Author: Alcina vom Steinsberg (the_winterwitch on LJ)
Characters: Severus Snape, Poppy Pomfrey
Prompts: In the Prince's Tale, we see Severus getting laughed at as he tries to hang on to a bucking broom. By adulthood, he's comfortable enough on a broom and knows enough about Quidditch to referee a game. Show me the moment mastery happens. Does he do it himself? Does someone help?
Word Count: ~1600
Summary: Being a new teacher isn't always easy.
Author's Notes: Written for hp_footballbets on LJ for albalark. I'm afraid that I didn't really do the prompt justice, despite its breeding the nicest plotbunny at first. The darn critter stubbornly refused to bend to my wishes, and this is what I finally came up with. I hope you still enjoy it,albalark! My heartfelt thanks go to tetleythesecond for her very helpful, effective and lightning-fast beta reading at very short notice and to pale_moonlite and tetleythesecond, not only for their kindness and patience with deadline-challenged me, but also for hosting this fun drabble betting challenge at all! You rock!
Severus Snape, the newly-minted Potions Master of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, stopped abruptly at the call of the school matron. So much for escaping the Great Hall unnoticed, he thought grimly and turned, putting on his best scowl.
"What do you want?" he snapped.
"You're limping," Madam Pomfrey answered, raising her eyebrows at his tone, "and
quite badly, if I may say so. I want you in the hospital wing at your earliest convenience."
She turned and went ahead without waiting for his answer.
Severus fumed. How dared she treat him like a schoolboy, and in front of half of the school at that! He might be the youngest teacher Hogwarts had ever had, but a teacher he was. He was finding it difficult enough already to maintain his authority, even without being ordered about by the matron. Besides, it wasn't her bloody business any longer, even if he might be carrying his head under the arm, was it now? No matter how much he hurt, he wasn't going to be poked at and dosed by that obnoxious, meddlesome -
Realising that he had followed Madam Pomfrey in spite of himself, Severus admitted defeat. So be it, then, he wouldn't have been able to heal himself properly after all, though he would rather declare his everlasting love for that Divination bint than admit to that. Trying to hide his injury as best he could, he drew himself up and stalked into the ward with its rows of pristine, white beds. Now, where was that infernal woman?
"I'm in my office," the matron called at the sound of the infirmary doors crashing against the wall. "Please come in."
He was just about to vent his anger when Madam Pomfrey looked up with a sheepish grin.
"I'm so sorry, Severus, I shouldn't have commandeered you like that. I just forgot for a moment that you are no longer my responsibility," she added, referring to the many times she had patched him up during his school days.
Dumbstruck, he just grunted and gave her a curt nod. His anger evaporated at her confession and the friendly manner with which she had addressed him - quite different from the other teachers, who regarded him mostly with wariness or even open hostility and made him feel unwanted at best.
"The teachers usually make appointments with me or come to me after hours. It's part of my duties to offer them medical services as well. But you lot get special treatment in my office," she explained with a grin, gesturing for him to sit on the examination table. "It wouldn't do for the students to walk in on their instructors in their smalls, would it?"
Blushing, Severus took off his robes and coat and eased himself carefully onto the examination table, while the matron took out her wand and started waving it over his lower body.
"Paracelsus' pustules, Severus, whatever did you do to yourself?" Poppy chided, peering at the pulsing colours of her diagnostic charm. "You've torn two ligaments, have a hairline fracture of the kneecap and a badly-healed fracture of the tibia. And, wait -"
She bent lower, casting another charm. Severus blushed again. He couldn't remember ever being so close to her before, and despite suddenly feeling very hot, he found that he didn't mind at all. A ringlet escaped her tight bun, and she had very pretty ears...
"What?" His blush deepening to crimson, he realised that she had said something.
"You need to take your trousers off. Your tibial plateau needs to be re-broken, and I can't do that while you're dressed." She locked the door with a flick of her wand, obviously assuming that he had blushed out of modesty.
Obediently, he charmed off his trousers, shoes, and socks, and lay down. This wasn't the first time she had to mend his bones, or some other injury, and the familiar routine of the medical treatment helped him get his composure back. Why did he react so intensely to her? It wasn't as if there was any reason for it; she was just being friendly.
Though her procedure seemed to be different this time, Severus suddenly realised. Her hands were gentler when she did something painful, and instead of scolding him for the newest mess he had got himself into, she worked quietly, always explaining what she did.
"Ah!" Severus's leg jerked up, immediately stopped by two firm hands. Poppy looked up.
"I'm sorry, I should have warned you. The tibial plateau is particularly sensitive, and I have to re-break it. I'm afraid it's going to hurt some more before I'm done."
He nodded, biting his lip, forgetting the pain at her concerned look. Patting his leg, the matron then proceeded to set the bone correctly and heal the break.
"There, all done; your leg is as good as new. I'll get you some Skele-Gro and you're finished."
Helping Severus to sit up again and raising the table head for his comfort, Poppy fetched a skeleton-shaped bottle, measuring a large spoon of the vile brew, which he obediently took.
"Thank you, Madam Pomfrey," he said.
"Oh, please call me Poppy," she smiled. "We're colleagues now. Having you calling me Madam makes me feel even older than I am!"
Handing him his wand so he could take care of his wardrobe, she disappeared through a second door, reappearing right away with a tea tray. As she turned around to close the door, it suddenly dawned on Severus that she had a very nice and firm backside indeed, and he marvelled at the discovery that Poppy Pomfrey was not only not the age-less authority figure of his school-days, but also a woman, and a pretty one, and even not so much older than himself. Ten years, perhaps, or fifteen?
"Here we are. You know the routine: it'll be half an hour before the bone is set enough to bear weight, and take it easy for some days until the healing is complete."
She brought a chair up for herself and poured two cups of tea. "This is part of the teacher treatment, too. Helps with the bad taste."
Severus couldn't help a smile. The bad taste of the standard healing potions had been the point of many discussions between them, and one of the reasons that potions had become his passion. He had already managed to improve a headache potion in taste as well as effectiveness, and decided to give the Skele-Gro formula his attention next.
Offering him a dish of chocolate biscuits, Poppy continued: "But now I want to know how you managed to injure yourself so badly. Yes, I have detected the three broken ribs as well, but you mended them well enough yourself.
Severus blushed again, dropping his head in the attempt to hide it with his hair.
Poppy patted his good leg and winked at him. "Come on, it can't be so bad! Or have you had any trouble with students pranking you?" she asked, growing serious.
"No, nothing of the sort," Severus assured her. "They try, of course, but so far, I managed to stay ahead. It's fairly stupid, and also rather embarrassing. You must promise me that you will tell nobody."
"Goblin's honour!" Poppy exclaimed solemnly.
They exchanged a quick grin, suddenly at ease with each other.
"I fell of a broom," Severus then confessed.
"A broom? But Severus, you fly no better than a quail!" Poppy had healed him so many times after a bad fall, even in his seventh year, that she knew this fact only too well.
"I know. But I was told to referee the next Quidditch match, and -"
"And you didn't want to let on that you still can't fly properly if your life depended on it," Poppy finished, nodding. "Merlin's earwax, Severus, you could have killed yourself, trying to improve on your own! What you need is some remedial flying, and pronto. But there is no way you're going to referee that match, I'm not allowing it. It's only in two days, and the fractures will still be too freshly-healed by then. But I suppose you won't mind an excuse, will you?"
"No," Severus admitted with surprising relief. "As long as you don't tell how I injured myself."
"Well, we'll have to think of something then. What about getting trampled by a Thestral when collecting ingredients?"
Severus gulped and nodded. That was embarrassing enough, but far better than admitting the truth.
"Fine." Poppy got up and Vanished the tea things. "You can get up now. But don't forget to talk with Minerva about some flying lessons. If Madam Hooch didn't manage to teach you so far, I suppose a different approach will be more effective."
"Minerva?" Severus asked while he carefully got up and put his robes and coat back on.
Poppy nodded. "Didn't you know? She played professional Quidditch for two years after school, and is as good a flyer as Rolanda."
"I'll think about it. But, Poppy -"
Severus blushed again but mustered all his courage.
"I think I really need some remedial healing charms. You wouldn't perhaps have some free time for me, next Saturday, perhaps?"
He got a wide smile in return. "Oh, but of course! I'd love to - I mean, I would really enjoy helping you improve!"