Don't own, no making money with this.



"Again?" she asked and immediately grabbed his upper arm and helped him to stagger towards the nearest bed. She helped him sit down and she arched her eyebrow when he didn't dare to meet her eyes, when he didn't say a word.

"Alright, Mister Snape, what was it? What did they hit you with?" her tone was curious, stern, severe but he still only looked at his shoes and the dirt on them, the scruffy look of the worn leather.

"Mister Snape, I will not play games. You stumble in the hall, you don't want to be taken in here and I would like to know what. exactly. happened. And you will tell me now!"

"Nothing, Madam Pomfrey," he replied, muffled through a split lip which she apparently hadn't seen yet.

"Fine," she sighed. "Flat on your back, I'll run a diagnostic spell on you. It would be so much simpler if you'd just tell me but since you're playing the stubborn boy again..."

"You can't tell me what to do," he spat angrily but didn't look up yet either.

"I can and I will. Now, Mister Snape."

"You're not even old enough..."

"That is quite enough," she said, the sternness of her voice turning into anger. "I remember having this discussion with you before. For your benefit and your stubborn disposition, I will repeat it. I am obviously old enough to work here and to have completed my training and I've been given this responsibility by not only Headmaster Dumbledore but also St Mungo's and the Ministry of Magic..."

"You're too young to be a trained mediwitch," he said angrily and wanted to get up but she pressed him back onto the bed with both her hands on his shoulders.

"I am twenty-one, Mister Snape. Quite old enough, I assure you. And you should know best that I am completely able to heal you if you would just stop being so stubborn."

"I'm not stubborn," he said and looked up. He watched her as she watched him. Her eyes widened fractionally but otherwise nothing in her face revealed anything. He knew his lip hurt, however. He could feel the blood trickling down towards his chin.

"Well, that is one thing we have to heal," she said quietly, all anger, all sternness, all fierceness gone from her voice and instead, she was the kind mediwitch again. He knew her pattern. She would be fierce and wanted to be taken seriously until she could actually see most of the damage and then she revealed that she really wasn't that old yet and quite, he thought, inexperienced. Not that she was inefficient; in fact, he knew from all his other times in the Infirmary, all the times when she had to patch him up that she was very good at what she did. But she was young. Very young and he found it hard to see her as a mediwitch. She was more like a pretty seventh-year to him. A very pretty one, to be honest.

"Did they hit you with something other than their fists and that Tripping Hex?" she asked softly and lifted her wand slowly. She always lifted it slowly so he could see what she was doing. Not that it was necessary. He could separate friend from foe but a moment later, and a smile on her face later, his lip stopped bleeding and he shook his head.

"The truth, Mister Snape, please?" she asked, running her wand over his legs.

"Nothing else, ma'am," he said. "And it wouldn't have been necessary to be here."

"I'll be the judge of that. Even if you consider me too young," chuckled Madam Pomfrey. She waved her wand over his legs and after a quick tingling, she smiled at him. "You're good to go, Mister Snape. And do consider talking to your Head of House or the Headmaster about these incidents."



Slowly, she brushed his hair from his eyes. He lay there, so scrawny, so thin, so pale. The Dreamless Sleep Potion allowed him to rest, and it allowed her to check him over completely. He definitely wasn't eating enough and he didn't give his body enough time to grow, enough time to relax. He was in complete and utter shock but that came as no surprise. She had agreed to take care of Remus Lupin after the full moon but she hadn't agreed to take care of pupils being scared and almost being bitten by him. She had been assured that Remus Lupin was safe in the Shrieking Shack.

And now, she had to take care of Severus Snape again. Being under one of the thumbs of those four – again. Too often in the past he had come in to the Infirmary, or had been dragged into it by herself after being hexed and jinxed by those four Gryffindors. Mostly two of them, most it had been James Potter and Sirius Black. She knew, even if he never told. Now it had been Lupin of the four to almost hurt him. To almost kill him or to condemn him to the same fate of being a werewolf.

That poor boy. She swallowed around the lump in her throat. Maybe she was too young for the job. She was only twenty-four after all. Maybe her mother was right and being at Hogwarts was not just healing broken noses and scraped knees. Maybe she had been right, and she had got herself into something much bigger than herself. Mistreated, abused children she had to heal after the summer, young children being bullied by bigger ones, the entire politics of a student body.

And now this. Now the child who was so often under her care lay there. Almost dead-like.

She rested her hand on his forehead and smiled sadly.

This boy would go the wrong way if someone didn't do something very soon – and knowing Dumbledore, the old coot, all of those four would get out of this with a slap on the wrists again.



He remembered the touch. He remembered the softness of her hands on his forehead and the gentle magic that flowed through him as her wand pointed at him. It didn't scare him and he didn't fear it either. He knew that magic, he knew the touch. Gentle, kind, healing.

He didn't want to open his eyes to see how she had changed in the past four years that he hadn't seen her. Her eyes would be the same, he supposed and her hair wouldn't be too changed either. Probably she was heavy with child these days, or had the sagging stomach of a woman born one or two. Maybe she didn't look changed at all and that was what he wanted least. If everyone but him hadn't changed. If they had all kept the way their faces and bodies looked and his was the only one being marked.

"I know you're awake, Severus Snape. You can open your eyes now too," she said gently, her hand still on his forehead, her thumb stroking his skin slowly.

He didn't move, he didn't bat an eyelid. He just lay and waited for her to turn away in disgust.

"Dumbledore told me that you're on our side," she continued, her thumb continued to stroke his forehead. "And I'm back to patching you up, eh? He said you'll start teaching here? I'm glad. I mean seriously, I know you always thought I was too young to be mediwitch but compared to the rest of the staff here, I really am a baby. And now at least you're here and you're the baby, not me," she laughed softly, it sounded incredibly gentle, incredibly nice, incredibly soft and warm.

He kept his eyes closed, didn't move, only listened to her laughter, her words and tried not to lean into her touch.



"While I'm grateful that you keep the accidents in Potions to an all time low, I would prefer you to come to me sooner if you inhale fumes of any kind. For heaven's sake, Severus, your lungs will look like Swiss cheese sooner rather than later if you continue this way," she fumed herself. He was so irresponsible when it came to himself. Had never learned to properly take care of himself, had never cared about his own body and about his own health. And then she had to heal him. Again. She had stopped counting the times she had waved her wand over him, had salvaged what she could.

She sighed and looked at him sternly but he only smirked and pulled the shirt back over his body. It was a shame, he had the upper body of a young Greek god – or close to it. Sinewy, lean, tall, the right amount of hair on his chest and the perfect line of hair from his navel downwards. If given the chance, she would have looked at him all day long.

But it wasn't appropriate, unseeming for a woman her age and of her profession.

She couldn't deny that Severus held a special place in her heart. She couldn't deny that she felt attracted to this young man, to his sarcasm and the fresh wind he had brought into Hogwarts. But she also couldn't deny that he was nine years younger than herself and he probably thought of her as a maternal figure only.

She smiled at him as he smirked at her.

"Poppy, it was nothing. Just a Draught of Living Death..."

"See? You think it's harmless. Draught of Living Death. Fumes of Draught of Living Death, Severus. Not lavender-scented massage oil," she huffed and tried to hid her embarrassment upon even mentioning massage oil.

"Lavender-scented massage oil would be worse," he argued and pulled his robes back over his clothes. Shame that everything was hidden again. Shame.

"No it wouldn't," she shook her head. "Well, you're fine. Off you go, torture some children and make sure none of them end up here. And next time..."

"I'll come here immediately. Or not," he continued to smirk and walked out in a billow of robes.

Poppy only sighed and sat down on a bed in her Infirmary. She smiled sadly to herself. If this was all she could get, it would have to be enough. Not that there could ever be more.



He paced the Infirmary, angry at himself, angry at Dumbledore, angry at Lily and Potter for even having a child – angry at everyone but the woman sitting there quietly listening to him rant. She wasn't smiling, she wasn't smirking, she wasn't grimacing. She just kept her face neutral but interested, she just listened and from time to time, sipped on the tea she had made herself – and him.

Nobody listened to him the way she did, nobody ever allowed him to talk like this for hours on end, and nobody cared about him this much, and nobody was this honest to him.

"Severus?" she interrupted him softly.

"What?" he snapped, feeling immediately a little stab of guilt upon snarling at her like this. He bowed his head towards her and she smiled at him.

"Isn't it a get worked up over the arrival of a child? He is not even here yet and I don't want you to talk yourself into a frenzy and a heart attack," she told him, grasping his hand. Her touch was so familiar, so comfortable and yet, for the past few...months...years, it also sent a jolt through his body. A tingling up and down his spine which caused a twitch of muscles in his face, causing him to almost smile. It soothed and it comforted and it calmed and it healed.

"It's his child," he said, feeling quite deflated.

"I know it's his child," she smiled sadly. "But you're the adult now and you're on no levels equal, Severus. You're the teacher, he's the child. Don't see the sins of the father in the child."

"How can I not? For weeks, Hagrid talks about nothing else but the way he looks like his father," he thundered and wrenched his hand away from hers. It wouldn't do to feel soothed and comforted and calm and well when he was getting so angry about this. He needed to pace, he needed to walk this off.

She sighed and stood up, moved in his path and held out her arms like a mother would to a child. He stopped in his tracks and looked at her for a long moment before he gave in and let himself be hugged by this woman (who was by no means too young, or too old, at the moment) and let his head rest on her shoulder, his face burrowed into her neck, breathing in the Poppy-scent he's known for such a long time. He closed his eyes and let himself – for a moment only – just feel the comfort of the arms of that woman around him.



"You silly man," she whispered to his still form, his eyes the only thing following her, and his forehead the only thing that did move. He wanted to shake his head or nod or say something but he couldn't. "Why the need to go out there? Severus, truly. And all alone. You're not...well, you are that powerful but how long have I told you to take care of yourself? And don't look like that, you know I had to put you in the bind, otherwise you'd have moved your head again and your arms and legs and I have to fix it. I can't let you leave without being completely healthy again. Stop looking like that," she smiled gently.

She brushed her hand across his forehead and his cheek. "One more minute and I'll even let you talk again," she laughed. "And yes, I will let you out before the night is over even though I don't approve. But you know that as well. Now close your eyes and let me do my work."

She was dreadfully tempted to kiss him there and then. Not because he was helpless but even though he was helpless. And because he looked like he could do well with a kiss but she held back. If only touching his forehead caused fireworks to explode in her stomach, and if only touching him casually, at meals in the Great Hall or whenever he came in (even if it was only a hand on his arms) meant that her heart was beating wildly in her chest, she couldn't begin to fathom what it would do to her if she kissed only his cheek. She smiled her longing away and watched as his eyes fluttered shut before she waved her wand in rather complicated patterns over his body and his head.

Once more, it had been a werewolf to threaten him, once more he had been the victim of his former bullies. Once more, he lay there helplessly because of Black. She sighed silently and concentrated on her work. It was important to get him well as quick as possible. For her own heart, and for his confidence.

She closed her own eyes for a second before she released the binds on him.

"What did you think you were doing?" he snarled and she only sighed. "Poppy, I wasn't that badly."

"You were unconscious when they brought you in," she rolled her eyes. "You had a concussion."

He grumbled and pushed himself up on his elbows and her intuition, her instincts made her help him, touch his shoulders through the thin shirt she had let him wear. Better not look at his naked upper body if she could avoid it.

"Can I go?" he asked, and for a moment, it seemed as if he wanted to take her hand.

"Yes," she nodded. "Go and take care of yourself."



He sat with his head in his hands. He hadn't come to rant or to talk at all. He hadn't come to be healed and he hadn't come to do anything but...feel the comfort the mere presence of this woman could give him.

She understood and seemed to sense his fear and when she opened her arms to him, he let himself fall into the embrace and clung to her as he would on a lifeline.



She knew she shouldn't let him see her tears but she was too busy holding down his shaking legs with one hand and waving her wand with the other to brush them away. She hated those nights when he had to go and always came back to her bruised and battered, shaking and trembling, hurting and clenching his teeth so tightly that she was afraid they would break. This brave man suffered so much and she couldn't offer him the smallest amount of comfort besides making him as healthy again as she could. It hurt her unbearably, physical, emotional pain, to see him like this and she so wanted to wrap him in her arms and let him rest his head on her chest and run her fingers through his hair and her legs around his torso and make sure he was safe. Wouldn't let him out of her sight for one moment, or out of her arms, if only she could.

"Poppy," he gasped and she knew he tried to keep the thrashing to a minimum but it was the Cruciatus. It was what it did to people. It didn't explain the broken hip and it didn't explain the crushed nose.

"I know, Severus, I know. Just keep as still as possible, alright? Just relax a bit," she said soothingly.

His hands shook wildly and he tried to take a deep breath but obviously failed. "I..."

"Your ribs? Severus, did they do something to your ribs as well?"

"I don't know," he gasped. "I wish...I wish I could do something for you..." he whispered barely audibly.

"Stuff and nonsense. You brew potions for me and...but you'd do me a big favour if you'd begin to take care of yourself when you're not being tortured by a madman," she smiled at him and grasped his hand as she felt she could let go off his legs. She stroked them with her fingers, quickly, briefly and kept her eyes on him.

"Would you like some Dreamless Sleep?" she asked, after having healed as much as she could.

"No," he shook his head, "it will interfere with the Torture-Potion," his voice sounded better but still weak and as he moved to get up, she only shook her head.

"Not this time," she whispered to him and pushed him gently back on the bed. "Not on my life and not on your life."


"But nothing," she said sternly and slowly put her hand on his forehead. "You're save here and nobody will disturb you until the morning."

He looked at her oddly and as another tear escaped her eyes, he slowly lifted his hand and brushed it away with almost steady fingers and kept his hand on her cheek. She couldn't pull her eyes away and neither, it seemed, could he – until sleep fell upon him and the fluttered closed.

She sat there for hours, just watching him sleep, watching him breath and watching over him.



He wanted to shout and scream for her. He hurt and she made him better. She listened when he had to rant, when he had to complain. She tended to him, his body and his soul and now he couldn't. Would never again feel her embrace or her hand on his forehead.

He missed her very much and knew that he would never stop missing her as he rolled himself into a ball, trying to push the pain away from his body.



"You just lay still," she said, tears flowing freely down her face. "You're lucky to be alive at all," she continued. "You can thank Arthur Weasley and that former Healer of his. I couldn't have helped you." A sob escaped her lips as she watched how he looked at her with wide open eyes, disbelieving, possibly.

"No, no, don't try to talk," she whispered and put her hand gently on his forehead, stroking his eyebrows. "I know. I wish I could have known before. I missed you so and I was so scared for you. Severus..." more sobs flowed through her body. She couldn't talk anymore and she felt incredible joy and incredible pain and incredible relief as she saw him smirking only a little. He looked, still, like death warmed up, looked like the man that had, just barely, escaped Death's greedy hands.

"I'm sorry," a tear was running over her lips and she tasted the saltiness on her lips. It was quite unladylike to sniffle like this. "I'm so sorry."

"Nothing to be sorry about," he croaked very slowly and her fingers were immediately on his lips.

"Don't talk, I said. You're vocal chords are still not quite healed," she replied and wanted to pull her hand away again but his hand came up quicker than she could pull hers away and held it steadily at his lips. Rather tenderly, and rather surprisingly, he kissed, with chapped lips, her forefinger, her middle finger and all the others. One after the other.

Her eyes widened in understanding as she looked at him and he looked at her again and their gazes locked.

She let out a nervous, sob-induced sigh and throwing all caution in the wind, she lay down on his bed, next to him and more tears followed those already cried when she felt his arm come up slowly around her.



He sighed. "What?"

"I'm just saying that...really Severus, you could have hung that portrait with magic instead of the Muggle way and hitting your thumb with that hammer," she tutted and fussed and held his hand between both of hers, gently kissing the bruised nail.

"I just happen to think that I should hang that portrait in our home in the Muggle way. I'm sure your Father would have approved."

"He would have cheered," she rolled her eyes. "But only because he never could do magic."

"And since this is his house we're living in now," he smirked.

Again, she rolled her eyes and snuggled to his side, resting her head on his shoulder before she looked up at him with a small smile playing across her lips. "You're insufferable from time to time."

"And so are you," he replied, trying to hide the smile but failing and kissed the top of her head affectionately.

"That's why I love you, you know?" she whispered and inched up, letting her lips come closer to his. Closer and closer.

"I know and I can say with all honesty that I love you despite your insufferability," he whispered against her lips before he kissed them softly.