This story is dedicated to JunoMagic, who authored The Apprentice and the Necromancer. Her 251 chapter tale is done in one thousand word chapters. This story is written in one thousand word chapters, in appreciation of the challenge she set for herself.
The Mediwizard escorted Snape to the lounge chair next to hers. He sat down carefully, putting his cane on the floor within easy reaching distance. Her eyes were closed and her breathing slow and steady. She had already had her dose and her chair was in the reclining position. The blanket was tucked around her legs, so she must have been sleeping for a while.
"We're increasing the dosage by one third," said the young Mediwizard. "According to today's readings, your body has adjusted sufficiently to tolerate it."
"Good," replied Severus, shifting as the magical chair raised his legs and molded itself to his back and thighs to provide maximum comfort. He held out his gnarled hand to accept the mug of steaming brew. The Mediwizard held it as Severus slowly wrapped his fingers around the thick handle and used his other hand to cradle the body of the mug. Steadying his grip, he took a careful sip and schooled his face into an expression of cool composure.
No former Hufflepuff was going to see the former Hogwart's Potions Master grimacing at the taste of a potion.
"Take your time drinking that," commented the Mediwizard, repeating his instructions as he had done every other time in the two weeks Severus had been coming to St. Mungo's for treatment.
Severus waved him off with his free hand. He knew the routine by heart.
One sip per minute. A total of twelve sips.
No, that was the old dosage. Increased by one third, it would now take sixteen sips to empty the mug. The potion would be lukewarm by then. His muscles would begin to relax by the time he took the seventh sip. When he took the tenth sip, the spasms in his hands would ease. Five minutes after the twelfth sip he would be drowsy. Another five to ten minutes, he would fall asleep and the Mediwizard would place a blanket across his legs.
He would awaken in approximately ninety minutes and would feel better.
Feeling better was the definition of a good day. There would be fewer tremors and the ones he had would be less severe than before. The constant nagging ache in his legs and back would diminish, the outright pain in his hands fade, and his balance improve. He'd still need the cane because of the weakness in his legs, but he was in better shape than Granger.
After sip number three, he turned his head and looked at the sleeping woman. Her walking frame was folded and rested against the wall behind her chair.
He hadn't seen her in years. Perhaps ten or more? The last time had been at Lily Potter's wedding to Thomas Longbottom. Severus remembered watching Granger dance with her husband, the ginger haired menace. Her former husband. The Weasel didn't stand by her once she deteriorated.
Minerva told Severus about Granger at their monthly tea at her house in Hogsmeade. After Minerva retired, their monthly tea at his flat in London became tea at her home. It was comfortable after all their years of friendship and a chance to spend time with one of very few people who understood him at all.
Granger started having symptoms two full years before Severus had any. In a perverted way, it made sense. The intent behind the Cruciatus had a significant impact on Post-Cruciatus Syndrome. Bellatrix had used full strength, repeated torture level Cruciatus on Granger. Bella had no intention of letting Granger live, so she didn't hesitate to damage her.
On the other hand, the Dark Lord valued his Potions Master and Spy. When Voldemort punished him, he focused on inflicting pain and avoiding permanent damage. At least until Nagini bit him.
Severus winced as he recalled that moment.
A few years ago, Minerva confided that Granger couldn't maneuver her way around Hogwarts anymore. She gave up teaching Arithmancy and took a position with the Ministry. By the time sixty year-old Hermione Granger-Weasley needed a walking frame, her useless husband had already left her for a healthy thirty-five year-old and started a second family.
According to Minerva, the two Granger-Weasley children still weren't speaking to their father.
No loss there. The man was an idiot and Granger was probably well-shot of him. Hopefully, their children would restrict themselves and only pass on genetic material from the Granger side of the family.
Not that his own marriage had turned out. Stones, glass houses and all that. Catherine had called him a cold-hearted bastard and found someone else. At least Elizabeth and Stephen were still speaking to him. And he saw his grandson with greater regularity than Catherine did.
Severus allowed himself a smirk at the thought. His son and daughter were the only things of true value that he took from his eight years of marriage. He approved of his daughter-in-law and quietly adored his two year-old grandson.
For Tyler, he would put up with the pain of a toddler climbing all over him. For Tyler, he would put all of his energy into using his hands so he could hold Stephen and Megan's son.
A man who thought he would never have a family. Would never even survive The Damn War. He had children who appreciated and loved him. That was his reward for every sacrifice he had ever made.
If this treatment reversed the nerve damage and allowed him to walk and use his hands the way he could ten years ago, he would never complain about another thing in his life.
Well, he might complain, but he wouldn't mean it.
The potion was finished. He placed the empty mug on the table that stood between his lounge chair and Granger's. He relaxed, knowing that the blanket would soon be draped over his legs. Another glance at sleeping Granger and he closed his eyes. He was drowsy now.
She's let her hair start to gray, he thought. Perfectly understandable. When one is in constant pain, maintaining hair color doesn't matter.