Disclaimer: JKR owns all recognizable characters and settings. No copyright infringement is intended.
She stood at the door of the old, run-down house, her hand poised to knock, when it was flung open. The tall, dark-haired man reached for her, ushering her inside, his eyes looking over her shoulder, scanning the deserted street.
"Come inside, quickly. Were you followed?"
The woman shook her head. "No, I'm certain of it."
He nodded and turned, moving towards the kitchen. "We must hurry. There is little time."
She scurried behind him, not bothering to remove her cloak as she followed him up a narrow staircase to a small room on the first floor.
Silently, she entered.
"When did it begin?" he asked as he removed his cufflinks and rolled his sleeves to his elbows.
She tried to remain calm but could not hide the tremor in her voice. "This afternoon, after tea."
"Fever, irritability, stomach pains… and then I noticed the rash."
The man's head whipped up, his expression clearly alarmed. "A rash? Describe it."
"Patches of raised, white welts, surrounded by red."
The man held out his arms, but she hesitated. It wasn't that she didn't trust him—she just didn't want to let go.
"Hermione," Snape said calmly. "Please."
She opened her cloak.
She hummed unevenly as he worked, tears silently trailing down her cheeks. Guilt and terror warred for dominance in her belly. She shook her head, the discordant lullaby never ceasing; she had to remain strong.
A tiny whimper caused her heart to skip a beat, and the melody broke as a sob escaped her throat. Little fingers wrapped around hers and clung, and she released a shuddering breath. She looked to Snape, a glimmer of hope shining in her eyes.
He appeared haggard, as if he had been dragged behind a stampeding Hippogriff. Slowly raising his head, he rasped, "Tea."
He was attempting to keep her occupied, and she didn't like it. It worried her. With shaking hands, she removed her cloak, tossing it over the back of a kitchen chair. She heated the water with an angry wave of her wand, ignoring the Muggle stove for a more expedient method. He would notice that she hadn't made it 'properly'—he always did—but she didn't much care. She yanked open the cupboard and pulled out the tin of breakfast tea. She brewed, then steeped by rote, her mind completely focussed on the happenings in the small room above her.
Teacup in hand, she made her way up the stairs. Hearing the velvet timbre of his voice, she paused outside the door to the little room, her irritation disappearing in an instant.
He was singing.
Oh, hush thee, my baby,
Thy sire was a knight,
Thy mother a lady,
Both lovely and bright;
The woods and the glens,
From the towers which we see,
They all are belonging,
Dear baby, to thee.
His long, pale fingers gently stroked the smattering of red curls on the small, round head that rested against his shoulder, and after a shuddered sigh… silence.
"Drink," she murmured, hoping that he wouldn't notice the tears on her cheeks. She held out the cup of tea, but he shook his head.
"I'd like to hold her for a while, if that's all right."
Pain lanced through her heart, and she nodded, placing the teacup on the bedside table.
"Will she be all right?" she asked, bracing in preparation for whatever news he was about to impart.
"I believe so."
Relieved, she sank to the floor and asked, "Was it the potion?"
"An allergic reaction." He looked at her with pain-filled eyes.
"Hermione, what have we done?"
A/N: Snape was singing Scottish Lullaby (Lullaby of an Infant Chief). Clues and hints abound. ;)
This drabble series is complete in four parts, so I'll be posting it throughout the week.
Thanks to DeeMichelle and AnnieTalbot for looking these over.