A/N... So, I'm sure if you are still reading this, you probably thought I had abandoned it. And for that I am so sorry. Between being sick (having gallbladder issues), and a special needs child at home (he is autistic), I just didn't get this done. Hopefully you will never have this long a wait. And on that note, I probably can't promise updates nearly as often as I used to... but I will do my best. Thank you if you are still reading and enjoying this story.
This has only been lightly betaed, and a big thank you to araeofsomething for pinch-hitting at the last minute. Anything still wrong with it is my own fault for changing it once again after I got it back from her.
As always, nothing belongs to me. It belongs to JKR, and I just like to play in her sandbox sometimes.
Hermione slowly started to rouse as she felt a slight tickling sensation on her cheek. Although she was exhausted, and her eyes were not totally focusing, she could just make out the black hair and clothing of Professor Snape. She blearily eyed Snape, and could have sworn she saw a slight pink tinge to the normally dour potions master's cheeks. Interesting. That thought quickly left her as she finally remembered the reason said potions master was in her quarters. She very carefully pulled away from Ares and sat up in bed, watching him cautiously to make sure she did not wake him. After assuring herself that he was still sound asleep, she followed Professor Snape into her sitting room.
"I know you are tired, but time is of the essence." Professor Snape reached into his robes and pulled out two dark-tinted vials. "The first dose needs to be administered as soon as possible, and the second dose twenty-four hours later."
Hermione nodded her head in understanding, then frowned as a thought suddenly occurred to her. "How does it taste?" she asked curiously. Noticing his look of confusion, she continued, "Babies usually will spit it out if it tastes bad, so...," she stared at the vials, "does it taste bad?"
"I would expect it is not that palatable considering the ingredients, not that I have ever tasted it. It is made for efficacy, not taste."
She tapped her fingers on the side of the chair, deep in thought. "Can it be mixed with food? I think if it tastes that bad, he will probably spit it out. But I could put it in his bottle if it won't adversely affect the potion."
"Mixing it should be fine, although I have never had experience administering it to such a small child."
Professor Snape handed her the vials, and started to walk towards the door. He paused in reaching for the handle when she spoke.
"Wait—," she exclaimed as she walked towards him. "I know it,s late, but with Madame Pomfrey still gone, could you stay? I...," she paused and bit her lip nervously, "I don't want to be alone until I'm sure he is okay. Please, Professor?"
His eyebrows rose momentarily, before he schooled his expression once again. "Very well." He walked back into the room, sitting down in the closest chair.
She walked into the kitchen and pulled a bottle out of the fridge. Normally she would boil water the muggle way since she didn't like to use magic on food, but opted for a spell since time was of the essence. After quickly casting a warming charm, she poured the potion into the bottle and headed back towards the bedroom.
Lifting him carefully from the bed, she carried him into the sitting room and sat on the sofa. As she touched the nipple to his mouth, she stroked his cheek to rouse him enough to eat. Eyes still shut, he opened his mouth and began to suck on the bottle. Hermione softly twirled his hair as he ate, stopping when she suddenly remembered her guest. Her cheeks flushed as she glanced towards the Professor in the chair across from her.
"Would you like some tea, Professor? He should be finished in just a few minutes?"
The professor nodded affirmatively, and Hermione redirected her gaze once again to Ares. He had now almost finished the bottle, and was starting to fall back asleep. Hermione started to run her hand through his curls as the bottle slowly started to slip from his from his mouth. As her hand drifted downward, she frowned as it reached his forehead.
"Should he still be this hot?" she whispered; a concerned look on her face.
He reached his hand over towards the sleeping infant and lightly touched the baby's forehead, and instantly he grimaced. Hermione watched him closely as his expression went from his usual look of indifference to a look she had seen commonly on his face during the war... weariness.
"No, there should be no fever if he received the potion before he developed the actual blisters. Did you check him for pox before administering the potion?" His black eyes bored into hers as he questioned her.
Hermione frowned as she glanced down at her brother. "No, I didn't check him. I was trying so hard to get him to stop crying, and I fell asleep in the process." She carefully unsnapped the snaps on the long sleeper he was wearing, then gasped slightly as she saw the small pustules on his stomach.
"How does this complicate his recovery?" she asked quietly.
"It should only prolong his healing for a few days, and then he should recovery quickly since he has already been given the potion." The professor rubbed one hand through his hair in a nervous gesture. "The biggest obstacle is that he can't have any more pain potion now that he has the Dragon pox potion in his system. The ingredients in the pain and fever potion could counteract some of the ingredients in the Dragon pox potion and negate the healing properties. And there really hasn't been enough studies done on the effect of Muggle fever reducers. I'm afraid that you will have to use cold compresses for the next 48 hours."
Hermione's face paled as she whispered in despair, "Forty-eight hours?" She looked down at Ares and softly stroked his damp curls. "It's just—I'm so tired. Madame Pomfrey won't be back for another day and a half and I—" she trailed off as she ran a hand through her hair in frustration. "What if I fall asleep and his fever spikes again?"
"Since Madame Pomfrey is still away, I will accompany you to the infirmary." Hermione started to speak, but he put his hand towards her, discouraging her attempt at interrupting. "The infirmary has a large supply of compresses, along with any medical supplies that could be needed." Noticing the fretful expression on Hermione's face, he continued. "Madame Pomfrey has not had an assistant or apprentice in several years, and I assisted her during the outbreak. Although the progression of Dragon pox is slightly different in very young patients, I'm sure that between the two of us it will be fine."
Hermione nodded, her shoulders relaxing as she processed the words the professor had spoken. Although Professor Snape had always been a stern teacher, there was something comforting knowing that he would be with her and she wouldn't have to face this alone.
Hermione placed the sleeping infant on the small bed in the infirmary and sat in the nearby chair. As she gently stroked his arm, she watched the potions master gather the needed medical items from the stock room. She was amazed by how efficiently he gathered the compresses and various medical items, wandlessly and silently summoning items from top shelves into a neat pile beside him. Within minutes, he was at her side with several cold compresses.
"These already have a cooling charm applied to them, and it should only need to be recast in twenty-four hours. The same time as the second dose of the potion." He handed her the small strips of cold cloth and wearily sat down beside her.
Ares stirred restlessly, his chubby little arms jerking slightly as she placed the cool cloth on his fore head. Hermione watched as he turned towards her and began to suck softly on his thumb. After several minutes, his breathing slowed down and evened out, and she knew that he was back in a deep sleep once again. Placing the back of her hand on his check, she noticed that his fever was starting to break. She glanced around the bed, looking for a thermometer, before she quickly realised that a spell was probably used in the Wizarding world. Although she had learned several healing spells and potions when she had been on the run with Harry and Ron, she had still brought a thermometer in her beaded bag. She had just started to turn away from Ares when she noticed a faint green glow above his head.
"His fever has broken." The professor tucked his wand back into his robes, and pointed towards the faint green above Ares' head. "A red glow would have indicated higher than the normal range, although I am unable to tell the specific number with this spell," he quietly indicated.
"What spell is that? I don't think we ever learned that particular spell. I think I only really ever used Episkey." Her eyes widened in curiosity as she turned to face her former teacher.
"The incantation is Calor. It is Latin for heat or fever. Most basic medical spells are Latin. I'm not surprised you didn't learn it. Most healing spells aren't taught unless you are in a healer apprentice program." He spoke methodically, reminding her of his classroom lectures.
"How do you know so much about healing?" Hermione asked cautiously, not sure if she was crossing a boundary by asking him such a personal question.
The professor gave her a curious glance before answering. "It was after the first war, and I finally had enough time to further my education. I started teaching at Hogwarts with just a basic mastery in potions, but I had realised during the war that I was quite inefficient at healing my own injuries. A basic knowledge of healing spells would have been quite useful for not only myself, but in creating new potions that could work along-side the spells."
"Do you think you could teach me some of those spells?" Hermione chewed on her lip nervously, intuiting that she probably shouldn't have been so blunt with the professor. She hurried to explain, "Well, I just thought it might be useful since I will be raising Ares." A small grin spread across her face as she continued, "You know, to heal the multitude of bumps and bruises he will get as he grows."
He looked at her thoughtfully. "I'm sure Madam Pomfrey would be much more qualified to teach those spells." As he noticed her look of disappointment, he continued. "But considering the amount of time we will be here, it would help pass these long hours."
"Thank you, Sir."
Hermione lowered her wand, stifling a yawn, as she flopped down beside Ares' bed. "I didn't realise how sore your arm could get just doing wand movements." She put the wand aside and rotated her wrist several times to prevent it from being stiff in the morning.
Professor Snape looked at her appraisingly as he flicked his wand quickly at the sleeping infant. "His temperature is holding steady," he spoke softly as he took the seat across from Hermione. "He should be fine for several hours; you should sleep while he is asleep."
Hermione nodded. "Sleep while the baby sleeps, or so I've always been told." She smiled at Professor Snape and quietly transfigured a spare cloth into a pillow. "Thank you, Professor."
He nodded affirmatively towards her, watching her get settled. As her eyes slowly drifted shut, he took a minute to study her features. Adulthood had finally tamed her bushy hair into long ringlets, and all traces of baby fat, not that she had ever had much, were gone from her face. She was an adult now... a woman... in both physical appearance and emotional maturity. It had amazed him how quickly she had learned the healing spells, and what a good conversationalist she had been. She had truly seemed interested in what he was teaching, and she had even smiled several times during the discussion of the medical spells, even when he had to repeat the movements, or offer more in the way of an explanation.
He shook his head as he thought about her student years. He really had never given her a chance as a student. She was always the know-it-all friend of Harry Potter, and for that alone, he couldn't stand her. But now that he was getting to know her as an adult, he was surprised to find out how much they actually had in common. He could easily see becoming friends with this young woman, and as he started to become drowsy himself, he easily imagined having even more with her.
Snape rubbed his eyes as he settled into the seat across from Ares, but still watching her as she drifted into a deeper sleep.