AN: I know it's been done but…I've just gotten over the most horrid case of the flu…and this little tidbit popped into my head.

Disclaimer: I don't own Severus or Hermione…too bad really.

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The Reluctant Invalid

Professor Hermione Granger was sitting at the staff table drinking her morning cuppa and perusing the articles in the Daily Prophet. It had been several years since the war with Voldemort had ended, and the paper had not had anything nearly as important, but Hermione enjoyed it anyway. She was just about to turn the page when she heard the chair beside her groan as it was pulled away from the table, and shortly following that, a loud and rather impolite "Sniff." Raising her eyebrow, she peeked over the edge of the paper at the newcomer and was a bit surprised when she saw that sitting next to her, hunched over a bowl of oatmeal and a rather large steaming cup of coffee, was Professor Severus Snape.

Hermione surreptitiously closed her paper and set about eating her omlette, all the while observing him out of the corner of her eye. He did not look up, but with a twist of his mouth and a long suffering sigh, he turned his head to her slightly, his eyes lowered, and muttered: "Morning Miss Granger."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "That's Professor Granger Severus. And anyway, you know you can call me Hermione. I've only been trying to get you to call me that for…."

"My apologies, Professor Granger. And it's Professor Snape, Madam." he grumbled and tucked in to his oatmeal. Hermione dropped all pretenses of stealth and turned her body towards him as she regarded him plainly for the first time that inspection she noticed that his rather prominent nose was a bit red around his nostrils, and his voice had seemed rather…hoarse? That was odd.

She watched him speculatively through narrowed eyes and she saw that he wasn't exactly eating with gusto. He was picking at his food, but taking large gulps of the steaming brown liquid that was his morning staple. He had circles under his eyes that showed plainly on his pale face…which looked even paler than usual. She watched him shudder a bit and then muffle a hacking cough with his voluminous sleeve and her eyebrows raised in surprise when he removed a handkerchief from his breast pocket and proceeded to blow his nose with a loud honk.

So entranced was she at his unusual behavior that she did not notice that he had turned his eyes upon her and was now sneering at her, red nose and all, eyebrows raised in haughty derision. "As they say, Miss Granger," he said, his voice breaking a bit on the Granger part, "Take a picture. It will last longer."

Hermione started a bit in her chair as she clamped her gaping mouth shut, her eyes wide as she gazed at him incredulously. "Professor Snape…are you…ill?"

He frowned at her, looking annoyed and henpecked as he hunched his shoulders and turned back to his uneaten oatmeal that looked like it had congealed into a paste in his bowl. "No," he intoned. And Hermione could clearly see from his body language that he wanted nothing more to do with the subject. But…Hermione could never just let things like this go. If he was ill, he needed to rest!

"Professor, perhaps you should pay a visit to Madame Pomphrey."

Severus sighed and rolled his eyes, lifting his hands to rub his throbbing temples furiously. "Oh, blast it all woman, must you poke your nose into absolutely every one's business? Can't you project your seemingly constant need to meddle in everyone's affairs onto the house elves, or some other seemingly unjustly treated creature other than me?" he growled.

Hermione was sure that he meant to sound intimidating…possibly terrifying. But, Hermione thought while suppressing a chuckle, it was hard to be intimidating when you had a frog in your throat and the tiniest bit of snot running out of your left nostril…

"Well, pardon me, but I just thought perhaps, if you were ill, you'd need someone to cover your classes for the rest of the afternoon."

"I'm. Not. Ill." Severus said through clenched teeth. "I feel perfectly well. Now…leave me be."

Hermione scoffed at this response and crossed her arms in front of her chest. Severus risked a sidelong glance and was amazed at the bold look she had on her face. She really wasn't going to let this one go. With a roll of his eyebrows he made to get up, but the sudden rush of blood from his head to his lower extremities caused his vision to swim before his eyes, and he swayed involuntarily.

"Oh!" Came her bright, cheery voice from his shoulder, and he felt, with a jolt of electricity through his veins, that she had grabbed him unceremoniously around the waist in order to steady him. Gaining a modicum of control back he snarled and shook her off, only managing to sneeze loudly, causing a few of his fellow staff members to look up at the spectacle in alarm.

"Severus, my boy, are you quite all right?" Came the annoyingly knowing voice of Albus Dumbledore from his left, just over Hermione's head.

Severus gritted his teeth and felt his right hand twitch towards his pocketed wand. "Yes. I'm. Fine. Good day." And with that the bat of the dungeons stalked out of the Great Hall, scowling at students and sneezing as he went. Hermione crossed her arms over her chest and smirked as she watched him retreat. Catching Dumbledores' eye she smiled and winked at him, causing him to nod slightly and wink back, his twinkling blue eyes seemingly agreeing with her that-yes, Severus Snape could be quite a pain in the bum when he wanted to be.

Not sick. We'll just see about that, Hermione thought, and with a smile on her face, she sauntered out of the Great Hall, smiling at the students as she went.

…..

Severus reached the dungeons and all but threw the doors to the classroom open in annoyance. That blasted woman had managed to get under his skin yet again-a skill which she seemed to be quite adept at since taking over for Professor Flitwick three years ago. He had expected her to be the same know-it-all brainiac that she'd been when she'd been a student. But Severus had been pleasantly surprised when the woman who turned up at the first staff meeting was not the coltish, young thing he remembered, but a strong and intelligent woman who had, thankfully, grown into her brains…and incidentally her hair.

He sneezed for the third time since he'd been down in the dungeons and with a scowl that could blanch the features of most first and second year students, he pulled out his hankie and blew into it, groaning when his ears popped and his hearing went dead. It was just about then that he felt a pair of hands come from behind him and begin to massage him.

"Whad the bloody hell do you thingh you're doinguh?" he attempted to bellow, but only succeeded in rasping throatily. It was a most un-threatening sound.

"Oh, you just looked so tense there at breakfast, and I thought I'd just pop down and give you a bit of a rub down. Is this enough pressure? Would you prefer a Shiatzu?"

"Biss Grandger!" Came the warning-if a bit stuffy response to her unwelcome ministrations.

"What? Not a massage kind of man? Hmmm, I mustve pegged you wrong. Perhaps you'd prefer a cup of tea? I always find that a strong oolong soothes my sinuses when I've caught a bad cold. My goodness!" Hermione exclaimed as she pressed a hand on his forehead, "You're burning up Professor!"

Severus' eyebrows had now soared so high on his forehead that they nearly reached his hairline. He quickly slapped her hands away and scooted his chair back away from her as he gaped at her in horror. "I cad assure you Biss Grandger, that I ab doh such thingh. I feel perfectly fide. Dow leave me be for Berlin's sake wohban!" he growled thickly, trying very hard not to wipe at his nose which felt distressingly clogged all of a sudden.

Hermione tried to quell the giggle that seemed to be bubbling up within her and she settled for smirking instead. "Fine Professor. I shall leave you be. But here," she said, thrusting a box into his hands. "You may need these later. Or…now come to think of it. You've got a bit just there…on your nose." She reached over and to his complete horror and dismay, wiped at his nose with a pink, fluffy tissue.

"Leave…now," he whispered icily, and with a wave of her hand she left as quickly as she had come, leaving Severus looking distastefully down at the pink polka dotted box of kleenex.

It did not escape Hermione's notice that Severus was not at lunch that afternoon. She chuckled to herself as she munched on a bit of her egg salad sandwich and sipped at her pumpkin juice thoughtfully. Truly she hadn't meant to infuriate him quite so much…but it was just too funny! She just hoped she hadn't gone too far….

TBC

Hope you enjoyed! Anyone need a Kleenex? REVIEW!

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