Disclaimer: It's JKR's world, I just play in it.

Sorry it's been so long, I am very very busy. But, as ever, am working on slowly updating this and my other tales, with a goal of concluding all the epics by the new year.


I have a knack really, for asking the most inappropriate questions. Can't you experiment on someone else, I asked, proving once and for all why we were worthy of each other, even in my naivete. It wasn't, after all, like he could just politely ask the Ministry if he could borrow an incarcerated Death Eater to run illegal experiments of dubious purpose on. And so, he took to himself, telling me as little as possible, and because there was no woman involved, no man, I had, in our improving relationship, no grounds for actual complaint.

Besides, I saw the wounds. At first, they did not register to me. Severus had potions that were frequently causstic, spilled on him often enough by students, and burned his hands regularly when distracted by research. That he did not heal the wounds immediately was an odd habit, but one I came to understand as fundamental to his nature — such errors were simply not worth his time, and so, I became used to the imperfections of his dexterous fingers and too long arms.

Tracing burns in the dark, the smoothness of skin wounded and healed, listening to the slight hiss of a too sharp breath, my own flesh came to understand what my mind refused to, which was that, having made a promise to me, he would seek too hard to keep it. He hated Gryffindors, I came to realize, because so little good had ever come of his own boldness, and so little mercy had ever awarded his eternal courage.

As the experiments wore on, as his flesh wore up with scars instead of down with scouring, he inevitably began to lose his temper, not at the world, but at himself. I worried, and he did not approve.

I took to sitting in his office, in his workroom, on a desk or table, legs swinging in a way that he hated, merely to distract him enough so that he would not harm himself more than was truly necessary. I could not, of course, be there all the time.

I do not precisely know what he was trying to do or how well thought out it was -- Severus never told me, and I never asked. After all, how is one to reprimand her husband upon finding out that attempting to cut his own arm off had seemed like a good idea at the time?

There was, by the time I came upon the scene, a great deal of blood. Severus, was still conscious, although leaning heavily against his work table, grip on the knife still embedded in his arm, slackening. Of course, I thought it was an accident at first, but he shook his head at me, almost imperceptibly. Later, in the hospital wing, I had time to consider what had been at the time shock and offense. Married to a man of his nature, I took what confessions I could and released him from his obligation, by offering to help remove that which had been healed as best as was able and yet of course, still housed the blight.

He refused, and while it perhaps broke him in some way, I was grateful that it was he who had to learn his limits for a change, and not myself.

Sometimes, I nearly suckled at that damaged arm in the dark, eyes pressed shut, because I was not willing to see the tears in his. As with all things, it was always the flesh that reordered our world and his hands that held me in strange mercy.