Spoilers for the fifth book (The Order of the Phoenix).

This an AU scene from The Order of the Phoenix a couple of days after McGonagall returns from St. Mungo's. She was there because she'd been hit in the chest with four stunning spells (courtesy of Umbridge's order) while trying to protect Hagrid. This is a McGonagall/Snape friendship fic. Umbridge also appears in here, and at this point in the book she's headmistress of Hogwarts.

Disclaimer: Nope, not mine. They still belong to J.K. Rowling.


Severus helps Minerva down the hallway. She's still weak from her recovery, and this morning Peeves stole her walking stick. When he enquired about it she grumbled that she could get along just fine without it anyways. But she didn't object too strenuously when he insisted on walking with her to her office, not of course, to help her, but because he has something to do in that general area of the castle. The excuse is a poor one, and she eyes him suspiciously when he will not tell what this business of his is, but she does not press the issue. Which tells him much more about her present state than anything she has said. She stumbles and falls heavily against him. He catches her, rather awkwardly, inches from the floor. He readjusts his grip and carefully pulls her upright. It's much too easy.

"Thank you," she mutters, embarrassed, and tries to pull away, but he doesn't let go.

"You've lost weight," he states bluntly.

Her eyes flash a warning. "My weight is none of your concern."

"When was the last time you ate anything?" he demands, ignoring her retort.

"Breakfast this morning."

"No."

"What?"

"No, you did not eat anything this morning Minerva, not at the Great Hall. You sat there with your tea and food in front of you and you were called out early to deal with the transfigured wardrobes on the third floor. You were not in the Great Hall at lunch and knowing you I highly doubt you have gone down to the kitchens to get anything."

"I don't remember, maybe I haven't anything today," she replies angrily. "What does that have to do with anything? Sometimes these things happen. I am extremely busy you know."

"It has to do with everything, " he hisses. "This is not just about today, this is about taking care of yourself properly—"

"That's rich, coming from you," she snorts.

"You are the deputy headmistress. You have a great responsibility, now, more than ever to the school, the students, the teachers, and to yourself. You don't have the luxury of neglecting yourself."

"Severus, you are way out of line!"

"Am I? So it's out of line now to be concerned about the health of Dumbledore's most trusted deputy."

"There is nothing wrong with my health, Severus."

"I beg to differ," Snape retorts icily. "St. Mungo's just released you two days ago—"

"Which means I am fine—"

"—Which means you no longer need to be hospitalized. That is not the same thing as completely healthy. Have you or have you not been eating regularly?"

"Of course I've been eating," she snaps. "Great Merlin, Severus, don't you have first years to terrorize or papers to grade?"

"Not at the moment," he replies smoothly.

She fixes him with her patented McGonagall death glare, the one she saves for particularly rambunctious first years. He stares right back at her, unflinching.

"I am delighted to here you have so much time to spare," Her voice is low and dangerous. "Unfortunately, I am not so lucky. Unlike you, I have more than enough to keep me busy. So if you would be so good as to let me go…"

"Minerva—" he tries, but she cuts him off.

"I will not have this argument with you, Severus." She's shaking now, only partly from fury. "Let go of me."

He fixes her with a cold stare for a long moment. "Very well. As you wish," he all but sneers. He releases her and she sways, slightly.

xxx

Any further discussion is cut off by the appearance of Dolores Umbridge at the end of the corridor. "Ah, there you are, Minerva," she calls as she waddles towards them. "And Severus too, what an… unexpected pleasure." She smiles broadly, which makes her look all the more dangerous. "Dear me, Minerva, you look rather pale. Are you feeling alright?" she enquires sweetly, in a tone that hints she would like nothing better than for the answer to be no.

"I'm perfectly fine, thank you." Minerva replies stiffly.

"I'm delighted to hear it." Umbridge looks slowly from one of them to the other.

"Did you want something?" Minerva asks.

Umbridge stares at them a moment longer, as though they are a puzzle she cannot quite solve. She fixes her gaze on Minerva.

"There are a number of things concerning Harry Potter's recent behavior that I thought you ought to be made aware of." She pauses. "You're trembling, are you quite sure you're well?"

"Why is everyone so concerned with my health today?" Minerva demands angrily. "First Se—oh never mind".

"Is it possible our potions master has been worried about your well-being?" Umbridge asks curiously.

"Do you think I would badger Minerva McGonagall about her health?" Snape sneers, his voice cold.

"No, I suppose you wouldn't." Umbridge looks disappointed. "I must speak to you right away, Minerva."

"I'm afraid I have something I must discuss with Professor Snape at the moment."

"Fine. I expect you in my office in fifteen minutes."

xxx

As soon as Umbridge is gone Minerva collapses against the wall. "Don't you dare say a word," she warns him. "That was not an invitation to re-open our earlier discussion."

He silently presses something into her hand.

"Chocolate?" She raises her eyebrow.

"Eat it. Your blood sugar is low, that's why you're shaking."

"Are you in the habit of carrying chocolate bars in your robes?" She smiles faintly. "I'd expect it of Lupin, but not of you."

"Just because Lupin can be an idiot doesn't mean he's not right about some things," Snape replies gruffly. "In my position, having a small amount of chocolate on hand is sensible planning."

"I won't tell," she teases. After a moment she adds seriously, "I do understand, Severus."

He nods once.

She pushes herself off the wall. "I don't suppose there's any emergency that would prevent my meeting?" she asked hopefully.

"None that I am aware of."

"I suppose I shall have to talk to the wretched woman then." She takes a few steps, before stopping abruptly and bringing a hand to her forehead.

"Minerva." He fixes his gaze at a point just to her right. "I believe you had something to discuss with me. It would not be unreasonable for us to be discussing it so long that we would only finish when you reached your office."

"Yes, of course," she says slowly. "Thank you, Severus."

"Not at all."

Fin.


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