"—no desire for company! I'm not even properly dressed!" Severus protested.
Lovegood pulled a chair up to his bed. "Professor McGonagall told me how much you enjoy being read to, so I've brought a story to share."
Minerva hates me, Severus thought, glaring at Lovegood in the hope that she, like most of his visitors had, would take his silence to mean she was unwelcome and leave.
"Miven Splendington, a young woman skilled in the arts of witchery—"
Oh, good gods. It's one of those.
"—lived alone in a cottage just off of Sparks Crossing, which made it easy for her to conduct trade with the inhabitants of Corrisburg Province as they travelled from the burgs of Corris to the villages of Crandendon Pro—"
And full of jarring exposition!
"—vince. The majority of her income came from her sales of the fertilising agent she had invented. The farmers of her area relied upon it, and their wives and daughters depended upon Miven for healing draughts and other, less spoken of, potions."
Severus closed his eyes. Why didn't I die when I had the chance?
"Many of the marriages over which the Regent of Corrisburg—"
Who the hell is that?
"—presided owed their existence to the purchase of one of Miven's special potions, but the witch was not always willing to provide the women of her region with such assistance."
"A Muggle novel, Lovegood? Why did you bring—"
"It isn't Muggle," she replied. "'Miven, please! I must have Drathen!'"
"I am not about to listen to such drivel," Severus insisted hoarsely.
Lovegood's eyes widened. "Does that mean you're ready to get up?"
"'Suetha, has not Drathen proved himself less than faithful to his other paramours? A love potion cannot change a man's true nature, you know.' 'Faugh! Those others—they're not as pretty as I am—I know that he won't leave me.' 'If you're so confident, you hardly need the assistance of a potion.' Miven sighed. Why could none of them see that Drathen was not for marriage? Why could none of them see that he was not for them?" Lovegood paused to look at Severus.
"That was several sentences of 'drivel'. I thought you might like the opportunity to complain."
"Stop mock—mocking me."
"You're in pain." Lovegood said, setting aside her book and rising.
Severus swept his eyes over her figure as she moved towards the door. Merlin, you have been cooped up here too long. "Where are you going?"
"To get a Healer," Lovegood replied, biting her lower lip.
Severus shifted a bit. "Don't. Don't do that. Just . . . just read. No doubt," he continued, clearing his throat and wincing, "Suetha's going to demand the potion because she can pay for it."
Lovegood returned to her chair and sank, Severus couldn't help but notice, gracefully into it. "'I have the money, witch, and I want the potion. Give it to me!' Miven raised her eyebrows at the rudeness of the girl, and Suetha was immediately contrite. 'I apologise for the roughness of my words, but I'm desperately in love, Miven. Why won't you help me?' 'Suetha, your own sister was in here not two months ago asking for the same potion—for the same boy! If the love draught did not work for her, why do you believe it will for you?' 'That's a lie!' 'You know it isn't. That's how you discovered I sold love potions, you foolish girl. Now go. I'm not selling you the po—'"
"Miven's shagging Drathen, herself, isn't she?"
Lovegood arched an eyebrow and offered Severus the book.
He didn't take it. "I can't read aloud. It hurts. You read it—or better yet, summarise the foolish story and leave."
"If you're in pain, why not take a potion?"
"Because I didn't brew it."
"In that case, you really should rest quietly and allow me to read."
"Don't 'handle' me, Lovegood. It isn't charming, and it won't lift my spirits."
"Perhaps not, but you do seem to be feeling better."
"How would you know?"
"Professor McGonagall says you haven't spoken a word to anyone in weeks, so it's a good sign, your talking so much about the story. I must have chosen the right one."
Severus opened his mouth to respond, thought the better of it, and sank back into his pillows.
"Suetha stamped her foot and balled her fists in frustration. 'If you don't sell me the potion, I'll tell Regent Anders that you've been trading with the Outsiders!' 'And he'll have the skin flayed from your back in the public square for lying. No Outsider has breached the defences of Corrisburg Province since we joined with Crandendon and Clatchart to form the Regional Patrol. Get out of my sight, or I'll tell Drathen about your desire to waste your gold.' Tears welled up in Suetha's eyes, and she screamed in frustration as she fled. Miven listened to her angry sobs, straightening in surprise as the noise of them was replaced by the rapid clod of hooves—"
"'Rapid clod of hooves'?"
"A dramatic description, I think," Lovegood answered, continuing to torture him.
Severus watched her mouth as he attempted to ignore her words, briefly noticing its soft fullness before distracting himself by reaching for his water glass. He couldn't help but wonder why Lovegood hadn't yet left, and it occurred to him that he might better question why she'd come. He knew why Potter had. He knew why all of them had, but he had no connection to Lovegood beyond having once taught her and assigned her 'detentions' that had kept her beyond the reach of Amycus Carrow.
I should have killed him for what he—
Severus stopped himself from completing the thought; he didn't want to dwell on the past any more than he wanted to think about his "future."
This is all Potter's fault! No doubt his little speech convinced Lovegood that I'm a heroic figure to whom she owes her gratitude. Why else would she be wasting her ti—
"I don't think you're listening," Lovegood said.
Thus challenged, Severus replied, "Coren Splendington, Miven's cousin, has come around to ask Miven to write some sort of blessing for her to read at Drathen Srandel's marriage to Druetha Cathman, a wedding about which the little shite may or may not be aware, and all because he's got Druetha with child."
Lovegood blinked her impossibly wide, innocent eyes and bounced in her chair. "You are mostly listening, aren't you?" she asked, reading on.
Severus, in an attempt to ignore how that bounce had drawn his attention to Lovegood's tits, concentrated on her story. It was typical drivel: Miven was secretly treating her family's crops with her fertiliser, she had a troubled relationship with her mother, the "witches" of the story's world were looked upon with unease—which was a particularly clichéd bit of drivel but typical of Muggle writing, no matter Lovegood's assertion to the contrary—and Miven had been sent to some sort of magical teacher by her mother when she was seven. Just as Lovegood was about to detail that time period with the character called Prefara Trillath, however, Severus found himself out of patience.
"If you must bore me with this tripe, skip over the particularly painful bits and get to the shagging! It's perfectly obvious to me that Drathen's having it off with Miven."
A little laugh escaped Lovegood, and again, Severus' eyes flew to her mouth as she paged ahead, reading, "'Hello, my love,' Drathen whispered, kissing Miven's long white neck in greeting."
"Ha!" Severus exclaimed, regretting it at once for the pain it caused him.
"'Drathen. Congratulations.' 'Don't be like that. You know I've no choice. Cathman will kill me if I don't marry Druetha.' 'Suetha is likely to kill you if you do.' 'That chit! Really? I had no idea,' the tall, dark-haired man said. 'Interest—'"
"No, it truly isn't!" Severus interrupted, wishing that Lovegood would leave so that he could have a wank. "How can you read this rubbish? You Sorted Ravenclaw."
"'—ing.' 'Don't be an idiot, Drathen! You can't mean to have the girl after you're wed,' Miven said. 'I suppose I shouldn't, love, but you know me—' 'Yes, better than I should.' Drathen took Miven's hands in his and pulled her closer. 'And will you still wish to know me after I am wed?' Miven smiled. It was difficult not to when Drathen was staring at her with a look of unmistakable desire, but she had enough sense to say, 'I won't. It wouldn't be appro—'"
"Enough, Lovegood! Enough!"
"But you wanted to get to the shagging," she replied, leaning towards him, which caused her decolletage to become more pronounced.
Fuck, Severus thought, massaging his throat.
Lovegood rose at once to pick up a jar from the bedside table.
"What do you think you're doing?"
"This is a pain-relieving balm. I'm going to apply it."
"You most certainly are not."
"I am unless you stop me."
"Nice thing to say to an invalid," retorted Severus, leaning away from Lovegood's looming . . . hand.
Without further preamble, she slid her hand under the bandage at his throat and began stroking his wounded skin with the balm.
Severus shivered at her touch. "Stop."
Lovegood's strokes slowed and lengthened as she turned her head towards him. "Why? You know you don't want me to."
"I do. I do want you to—"
"Take care of this?" Lovegood asked, sliding her free hand down the coverlet to rest it upon Severus' cock.
"I thought so. 'Invalids' sometimes require special care."
Severus wasn't sure how they'd moved from storytelling to cock-stroking, but words failed him as Lovegood's fingers wrapped around him and began mirroring the motions of her balm-laden ones. Groaning, he reached for her and pulled her into a kiss, gasping as she slid her tongue into his mouth.
What the fuck are you doing? he asked himself, but as the coverlet disappeared and Lovegood replaced it with her body, he couldn't be arsed to care.
Lovegood's tits, warm against his chest, felt lovely; he knew they'd feel magnificent bare in his hands.
Buttons, he thought, reaching for them. Must undo the butt—
"Oh, my! Oh, I'm so—excuse me!"
"Damn it!" Severus shouted, as Lovegood giggled.
"Well, I see the balm's working," she said, sliding to the floor.
Torn between lust and mortification, Severus demanded, "Where are you going?"
Lovegood replaced the coverlet. "I expect the medi-witch will summon the Healer, and I don't think you'll want to be wearing me when she arrives."
Severus' cock wilted some at the thought, but he wasn't willing to give up on a fuck as easily as Lovegood apparently was. "Lock. The. Door."
"St. Mungo's' doors can only be locked by staff, not patients or visitors. You know that."
Severus allowed Lovegood to believe that he did. "But . . . what about the story?"
"Don't you mean what about the sex, Professor Snape?"
"I'm not your professor anymore!" Severus shouted, as the door opened.
"And a good thing, too, so I hear." Healer Bledsoe turned to Lovegood. "How was—is he?"
Racy old cow, thought Severus, as Lovegood replied, "Eager for a happy ending, I think."
"Good sign, that," said Healer Bledsoe, as she swished her wand over Severus.
"I am sitting right here."
Runes streamed into the air from Bledsoe's wand as she quipped, "Past time you weren't."
"I'd best be going."
"Yes?" she asked, peeking around Bledsoe's diagnostic charm.
"Are you . . . will you—leave the book."
"Oh! Thank you for reminding me." Lovegood Summoned the book and pocketed it. "Goodbye."
"You can't just—I know what you're trying to do, you little tea—"
"Oh, dear. You two do need a moment, don't you?"
"Winding me up. Taking the book. You're just trying to make me . . . talk." Flushing, Severus crossed his arms and glared at nothing, only to start when he felt Lovegood's fingers brush his cheek.
"No," she said quietly, "I'm just trying to get you up."
Severus bit back the desire to remind Lovegood that she already had and looked at her in confusion. "Why should you care if I simply rot here?"
"I shouldn't care about you at all, I suppose, any more than you should care about my silly little book of drivel—but I do, and you do, so if you want more, you'll just have to 'recover' and come after me."
"I'll just ask one of the medi-witches to purchase the book for me, you blackmailing—"
"Stop that," Lovegood said, with unexpected firmness. "I'm not afraid of you, Severus."
Severus liked the way that his name rolled off Lovegood's tongue, light and sweet, but he couldn't bring himself to say so. "You always were daft, weren't you?"
Lovegood sighed and retrieved the book. "Drathen grabbed Miven by the shoulders and shook her. 'I could make you love me!' Suddenly, he cried out in pain and released her. As the skin began peeling from his reddened palms, Miven said quietly, 'Thou burnest with thine own pain, but you shall not make it mine.'"
"Are you threatening me now?" Severus asked, incredulous.
Lovegood ignored him. "'I am a witch and not without resources.'"
"What does that signify?"
"Just what it sounds like. I can take care of myself, and so can you."
"You . . . you know nothing about me!"
"I know that you Sorted Slytherin."
"And that's relevant why?"
"A Slytherin should be capable of doing more than hiding, shouldn't he?"
"Hiding? I'm not hi—I'm not a coward!"
Lovegood shrugged and walked to the door. "Then stop acting like one."
"We're not finished here! Lovegood, don't you dare walk away from me!"
Without turning, she asked, "Why shouldn't I?"
"Because . . . because you haven't told me the bloody book's title!"
Lovegood opened and stepped through the door, nudging the stopper under it before finally turning to regard him. "I can't do that."
"Why the fuck not?"
"Because there isn't one," Lovegood said, as she began to walk away. "I haven't finished writing the story, yet."