id's a good ding dat da door's brodected. Odderwize we'd be in a dot of droble." He was amazed at how bad he sounded. He coughed a few times, but it didn't help any.

"Seveus, you're not well. What are you doing down here? And soaked to the bone? Are you trying to catch your death? Now get upstairs to your bed and change. I'll get you some supplies."

"Ikshooo! Isshoo! Ichsshoo!" he sneezed into the back of his hand. He rose from the cough and slowly made his way upstairs.

By the time Molly cleaned, changed and got everything he'd need, Snape was changed and under the covers reading. He looked up as she came into his room, with a tray piled high with everything he could humanly possibly need. Boxes of tissues, a stack of handkerchiefs, eye masks, a pitcher of water, a glass, a kettle of hot water, and assortment of herbs, the newspaper, books, cough drops, honey drops, etc. He glared at her as she set it down. "You know, in boliete combany, it's bost cibil do knock before entering somebody's roob."

"Yes, I know dear, but I was quite out of hands. Besides, you were expecting me." She had him there. Molly was nothing if not a care taker. He felt a chill run down his spine and he involuntarily shivered. The chill ran back up his spine and straight to his nose. "Hissht! Issht! Issht!" He barely knew they were coming, but Molly had apparently seen them coming because she picked up a handkerchief and thrust it in front of his face. He took it gingerly and gave his nose a good solid blow.

"Bless you dear."

"Danks. Asshoo! Asshoo! Isshoo!" He blew his nose.

"And again."

"Dank you."

"Would you like some eucalyptus tea dear?"

"Doe."

"How about a eucalyptus rub?"

"Doe, I'm finb."

"No, I don't think you are, dear. And, you'll never be able to get better if you don't rest. AND, you'll never be able to rest if you don't breath, which either will help you do. So, which will it be?"

"Neidder." He shivered again.

"I'll get you another blanket for that chill."

By the time she came back, he was asleep. He felt his body sneeze, but was too tired to do anything about it. Suddenly, he felt something cold on his face. His eyes sprang open. "Dwat are do doig?"

"Just a cold compress to bring the fever down. It's quite high."

"I dwas sleebig."

"Here," she said offering him a new handkerchief, "blow your nose."

He did so, but wished she'd leave so he could give it a good blow.

"Oh, dear, you can do better than that. You're not a child."

Embarrassed, he blew harder. More released this time and the difference certainly felt good, as he drifted back to sleep.

He felt a cold crisp sensation tickle his nostrils and upper lip. His chest suddenly felt cold, freezing. But, the pressure in his chest grew lighter, instead of the heavy sensation felt when attacked. He woke up and began to cough, heavily. Mucus from his chest was releasing. He took the glass of water Molly handed him.

"Drink," she ordered him.

He gave her a scathing look, but did as he was told. He'd seen her be more than insistent with the others in the house and wasn't up to having an argument. Especially since he wasn't sure he'd win.

He pulled the glass away from his lips. "Hisschiff! Isschif! Hasschiff!"

"Bless."

"Hasschiff! Hachiff! He-eh-hacksshoo!" He blew his nose wetly.

"There there dear. I never noticed you sneeze in threes"

He scowled. He hated being doted on – especially when he was sick. He much preferred being locked alone in a room for 3 or 4 days. As it was, he'd never felt more uncomfortable in his life. Even when he was a boy, and his parents gave him a hard time for showing weakness. Even then it was better than coddling. "Depends on how sick I am. If it's an allergy, I'll sneeze once. If it's the flu, I'll sneeze upwards of 6 times in a row. This is just a he- hea- hasshiif! Hisshiiff! Asshiff! head cold." He blew his nose again and winced.

"Does your head hurt dear? Here drink this."

"What is it?"

"Orange peel and peppermint."

He took a sip and almost spit it out. It was vial. His head started to pulse harder. "What are you trying to do, poison me?"

"If I wanted to kill you, I'd use my hands," she muttered.

"What?"

"Nothing. If you don't like it, don't drink it."

He finished the concoction and put the mug down. His head felt like it was going to split open. Remarkably, though, his nose felt better. It had cleared out substantially. But, his chest was still quite cold. "You put eucalyptus on me?" he could finally smell it.

"Yes, dear. You were having quite the time breathing."

Snape smirked. "Thand do." Maybe the Order should send her in as a Death Eater spy, get them sick, and then she could look after them. They'd terminate their life forces before they'd put up with this kind of torture. He knew she meant well, but he hoped he had enough discretion to never bring this up again. He shivered again, and settled back under the covers and back to sleep.