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The Right Place & The Right Time

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To: leni_jess
From: Your Secret Santa


Title: The Right Place & The Right Time
Author: odogoddess
Pairing: Snape/Millicent
Summary: Millicent reflects on her situation as she cares for the Headmaster during his recovery after the final battle
Rating: NC-17
Length: ~12,290
Warnings: possibly disturbing or triggering content for some re: abortion & miscarriage & discussion of same. Possibly dub-con to some.
Author's notes: I do put them through the wringer here, but they will be better and happier after. I swear it. I chose your prompt: Snape/Millicent: postwar, one might be in a position to help the other, or to review the past and his/her view of the other. I tried to keep Snape angry for you, leni_jess, but he would insist on getting a break from being irascible now and again. Hopefully it won't ruin your reading experience. My lovely betas shall remain nameless for the nonce, but they worked swiftly and uncomplainingly under pressure, for which I thank them. A very Happy & Smutty Holiday to all!

 

* * *

 

Milly used a sticking charm to affix the napkin to the thin, bony chest.

 

The strong, lean fingers affixed the Prefect's badge to her chest and she actually felt she was taller when Professor Snape stepped back.

'Some of the other Heads of House choose to owl this emblem of achievement to their chosen students. That is not the Slytherin way. We keep to the older ways in order to preserve our world's traditions.'

Her father smiled proudly, even as she was mildly ashamed at her Head of House seeing their run-down hovel. Still, it wasn't as if it was their fault. Her father had been a Hufflepuff. Her mother had been a Muggle. In the end, not achieving his NEWTs had condemned Gordon Bulstrode to the busy life of a supply clerk at St Mungo's, a decent job but providing scant pay. Her mother had supplemented his income with her work as a Muggle secretary, but her mother had also succumbed to a severe Muggle flu just before Millicent started her 2nd year. Millicent fully intended on doing as well as she could in her NEWTs and had already approached the school's mediwitch about apprenticing with her. Pomfrey had suggested she speak to her Head of House about scheduling her as an Infirmary assistant during her last year, a move that would enable her to gain needed experience and see if she truly was suited to such an avocation. If she did well and enjoyed her given tasks, then Pomfrey would agree to take her on as an apprentice.

 

'I'm sure you'll be able to do this on your own soon, sir.'

The evasive and despairing gaze in those dark eyes made her stomach twist. She did not know what she could possibly say to make this better for him, but she knew how sorely his current inability to move, to speak, must weigh on him.

'You only just took the elixir yesterday,' she tried to say reassuringly. 'Professor Slughorn said the nerve regeneration might take a few days--'

She faltered as his eyes closed now, tightly, shutting her out.

'Sorry.' It was a reflex word now, coming on the heels of this expression, which was one he did not often wear, but to which she was growing accustomed. She did not know what else to say, though, when he shut her out. Usually it was when she dealt with his toileting needs, something that had been mildly appalling for them both at first, if for different reasons.

Milly had studied anatomy so she was well aware of their form and function, but had never, for some reason, considered that she might be privy to seeing the genitalia of someone with which she was familiar, such as her own Head of House. She had to get past it, though, she knew, if she was ever to become a mediwitch.

She was lucky to have Pomfrey's backing. Her housemates that were not moneyed and needed to find employment but did not have family connections were having a very difficult time finding anyone willing to accept a Slytherin after Voldemort’s destruction and the dismantling of the Death Eater-influenced government.

Millicent sighed. This extended care of the Headmaster might be embarrassing at times, but she did not shy from it and she was very lucky to be gaining this experience. Besides, who else could do it? Who else would choose to?

There were too many who wished him dead, despite potty Potter's declaration of his innocence. There were no Aurors the new Minister trusted, although, at least, he trusted Potter's word about Snape's true allegiance. Still, this meant he had not been able to be seen to in St Mungo's, which was fully stretched as it was. Nor was the school safe, as they discovered after a gang of Fourth year Gryffindors -- that did not care about Potter's declarations of the Headmaster's innocence and were more concerned with avenging the many detentions they had suffered under Snape's rule -- had tried to hex the helpless Snape as he lay unconscious in an Infirmary bed whilst Pomfrey and Millicent had been momentarily away gathering needed potions and supplies.

Upon hearing of the incident, the concerned Malfoys had offered their assistance and the use of one of their homes for his recovery, but they were being watched like hawks by the Ministry, mistrusted, and the likelihood of his recovery being disturbed by an ambitious member of Magical Law Enforcement was too great.

Surprisingly, Potter had stepped in, professing a concern for Snape that Milly had difficulty believing, but which Draco had assured her was genuine. She had only been convinced when Potter accepted their word or Mrs Malfoy's word, at least, about Millicent's ability to care for the Headmaster without supervision.

At first, the feckless hero of the hour had not been sure, but when he had learnt all that nursing Snape would entail and discovered that Milly was a well-trained assistant Mediwitch who would not shrink from having to bathe and see to an very ill man, not to mention utterly loyal to her Head of House, Potter had the intelligence to concede that it was more than he could do. He did, however, open his spell-protected London home to Snape and Milly, and it was his house elf that provided their food and saw to the laundry and linens.

She had been worried, at first, that he'd be sticking his swelled head in at every opportunity, perhaps even gloating at the Headmaster's misfortune, but the lucky little pillock had, surprisingly, left everything to her devising once she had agreed to see to Snape's care and recovery. No doubt he was busy sucking up to the Ministry and doing press interviews, he and his little worshipful gang of Gryffindors. Heroes they were called in the Prophet, a publication she would have avoided, but for Snape who seemed to like her reading it to him during tea. She had to admit the ancient house elf did provide a wonderfully comforting tea, with proper scones and butter and fish paste sandwiches. He even provided good hearty beef broth 'for the Professor' who could not swallow except with difficulty, so was on a liquid diet.

His name was Kreacher, Potter had told her, and the home had been left to him by his godfather or some such. No doubt he had a grander place somewhere, some manor or other. She had heard his relatives lived in a nice area and he doubtless kept it for himself.

This place, on the other hand, was a dark and draughty pile of bricks and mortar, full of creaking wood within. Grimmauld Place he had called it, and she agreed with the sentiment.

Still, in the cosy room he had shown them to a fire was banked in the fireplace which Kreacher tended, warming it thoroughly. There was a window which Snape studiously did not look out of, even when she opened the curtains and a door that led to the en suite which connected to her own smaller room via another door. She kept the doors open when she slept to ensure she could hear Snape, who had a bell pull dangling near one cheek which he could ring by biting it and turning his head since he could not currently call for assistance.

The Headmaster had lain for too long in a puddle of his own blood of which he had lost far too much and what little had remained to him was clogged with snake venom and a bit of the anti-venom he had been ingesting with his morning tea since the start of term. Since he had been bitten quite late at night or very early in the morning depending on whom one asked, this meant the amount of anti-venom in his system had been too low to work as effectively as he might have hoped.

He had been spared his life, but the blood loss had badly affected his circulation and the snake venom had badly affected his nervous system, leaving him temporarily paralysed until a specialised form of nerve regeneration elixir was brewed, based on a sample of his poisoned blood. It had taken Slughorn several days to brew and, as he had informed the already aware Snape, the nerves most affected, those in his hands and feet, would take a few days to repair, whereas the nerves closer to his torso would heal faster.

In the interim, his limbs were cool and unresponsive and needed brisk, regular massage to assist the circulation, and although he could feel his arms and legs, he could do no more than twitch them, and had lost all sensation in his hands and feet. He seemed to lie on the bed, but was actually being supported by an ultra-fine layer of air, a modified hover charm that helped him from developing pressure sores due to his immobility. The venom had also paralysed his vocal cords.

'Please try to eat something.'

His breathing grew louder, his lips compressed, and finally he snapped his eyes open and gazed across the room. He did not look at her, but he eventually nodded, wincing slightly as the bandages at his neck pulled on the still-healing wounds they covered.

'Thank you,' she said, quite sincerely as she first gave him a spoonful of stomach-settling solution, which made him screw up his face, but that he managed to swallow without choking. She was grateful he was able to do that much, hating the thought of having to magically impel potion or food down his gullet although she knew the charm that would accomplish it.

'Sorry it tastes so bad,' she whispered, as she dipped the spoon into the soup and offered him some to take the taste from his mouth.

He swallowed it cautiously, fighting not to wince. Soup was really the only thing he could manage and even that seemed too much for him at times. It hurt her to watch, but he really needed better nourishment. She made a mental note to ask Potter to have Slughorn send some nutritive potion. Snape seemed even more painfully thin than when she'd first been entrusted to his care, even though she had finally stopped the alarming bouts of regurgitation he had, at first, been prone to by giving him the stomach-settling solution before each meal.

The little vial of solution was very familiar to them both.

 

'Yes, Madam Pomfrey?'

The mediwitch's cheek twitched, but she did not otherwise display any outward distaste in dealing with the Headmaster, although Millicent had heard the witch felt personally betrayed by his newfound position for some reason.

'You wished a report on Miss Bulstrode's condition.'

'Indeed,' his dark gaze flicked to where she sat on an Infirmary bed, then back to Pomfrey. 'Intestinal flu?'

'No, indeed, Headmaster.' Pomfrey glanced at her, but Millicent could feel the heat growing in her cheeks and thought she might vomit yet again. 'My assistant is suffering morning sickness.'

This had rocked him, she knew. She could see it in the sudden stillness of his features, then the frown and look of disgust. Somehow, Millicent sensed it was not with her, although she could tell by Pomfrey's expression that she felt otherwise.

'Have you determined paternity?'

The Mediwitch shook her head. 'The girl will not allow it.'

'Hardly a girl, one would say.'

Pomfrey looked outraged.

Milly found her voice. 'I'm 18, Ma'am. He's right. And the father was of age, as well.'

'In that case, this is no longer my concern,' he said decisively. 'I had intended on issuing a quarantine if it was the flu. Since it is not, I will leave you both to deal wi--'

'One of your own appointed favourites might well have molested this girl!'

Before Milly could open her mouth, Snape sneered and stepped closer to the Mediwitch, causing her to pale.

'As your patient has pointed out, she is not a girl. She is a witch capable of making her own choices, even if they are thoughtless and, if you'll pardon the execrable pun, ill-conceived. Now if you'll excuse me...'

 

She remembered now the owl she had received the next morning just before breakfast, carrying a phial of specially brewed stomach-settling solution. It had been formulated to be safe for pregnant witches and would have taken hours to brew; Slughorn, she knew, would not exert himself for anyone save one of his 'favourites.' The carefully expressionless look Snape had given her, along with the slight nod he had disguised as dipping his head toward his cup, had made her run from the Slytherin table, not from the need to vomit, but in tears of remorse.

She had not been sure if she was more touched or ashamed. That he had clearly spent some of his own very busy time to brew her a potion was touching it was true, but when she had thought of how very disappointed he must be with her, Millicent had wept harder still.

 

She knew it was not her fault; there was no blame in being naive and experience proved a brutal teacher. Amycus Carrow was a handsome devil, and he knew it. She was of age and he knew that, as well. He did not pick underage girls for his conquests, although she did not know that until she had told him of her predicament. She had not known he was a purist until then, either.

 

'Be rid of it. It would have no place in the new order, any road.'

'But--' she had stopped herself, looked at this handsome devil more closely and silently condemned her own stupidity.

His attentions had not been proof of his indifference to her blood status, nor of his caring for her. He had played her for a fool for his own selfish interests. He'd been slumming, as her beloved mother would have said.

The knowledge had burnt and she had decided then and there that he would not have the satisfaction of ever seeing her even the tiniest bit upset over his contemptible behaviour.

'You don't need money, do you?'

She shook her head. 'No. I can see to it.'

He seemed relieved. 'Good. In that case, I'll leave it to you. No need to get anyone else involved, save that Mediwitch, but then she's got a privacy oath. You didn't tell your parents? You don't have to, being of age.'

She shook her head again, and the wicked devil smiled. It brought a pang to her heart, reminding her of the night when he'd smiled like that at her and she had thought she was a lucky witch to catch his eye when there were so many other slimmer, prettier witches with purer blood he could grace with that grin. He stroked the back of his fingers to her cheek and she had made herself smile back.

'Smart girl. I like that in a witch.'

He winked at her and waved his wand at his office door and she had exited with aplomb, heading straight for the loo where she had vomited and vomited before curling up on the floor clutching at the phial Snape had sent.

 

Snape turned his face now, slightly, away from the spoon, indicating he did not wish to eat any more. Millicent frowned. Not even half the soup was gone and he lay back, damp with perspiration from the effort he had made and trembling with pain and fatigue.

His normally sallow skin looked grey to her, and she suffered a sudden irrational fear that he would die if she did not find some way to get more nourishment in him. The entirety of his care had been placed in her hands and she felt the responsibility keenly. Plus, he was her Head of House, a beloved figure who she admired now more than ever, more than even when she had learnt he, too, was a half-blood.

It had made it easier for her to ignore the slights and insinuative remarks from the blood purists in her house. Sometimes she had been able to shame Draco and even knock the spiteful Pansy from her prissy post by reminding them of this fact, although nothing kept the Parkinson princess off her high perch for long.

That her beloved Head of House, a half-blood, had become the Headmaster had been a point of great personal pride to her, especially in light of the Pure-blood bias that had intensified her last year.

She and her father had been questioned at the Ministry about her Muggle mother the week before school began. Milly had been forced to watch her beloved father -- who she knew had adored her mother to the point he could never marry another -- declare to the Ministry Inquisitor he had been 'trapped' into marrying a Muggle.

Gordon Bulstrode had wept over his 'misfortune' and insisted he had made the best of it and raised his daughter to be an honour to her illustrious house even if she was just a Half-blood.

Milly had then had to be silent and seemingly appreciative when informed by the odious, simpering cow, Umbridge, that she should be grateful that she had a Pure-blood wizard for a father and that she was lucky her mother was gone.

When they'd returned home, her father had hugged a photo of his dead wife to his bosom and shook and she had sicked up and, after waving away the mess with her wand and conjuring a handkerchief, she had held him as they both cried.

'Make her proud,' he'd said as they rode the Knight bus to Hogsmeade the week after and she fully intended to, along with her Head of House.

She still treasured the note Snape had sent her the day after her hearing. It had been simple, but eloquent.

I am pleased that you are returning to Hogwarts to complete your education; it would have been difficult finding an acceptable replacement for Prefect. Moreover, and although I am no longer your Head of House, it is with pride that I anticipate your eventual placement as a fully trained Mediwitch at St Mungo's or some other venerable establishment, perhaps even at Hogwarts itself.

He was looking at her strangely, she saw now, and then realised she had been gently and methodically stroking a hand through his clean, if lank, hair. It seemed to only possess body if she brushed it thoroughly, something he tended to shy from.

'You've got visitors later,' she reminded him, helping cover her actions. 'I'll give you a bath now. It'll help you feel a bit more like yourself.'

His cheeks reddened, but he did not look away, and she smiled before turning to pick up his tray and take it from the room.

 

* * *

 

Milly did not levitate him to the bathtub for baths, feeling it would be even more indignity than the poor man could take, so she filled a basin with warm, sudsy water and brought flannels and some towels to the bed.

She used her wand to close the curtains and cast a locking charm on the door and a nusquam perturbo on the fireplace to keep anyone from disturbing them. Milly did this automatically, simply putting herself in her patient's place and knowing she would appreciate this sort of diligence in similar circumstances.

It was difficult enough on the man, she knew, to be in such a situation, much less have one of his ex-students witness it, but at least she was Slytherin. Slytherins took care of their own.

 

'Welcome to Slytherin. I am your Head of House. You will hear me called many things in the next seven years by the other Houses' students, but I expect you to address me, always, as Sir. Professor Snape is also acceptable. Professor will do in a pinch and only if a matter is urgent. Any other form of address will earn you loss of privileges or worse, detention. Is that understood?'

'Yes, sir,' came the chorus of replies from the small group of First Years of which she had been a part.

'I am pleased to be entrusted with your care. It is a responsibility I do not accept lightly. I may be a half-blood, but I am also Slytherin and proud of my house. You also have been sorted into this ancient and venerable House and there is one tenet I set before all others that I expect you to not merely hold to, but to firmly believe in from now and to the end of your days and it is this: True Slytherins take care of their own, regardless of blood.

'There are many meanings behind this and you will come to ponder each and every one over time. What this means to you now is that you will never be without resource. You have bonds of blood to your family and as a Slytherin, you are now bound to your house mates, your second family, regardless of lineage. If you or your family believes otherwise, you are free to address your concerns to the Headmaster or even to the Board of Governors. You would most appropriately address your concerns to Lucius Malfoy, as he oversees matters pertaining to Slytherin.

'There are six Prefects to each house - fifth year, sixth year and seventh year. Each has been personally chosen by me and each is aware of his or her responsibility, especially in regard to younger students.

You may turn to any of the Prefects for assistance of any kind. If the problem you present is too much for them to handle, they will then present it to me and I will do my utmost to provide you with appropriate assistance.

There is no problem you may have or situation you may find yourself in that is too large or shameful to be dealt with.'

 

She slid the flannel from his surprisingly muscular thigh to his bony hip and he gasped.

'Sorry,' she said softly, focusing on dipping and rinsing out the flannel. She knew his limbs were sore, thanks to blood pooling in them, creating bruising which was slowly easing as he healed. Milly strove to be gentle as she washed him, but he had to be cleansed, no matter how painful, and cleansing charms were not wholly sufficient to the task. She would not allow an infection to take root in his skin or still-healing limbs.

Nor would she allow one to take root beneath his foreskin, which she carefully peeled back now before gently, but thoroughly washing his bared glans. Lack of proper hygiene there could cause various distasteful infections, something she would not countenance. Pomfrey had taught her not to be missish regarding appropriate patient care, no matter how discomfiting.

She slipped his foreskin back into position as she washed the shaft of his penis, then carefully held it up and out of the way with one hand as she washed his rather hefty, if currently somewhat shrivelled scrotum with the other.

Milly carefully did not look up at him. The first time she had bathed him and had to do this, she had been explaining her actions as she did them, something Pomfrey had informed her could be helpful when dealing with an immobile patient who might otherwise question what was being done, when she chanced a glance at him. The shame and despair she had glimpsed in his dark gaze had nearly made her drop the flannel and bury her face in her hands.

So she now focused on her actions when bathing him, unaware she was softly crooning an old lullaby under her breath. She slid the flannel along both sides of his hairy groin, ensuring the crevices were cleansed. Then she set aside the flannel before picking up one of the towels and gently patting dry what she'd just washed, as she had done with every other section of his body as she'd bathed him.

Still humming to herself, Milly carefully sprinkled herbal talcum under his arms, and along his groin before carefully levitating his arms and upper torso and slipping a fresh nightshirt on and smoothing it down along his back. She laid him back amongst his pillows and slid the bedclothes up to his chest.

'I'll wash your hair tomorrow. For now that's enough and I hope you feel a bit better.'

He merely blinked, scarcely glancing in her direction and not meeting her eyes.

She wished she knew what to say or do to make him feel better, wished he was not so ashamed, and felt abashed of the little voice in her head that insisted on pointing out he had nothing of which to be ashamed. She was there to care for him, not ogle him, even if she might personally feel he was quite dishy.

Milly sighed and indicated the basin and towels. 'I'm going to deal with this.'

She waved her wand, cancelling her previous spells. 'Give me a bell if you need me for anything. If you fall asleep, I'll wake you before Draco and his mum come.'

 

* * *

 

'Is this the best room Potter could find?'

Draco's voice was as whiny and annoying as Milly remembered. He had found fault with nearly everything about the house.

'It's his London home, or so I heard,' she relayed, offering Snape a sip of tea, grateful the Malfoys did not seem to mind having the old house elf provide the refreshments. Mrs Malfoy had been mother and poured everyone a cuppa. 'He chose this room because it wouldn't involve so many stairs and my room is right through past the en suite, so I can hear the Professor if he should need me.'

Narcissa smiled, nodding. 'Very well considered. Don't you agree, Draco?'

The thin-faced boy nodded, still scowling, but lifted his cup of tea and said nothing.

'And how is the recovery coming along? You do seem a bit thin, Severus dear.'

Milly smiled. 'Professor Slughorn finished brewing the nerve-regeneration potion and dropped it off yesterday.' She looked down at Snape, the fondness evident in her expression. She laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. 'It should be just a few more days before he's able to walk and talk and eat more.'

'That's wonderful!'

'That reminds me, I'd be grateful, Mrs Malfoy, if you could let Professor Slughorn know I would like more nutritive potion.'

'Of course, dear. I'd be happy to.' Narcissa seemed genuinely pleased to be able to help in some way. 'If there is anything I can do I'd be delighted.'

'In fact, there might be something your son can do.' Milly hesitated, and then admitted, 'I'm afraid I still haven't been able to afford a copy of Potion Titration and I'm going to need it to start my apprenticeship later this summer. I was wondering if Draco might have a copy I could borrow? I know his Advanced Potions project involved demonstrating how to measure the concentration of Veritaserum.'

'Draco?' He left off looking about the room in seeming disgust and focused on his mother. Milly wondered if he had even heard any of what she'd said. 'You can let Miss Bulstrode borrow your copy of Potion Titration.'

It was not a question and Draco merely inclined his head. 'Of course, Mother.'

Narcissa nodded, pleased, then turned to Snape. 'So will you be returning to the school, Severus? Or do you have other plans?'

Milly looked down, feeling the tension in his shoulders and noted the pained expression.

'I don't think he's thought that far, Mrs Malfoy.'

He looked up at her and then nodded. Narcissa looked thoughtful and sipped at her tea.

'For now, we're just glad to have use of this home,' Milly noted. 'Until he can defend himself, the school isn't safe, nor was St Mungo's.'

'What's Potter got to do with all this anyway?' All eyes turned toward the rather sullen-looking Draco. 'He should be in one of our homes. A proper place. This hovel is barely serviceable.'

'Draco!'

He looked to his mother, surprised at her censure. For her part, Narcissa looked outraged and embarrassed.

'This was my Aunt's home. It has been a Black family residence for generations.'

He seemed surprised if not particularly impressed, but he nodded dutifully at his mother and she addressed her next words to Snape, looking apologetic.

'This is a lovely home, very cosy, and I, for one, am grateful for Mr Potter's intercession on your behalf.' She did not add, although she did not have to, that she had been instrumental in gaining his assistance. Her expression turned apologetic. 'I hope you know we'd love to host you, Severus, and still hope to after your recovery, any time you like. Right now, though, I'm afraid, the Ministry is giving us a bit of difficulty.'

'Going through our belongings, even my bloody drawer of underthings,' Draco muttered angrily, not really addressing anyone, simply venting his resentment.

'As my son notes, it's been rather discomfiting.'

Snape drew in a deep breath and slowly released it, looking at the boy, then back to Narcissa. Milly thought he seemed grateful. She wondered why.

'It's disgraceful,' Draco insisted. 'The new government has no idea of the proper way to behave. We're not Squibs or Muggles, for Merlin's sake, and we don't deserve to be treated this way. Whatever convoluted ideas Shacklebolt's got, we're still Pure-bloods.'

Milly tensed, Narcissa looked horrified, but it was Snape that responded. He very carefully and distinctly cleared his throat.

Draco looked over to his Head of House and after a moment his pale face flushed an ugly magenta shade. To his credit, he did not hang his head or look away.

'Sorry, Professor Snape.'

Milly delicately cleared her own throat. 'Headmaster.'

Draco's flush deepened, briefly glaring at her before looking back to Snape. 'Yes. I'm sorry, Headmaster.'

Snape still could not speak, but he nodded once to the boy, then looked to Milly and raised a brow. She picked up his tea cup and put it to his lips for him to sip.

They all got the distinct impression he was gratified.

 

'What the cold fuck do you think you're doing?'

His voice was a hiss of sound and his eyes flashed angrily, but Millicent was not cowed. Amycus Carrow had a long way to go to beat Severus Snape in the intimidation department and she had been his student for over six years now.

'Nothing that should disturb you, Professor Carrow,' she replied politely, continuing her inventory of the Potion Store room.

He grabbed her arm, however, and she gasped as he whipped her around to face him.

'This is not a joke, you impudent little half-blood whelp,' he hissed. 'You're still carrying the child.'

'And what if I am? It's nought to do with you.'

He glared at her, but she met his gaze without fear. She had seen him without his britches and he had come undone in her arms and she could never, ever fear him.

'You stupid girl -- do you think it will have some sort of place in the coming order? A half-blood bastard?'

She raised her chin, 'The Headmaster is a half-blood.'

'He's no example to follow. He's a two-faced traitor and the Dark Lord is on to him.'

'Interesting. He did not evince any reservations about my service when we spoke last night.'

They both turned about to find the Headmaster watching the scene impassively from the doorway.

Carrow let her go and she rubbed at her arm, still clutching the inventory.

'Miss Bulstrode, I should like to see the list when you are done with the inventory.'

'Yes, sir.'

'Professor Carrow, I believe you have a class at the moment which is inexcusably untended.'

Amycus scowled, but strode from the small room and she smiled... until she saw that Snape was still eyeing her.

'Was there something else, sir?'

He studied her for a long moment, and then quietly replied, 'I would advise caution with the phials on the second shelf from the top level. There are powerful abortifacients.'

She nodded. 'Very well, sir.'

He continued to eye her for a long moment. 'Accidents happen, of course.'

She frowned now and considered what he said. Finally, she nodded, 'True accidents are regrettable, sir, but sometimes one makes a mistake, and I believe one should learn from one's mistakes.

She got the distinct impression he was highly gratified with her response, but he merely said, 'I trust your dexterity, Miss Bulstrode, and your ability to navigate such a narrow space without undue incident.'

Then he turned on his heel and left her alone in the small, cramped room.

 

* * *

 

The next morning, after breakfast and the nutritive potion which Kreacher had fetched from the school, Milly secured the room against intrusion and set about diligently working Snape's muscles, gently pulling then bending his arms and legs, exercising the lax limbs.

She had been doing this each day, but it was doubly important now that the nerve regeneration potion had been taken, so that he would not suffer the effects of being bed-bound once he was able to move on his own.

She took care to drape his loose nightshirt between his legs to minimise his exposure as she stretched and then gently bent each leg back until it nearly pressed his chest. Despite her precaution, she caught tantalising glimpses of his heavy, hairy scrotum as she worked.

He really did, she now admitted privately, have a very nice body, even if he was thin, but he seemed unaware of it. Amycus, on the other hand, had an overweening pride in his physique, although Milly had learnt the somewhat shorter Snape had far more to be proud of in certain areas.

This fact was brought forcefully home after she had finished working his limbs and set about massaging him. She'd given him a massage each day after working his limbs as part of his therapy, but this session was the first in which he had developed an erection.

Given that he was naked when she massaged him, save for a towel she draped about his loins and tucked between his legs for modesty's sake, it had soon become obvious. The towel had been a bit tented when she turned him over from massaging his back. It was rearing by the time her hands slid along his long, wiry arms toward his chest.

Though she knew it was likely embarrassing to Snape, it was really a very good sign and she was pleased on his behalf. It was the first full-blown erection she had witnessed in the week she had been caring for him and, as she knew from her studies, unlike Muggles a wizard of his age should experience them regularly throughout each day, especially on waking, along with the occasional nocturnal emission.

Soon she finished up, noting he no longer perspired by the end of being exercised. This was a sign her diligence and the nutritive potion were working and she was highly gratified, although certainly would not have minded bathing him. Down girl.

Milly helped him back into his nightshirt, doing her best to ignore the intriguingly heavy length of flesh that gently waved in her direction, and carefully laid him back on his pillows, lifting the counterpane to his chest and patting his hand.

'After all that, I imagine you'd like a bit of a rest. You can give me a bell if you need anything.'

She hurried from his room, unsure which of them was the more flustered.

 

* * *

 


She held the warm, dark head to her heavy breast which ached with the pressure of her milk.

'Go on, baby, drink all you need to.' Milly stroked silk-fine hair. 'It feels good to Mama's bubbie.'

The stirring of warmth and love grew as she nursed, crooning a wordless lullaby her mother used to hum as she cooked.

The sensation of pressure in her breast seemed to grow, building to discomfort and eventually easing to pleasure and finally...

 

Milly woke in the middle of a shuddering climax, crying out. One hand was rubbing her hypersensitive nipples, trying to relieve the ache in her growing breasts. Thanks to a sturdy-boned structure and hearty constitution her five and half months of pregnancy did not show much, except in her breasts which were swelling and making her once-loose tops stretch across her bosom.

If only he could nurse. It'd do us both some good. She flushed warm at the thought of Snape sucking on her nipples and squeezed her thighs together as an aftershock rippled through her.

The bell rang, startling her, and she hastily took up her wand and hurried through the bathroom to Snape's side. When needed, he rang the bell twice for assistance with the chamber pot, which had, thus far, been the only reason he'd ever done so. She wondered what he needed now.

His brows were furrowed with concern, although he didn't seem to be in pain nor did the room seem cold, damp or otherwise uncomfortable. He lifted his brows at her with a questioning expression and she realised he wanted to know why she'd cried out.

Her face grew warmer still, but she merely said, 'I had a dream. I'm sorry it disturbed you.'

To hide her discomfiture, she took up his cup and asked if he wanted water. The cup was from the Hogwarts infirmary and had a Muggle-style straw transfigured into it for use when a patient was abed. He nodded and she held it to his lips, which curled around the small tube as he sucked.

She watched him drinking and felt a fresh pang in her swollen breasts. Milly suffered a brief vision of Snape suckling at them and forced her thoughts elsewhere. She cleared her throat as he finished, and put the cup down, then set about to somewhat unnecessarily smooth out his bedcovers.

Soon she was finishing up, stretching across him to pull up the sheets. When she straightened, she noted the oddly arrested expression on his face. He was staring at her bosom, which she now noted had been directly in his line of vision as she worked. As he realised her gaze was on him, Snape reddened. She felt the warmth return to her own cheeks.

'Well...'

She trailed off uncertainly. Then she noted something -- a suspicious swelling of his bedcovers at groin level.

The warmth in her cheeks swelled to tingling heat as she looked up at him only to find him staring straight ahead. It was, she reminded herself firmly, a good sign. The nerve regeneration potion was doing what it was supposed to, and soon he would be able to do everything he normally did. And then he won't need you anymore.

She fought off a swell of despondency at the thought and tried to figure out what, if anything, to say. He risked a quick glance in her direction. Their eyes met, although his gaze shifted away, but seemingly of its own volition was drawn back to her burgeoning breasts. He quickly looked away again, although she noted the swelling at his groin seemed to twitch.

'I'll leave you to rest then.' She spoke by rote, adding, 'If there's anything else you need...'

Twin patches of intense red suffused his sallow cheeks, but he shook his head and she swiftly left the room.

 

* * *

 

The next day they had both slept a bit later than the norm, so it was not until afternoon that Milly prepared Snape for his daily exercise and massage.

She was pleased his recovery was proceeding apace. His limbs were no longer cold and he had even regained a bit of movement in arms and legs, although it was not exactly graceful. His hands and feet remained motionless, however. The nutritive potion was still working, as well, and he no longer looked quite so sallow or drawn.

She noted he again developed an erection as she massaged him. By the time she was working her fingers up his thighs, it lay flat to his belly, the tip peaking from beneath the edge of the towel and he seemed to have found something of intense interest on the other side of the room opposite her. She wished it did not trouble him so.

'All right, time for your bath,' she said, then tried to reassure him as the cheek she could see grew flushed. 'You'll soon be well enough to do this on your own.'

 

She'll soon be able to move on her own,' Snape had informed Pomfrey after Milly had swallowed down a phial full of acrid potion. "In older patients it can take a few days to work, but I expect she'll make a full recovery by morning."

She had taken a bludger to the back a few days before, right between her shoulder blades, during a Quidditch match her fifth year. Milly had known as soon as she'd landed like a discarded marionette on the sandy pitch that her back was broken. She had been briefly glad her mother would never hear of her injury and carry on, then felt shame at the traitorous thought. It was not her mother's fault she had thought like a Muggle since she was one nor was it nice to think so disrespectfully of the dead.

She'd blinked back tears and had decided instead to be glad she was a witch and that Pomfrey could fix her fracture in a trice, which had eased the pain. Function, however, had required nerve-regeneration potion.

Though it had been embarrassing that Snape had seen her topless and face-down on the Infirmary bed as he had assessed her injuries in order to determine what strength of potion he would need to brew, Milly was nonetheless proud that her Head of House was so skilled.

Despite her embarrassment, she had felt special warmth at the thought that those long, strong fingers were the ones that would make the potion that would heal her...

 

Despite his probable embarrassment, there was no help for it -- she had to bathe him there.

Milly rinsed the flannel, plucked up her courage and carefully pulled away the towel covering his erection, which was by now quite red and thickly swollen.

She briefly looked up at him, but he had a pained expression and was staring fixedly ahead. She had to say something, she decided.

'I'm nearly done.'

His erection twitched. She hesitated. For some reason, she felt as if she needed his approval to continue.

'I, uh, need to finish bathing you, sir.'

His gaze sidled towards her and she gave him a small and sympathetic smile. After a moment, he closed his eyes and she decided it was his way of saying 'go ahead.' She had to at any rate.

Since his penis was out of the way for a change, she opted to wash his scrotum first. He made a small noise as she gently cupped and washed it and Milly looked up to make sure he was all right. He did not seem to be in pain, but was breathing a bit more rapidly than was normal, eyes still closed.

She continued the bed bath, carefully washing the folds along his groin and rinsing the flannel before turning her attention to his erection. He was so hard his foreskin had retreated from the head. She ran the flannel down his length before grasping it to gently wipe at his bare glans.

The sudden gasp made her look up, and his alarmed expression caused her to miss his initial emission, but the second one streaked over the back of her forearm, a sudden, startling source of wet warmth which made her look back down and realise he was ejaculating.

She swiftly caught the remainder of his emission in the folds of the flannel, and then wiped his torso and her arm free of streaks of semen. She was not sure what to say and finally opted to act as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened, something Pomfrey had told her was key in dealing with awkward situations.

'All right then. Let's get you dressed.'

Milly could not help but note, however, that he kept his gaze averted the rest of the afternoon, ignoring anything she said, and she finally left him alone after an unusually silent, dismal tea, claiming she felt like having a brief kip in her rooms.

 

* * *

 

She had fallen asleep after all, and was dreaming of talking to her mother when Snape cried out.

Milly woke up mumbling 'Excuse me, Mama,' before she was fully alert, and hurried to his room, barefoot.

The room was dim, lit only by moonlight and the single candle on his bedside table. Snape was shaking his head back and forth on the pillow, eyes unseeing as he whimpered and Milly did not waste time hurrying to his side.

'No. Please no...'

His newfound voice was hoarse and thick, although Milly did not know if this was due to his injuries or his emotions. She did not hesitate, however, placing a warm hand on the side of his face.

'Lily!'

The outcry ended on a sob and he began to blink and breathe rapidly, his chest hitching.

She made shushing sounds, stroking a hand through his hair now as she whispered, 'It was a dream. It was just a dream.'

He stiffened, looking up at her before his features began to contort. She recognised the expression; he was on the verge of throwing a benny.

'I was dreaming, too,' she said quietly; as every Slytherin had learnt, sometimes one could belay or distract Snape.

This made him pause, blinking.

'I'm glad you've got your voice back,' she added softly and sincerely, giving in to her impulse to stroke his face, aware it might be the last time he allowed it. Now he could talk, he was not likely to allow any such gestures.

He trembled beneath her fingers and she carefully moved closer, her hand moving down to his shoulder. 'Bulstro--'

'Was it a bad dream?'

She didn't really expect an answer, but after a moment he tersely nodded, then developed a pained expression as a solitary tear slid free. He tried to lift his arm, which gave a convulsive movement before reaching his cheek and he settled back down, a look of frustration, of desperation, darkening his face.

She gently wiped the tear away, cupping his cheek again. 'I'm sorry.'

He screwed his eyes shut as if it would help him keep his temper, help keep the other tears he fought, at bay. His voice sounded choked. 'Bulstro--'

'Milly,' she gently corrected, then gave in to her no longer entirely altruistic feelings for him and stroked his clean, soft hair. 'You'll be well again soon.'

She leaned down and placed a tender kiss to the corner of each eye, whispering, 'Truly.'

When she pulled back his black gaze fixed on her for a long, seemingly timeless moment. To her chagrin, she got a sudden twinge in her heavy breasts and she winced, pressing a hand to her chest, a reflexive gesture at the unexpected sensation. His gaze had followed and, to her shame, her nipples tightened and she felt her clit throb with arousal.

His eyes widened slightly and his lips parted, evincing surprise. She felt the need to somehow explain.

'I'm sorry. It's... they do that sometimes now.'

She flushed at how inane she sounded, but he didn't even seem to hear her. His gaze stayed fixed on her breasts and she could feel her nipples tighten almost painfully further, pushing against her nightgown. Looking away for a moment, she suddenly saw it -- he was hard.

For me.

Snape swallowed. Then he slowly looked up at her even as Milly shifted her gaze back to his. In the darkness, it all seemed like something out of a dream.

She did not pause to think. A wave of her wand opened the buttons of her gown and bared her breasts.

He stared, stunned, and then looked up at her uncertainly.

Her voice was a thin whisper. 'I've seen that you like them.'

He shivered and she continued, 'They hurt now. Growing. It ... it might help us both.'

She moved closer, and then deliberately lifted the bedcovers to settle next to him. He stared uncertainly.

She brought his dark, warm head closer to one needy, tingling pap. He stared at the proffered breast, and then looked up to her face. Long moments passed and just when she thought he'd close his eyes or turn away or perhaps even shout at her, he turned his head slightly and opened his mouth. She gasped as his lips closed on her nipple. Then he closed his eyes tightly and began to suckle.

She whimpered slightly, in a sort of pleasured pain, and pressed closer to the incredible sensation. She had needed this, and the thought she was providing him some form of comfort after all the pain and embarrassment was immensely gratifying. She had seen him, after all, and she did not mind if he saw her.

He pulled back after a moment, breathing heavily and she stroked his face. He trembled, looking up at her briefly, then back to her breast. His voice trembled.

'We--'

'It's all right,' she said softly. 'Truly. It helps me... and it feels very nice.'

He looked stricken and she felt him shift his hips, striving to pull them back from her. She shook her head and brought him closer, brought his face back to her chest.

'Please.'

He closed his eyes and latched on again, as if desperate, and she did not hesitate, reaching down to lift his nightshirt up and cup his softly throbbing bulk, squeezing.

He froze for one long moment, then kept sucking, and she began to stroke him, one firm hand wrapped around his length. She used her other hand to hold him to her and run her fingers through his hair and down along his nape as she had been imagining doing since her fifth year. It felt so wonderful, so very right in a way being with Amycus never had.

Carrow had been a knowledgeable lover, but also arrogant and rather uncaring about what she might prefer or how she might feel. He had not hesitated to do what he liked, but he also never looked at her the way Snape did.

She had heard Amycus once describe her as a 'fat-bottomed cauldron of a witch.' It was part of what made her turn from him and avoid his further attentions. She knew she was not a conventionally-attractive witch, but she also felt she had other traits that were even more important; she was talented and dedicated and genuinely wished to help others.

Amycus Carrow had certainly never focused on any part of her body the way Snape did. He had certainly never suckled on her breasts in this fashion, as if they were the only things that existed. In fact, Snape had touched and tasted the one far more in the last few minutes than Amycus had done to both during their short-lived affair.

Milly smiled, and gentled him back now, proffering her other aching breast for his attentions. Snape turned to it, breathing heavily, and stared at it for a long moment, but before he could take her nipple into his mouth, he suddenly closed his eyes. He tensed and pressed his temple against her breast for long moments, biting back the sounds he clearly longed to make as she felt him spend against her fingers and both their bellies.

She crooned, stroking his damp face and hair, intensely pleased.

His voice trembled. 'Millicent.'

She nearly came at the sound of her name from the man in her arms.

'That was lovely,' she whispered, kissing the top of his head and holding him closer.

She waited for what else he might say, prepared for anything, but to her astonished pleasure he merely settled against her, turning his head after a moment to take in her other nipple.

 

* * *

 

The sound of Kreacher apparating woke her, followed by his hastily mumbled, 'Sorry, miss. Professor sir.' He quickly disappeared again, along with the breakfast tray he'd been carrying.

She blinked sleep away to find Snape's dark gaze on her. His face was expressionless and she swallowed uncertainly. Thankfully they were both under his covers, although she was acutely aware of his morning glory against her hip and her breasts pressed to the soft, springy hair on his chest.

'I'm sorry. I should have gone back to my room.'

He cleared his throat. His voice was a touch raspy.

'Understandable. Neither of us was in any condition to... think.'

'I'm not sure I am right now, either,' she admitted, shifting slightly, which caused her hip bone to rub along his erection, making him close his eyes as the sensation washed over him.

When he opened them, she moved in closer, hesitantly. He swallowed.

'Are you going to kiss me?' The question did not seem as if he thought it terribly important, merely an enquiry.

She fought a smile and nodded.

His own voice nearly disappeared, it sounded so breathless. 'Go on then.'

It turned out to be warm, pungent, soft and very, very pleasant. Milly beamed as she pulled back to look at him.

'That was nice.' He nodded, but said nothing. She added a bit bashfully, 'That was my first proper one. Kiss, I mean.' She blushed as she suddenly realised they had not done that last night in all the tumult of their somewhat unconventional encounter.

'I would have thought...' His voice trailed off, but she realised what he meant.

'No. I wanted to, but he said that was for lovers and we were just having it off.' She blushed, but added. 'I'm glad you gave me my first kiss.'

He studied her for a long moment and then seemed to come to a decision. 'It was mine, also.'

She frowned, stunned, and he shifted closer, putting an arm on her waist. She refocused. 'You're moving better.'

'I can feel my hands and feet now, but I cannot move them. I can move my arms, though, and my legs.'

She smiled. 'That's wonderful.'

'I expect I shall be able to walk and feed myself in short order.'

Her smile grew wistful. 'I'm glad. Even if it means you won't need me anymore.'

His gaze darkened. 'I shouldn't say that.'

Then he moved in close and stole his second kiss.

 

* * *

 

Milly softly and lovingly kissed Severus's temple before carefully stepping from the room, intent on freshening up and changing. She had left Snape on his side on the bed, replete, softly snoring.

Despite not being able to have full-on sex, they had enjoyed a lovely cuddle. He had insisted on something more reciprocal and she had managed to manoeuvre one of his hands into a position she could rub her clit against as she stroked him off. It had been quite delightful.

Now, peering into the cupboard of her small room, she pondered what outfit to change into.

Millicent was not a clothes horse and her outfits tended to be purchased for their practicality rather than their aesthetic appeal, but right now she would have been glad of something pretty to wear for Snape to look at. Not that she felt particularly pretty, with her thick middle and heavy-boned frame.

She swallowed at the thought and put a hand to her belly. Would he still want her once her baby came -- a little Death Eater's bastard? For the first time, Milly wished she had opted to rid herself of it. She admitted to herself now that the only reason she had opted to keep it was to annoy Carrow, which was not a proper reason to bear a child.

Were it Snape's, she would have been proud to carry it. As it was she felt quite foolish, but now properly stuck with her decision. Her mother's oft-repeated favourite saying flitted through her mind now, If there's no hope for it, Milly love, and no help, either, then you muddle through as best you can.

She heard the sound of apparation from Snape's room and suddenly recalled how they had embarrassed the poor old elf who had taken their breakfast tray away. He was probably returning with it.

She turned from the cupboard and headed back toward the room, intending to help, when she saw a large shadow -- larger than she would have thought Kreacher could make. Her hand went to her pocket, making sure her wand was handy, but she had left it on Snape's bedside table.

She stepped through the bathroom and saw someone else in the room. Was it Potter come to visit? But the voice of his visitor was feminine and deadly quiet and filled with a rage she could almost feel.

'Now you'll get what you deserve, you filthy half-blood traitor, and with your own spell.'

Milly rushed into the room, startling a wild-eyed Pansy Parkinson who had been pointing her wand at the sleepy, startled Snape.

'What are you doing?' She tackled the smaller, slender girl who turned her wand on her instead.

'Sectumsempra!'

The almost point-blank spell ripped through her clothes and the skin of her abdomen and caused Milly to nearly drop to her knees, but she did not let go of Pansy's wand, wrenching it from her with the force of desperation.

'Stupefy!'

Pansy dropped like a stone to the floor and Milly stared at the unfamiliar wand in her hands. They felt oddly cold, despite the warm blood that seemed to have splattered them.

'Millicent!'

She was staring at the book that had fallen from Pansy's pocket. Potion Titration. So Draco had either sent her, or, more likely, gossiped like the poncy git he was to the wrong person. Why wouldn't he trust Pansy with Snape's location? In her experience, Draco never could tell who could properly be trusted, who was truly a friend.

'Millicent!'

She turned her eyes to Snape who was struggling to sit up despite his stiff, still unusable hands. She shook her head, finally dropping to her knees. They made a slight splashing sound and felt oddly warm and wet.

'Draco. That blabbermouth.'

It was the last thing she said before losing consciousness.

 

* * *

 

'...but Azkaban...and so quickly. I scarcely see how justice is served--'

'There was no way to avoid such a sentence. She nearly killed Miss Bulstrode, causing her to miscarry. She intended on murdering me. As for justice, she was questioned under Veritaserum, tried and sentenced under interim law. With the current upheaval in the government, it was the best she could hope for and having her rot in a cell waiting for the dust to settle and a new Wizengamot to be elected serves no one, least of all Parkinson. The sentence might have been harsher still in a regular trial.'

Milly turned toward his voice now, heart beating faster and rousing her further at what she heard.

Pomfrey's voice was quiet and disapproving. 'I did hear Miss Parkinson had suggested we turn the Potter boy over to You Know Who during the battle. I didn't want to think it of a student.'

'Hardly. She's a nineteen year old witch, not a child. Potter is too well protected for any simple vendetta, but thanks to a foolish boy I am disappointed to say I thought had better instincts, she was able to turn her vengeful attention elsewhere.'

'I'm glad you weren't harmed.'

His voice was clipped. 'I might wish the same could be said of Miss Bulstrode.'

'You saved her life, Severus Snape. And you were injured yourself.'

'Parkinson did not even touch me.'

'I was referring to your injuries from You Know Who.'

'Do not make me out some sort of hero, Poppy. I am nothing of the sort. I failed them both.'

'Pansy Parkinson was not your fault!'

'I played my part too well. She felt me a traitor to the cause she knew.'

'And how is that your fault?'

'I helped cement her views, did I not? Because of them she nearly killed the person caring for my wretched carcass. Now she is getting the punishment she deserves.'

'I'm sorry, but while I disapprove of what she did, I cannot believe Azkaban is ever deserved.'

'That is not what you said, as I recall, near the start of the year.'

'Oh, Severus... I have never been more glad to be wrong about someone. I'm still so very sorry for how I treated you this last year.'

'There is no need to apologise. I merely acted as ordered and none could have guessed.'

'I still feel a need to apologise.'

'If it pleases you, but it will remain unacknowledged and unnecessary.'

'You impossible man!'

Milly smiled at the exchange, making a small sound of amusement.

'I believe she is coming to.'

...

'Miss Bulstrode?'

Milly blinked, looking up at the hazy face of Poppy Pomfrey. A darker head was behind her, looking even hazier.

'Is Severus okay?'

Pomfrey blinked at this unexpected question, and then turned to that darker, now more clearly-defined, head.

'I am here and quite well... thanks to you.'

'I'm so glad,' she said breathlessly, smiling up at him.

Pomfrey harrumphed.

'If the mutual admiration society has finished convening, there are some things of which you need to be apprised, young lady.'

Milly drew in deep breath and nodded. Somehow, she already knew.

'I lost the baby.'

Pomfrey looked pained, but Snape merely nodded. His eyes glittered.

'I am truly sorry. There was nothing I could do,' he murmured. 'The force of her spell was too great, the cutting too deep.'

The mediwitch squeezed her arm briefly. 'But Severus did manage to seal your womb. You'll be able to have more children. I'm truly sorry you lost this one.'

Milly shook her head. 'It was never really my choice. It might be for the best.' She looked up at Snape. 'And I would rather have the child of someone I truly love.'

His expression was inscrutable. 'Indeed.'

She reached her hand out, heedless of Pomfrey's presence, needing to feel him. The old witch looked startled, but Snape looked only at Milly before reaching out his hand and letting her grasp it.

His fingers moved stiffly, she noted, but they did move.

'You're doing so much better. How long was I out?'

'Two days.'

Pomfrey nodded. 'And he insisted on having the bed by your side until he could stand on his own two feet.'

With that she left, giving them both a knowing look.

'I'm sorry. I think she disapproves,' Milly noted.

'You are nearly nineteen and an apprentice mediwitch. I am the school's Potions Master. There is no rule against such a liaison so long as both parties are discreet.'

'You're not the Headmaster anymore?'

He lifted a brow, his voice becoming a touch silky. 'Were you only interested in my position?'

She shook her head. 'No. But it's unfair if you were demoted.'

He considered this. 'In that case, you can rest assured it was my decision. I had been elevated to the position in an underhanded fashion by the old regime. I would rather earn the position rightfully.'

'Then I'm glad. I'm glad you're going to still be teaching here.'

'And I am pleased that you will be able to complete your training. You will make a fine Mediwitch.'

'Thanks to you.'

He shook his head. 'I had nought to do with it.'

'You have everything to do with it. Sir.'

He cleared his throat, looked a touch uncomfortable. 'I think I would rather you call me by name. Millicent.'

'Milly. Only my father calls me Millicent.' He nodded and she beamed, whispering, 'Severus.'

He stepped closer still and she squeezed his hand before holding it to her chest. 'How long do I have to stay here?'

'You are nearly recovered, however, Madam Pomfrey feels you require two more days of rest.'

'Oh.' She sighed with disappointment.

'However, I see no reason you cannot rest elsewhere. There is a large, very comfortable, but rather solitary bed in the Dungeons that might suit.'

She looked up at this and smiled. 'That sounds wonderful. But only if you join me.'

He bent closer and his wonderfully spicy, woody scent pervaded her nostrils.

'You need but ask, my dear,' he whispered and she shivered before accepting his kiss, and the promise that it held.

 

* * *

 

EPILOGUE

 

 

He had expected it. He had known it would happen eventually. Snape was merely surprised it had taken six years.

Milly had grown tired of him.

They used to enjoy a lovely morning session of what she called 'wake-up sex' which had become a nearly daily occurrence not long after they had become a couple. For the last three weeks, however, Severus had woken to an empty bed.

She blamed it on work, on needing to check on a student in the Infirmary, on needing to eat before early duty shift, on being unable to sleep and not wanting to wake him. The excuses were getting thin and she seemed anxious when she looked at him now, as if afraid he would say something.

When they did make love, she seemed distracted to the point he had difficulty maintaining an erection, so they had not done very much at night, either, other than sleep. In fact, of late she had fallen asleep earlier and earlier, claiming fatigue, but when she did not let herself have a lie-in, he recognised her ploy; she was avoiding sex with him.

He clenched his hand into a fist and scowled. Tonight; he would get the truth from her, no matter how painful, and they would separate as civilly and amicably as possible and she would go on to a long and well-respected career and he would bury himself in the minutiae of his job and try to make polite conversation on those rare occasions (he would ensure they would be rare) that they met over work or at meals in the Great Hall. She would never know how much of his heart she would take with her.

Yes. Tonight he would finish the job she had begun and finish tearing his heart in two.

The door to their shared quarters opened and Milly stepped in, then froze on sight of him. She looked astonishingly guilty and he suddenly wondered if she had intended on meeting up with someone. His stomach clenched even tighter; he had never considered the reason she'd grown weary of him might be another man.

'I thought you had Fourth Year potions.'

He nodded. 'I did, until Trevor Walden spilt Erumpent repellent and fumigated the entire lab. They're in the Library, writing an essay on the dangers of inattention in Potion-making as well as reviewing the motions for making a Bubble-head Charm.'

She smiled, but then swallowed nervously and he could feel the pain in his chest begin. So... the discussion would be earlier than he'd assumed. Perhaps it was for the best.

He forced himself to ask. 'Why are you here?'

She seemed torn. Would she tell him the truth?

'Well... I had wanted to wait, to tell you tomorrow, for Halloween, but I suppose this is a good a time as any.'

He frowned. Halloween? She knew that was a difficult day for him, although they had never discussed it. Was it more than mere boredom? Had she actually grown to despise him? He could think of nothing else that would make her wish to grind shards into his old scars.

'What is it, Millicent?'

She stiffened; he rarely called her that unless they were quarrelling, something they did but rarely.

'Well, I'm sure you've noticed my absence in the mornings.'

He nodded.

'You're so suspicious and I knew you'd worry, or worse, guess, so I wanted to be sure before I said anything. I didn't want to tell you until I could check and show you the truth. That's why I've been leaving before you wake.'

His face went blank in that way she hated; revealing nothing, but always meaning either displeasure or deeply hidden pain.

She stepped up now and took his hand. He waited and she brought it down near her belly.

She looked at him expectantly, but he frowned, still watching her face, waiting for the revelation. When he could not stand the silence any longer, he gritted his teeth and spoke.

'Millicent, I--'

She rolled her eyes, suddenly looking rather amused and she took his hand up again and kissed it. He was startled.

With great care, Milly kissed each finger of his hand and placed a sucking kiss to his palm. To his chagrin, he grew uncomfortably hard.

'Milly--'

'Severus.' She stood on tiptoe and kissed him gently. 'But maybe you should get used to being called something else.'

He frowned, confused now. She smiled, her eyes filling.

'Oh, Severus -- you're going to be a father.'

She felt his hand grow cold in hers for a moment and he grew so pale she thought he might faint.

'F-father?'

Milly nodded, placing his hand back on her belly. 'All yours. Well, and mine.'

'A baby.' His lips looked bloodless, but he looked down to where his hand was and rapidly knelt on one knee. His hand traced the scars she still bore, scars he still felt guilt for, she knew. Scars he had touched and kissed so many times over the years with such tender reverence, she was actually glad for them instead of ashamed. Scars he knew the exact shape and breadth of despite their being covered.

They would stretch now, she knew, completely out of shape. Their baby would distort her scars and add a few more of his or her own. She somehow knew he would treasure those scars even more deeply.

He pressed his forehead to her belly for a moment, before looking up at her.

'Forgive me.' She frowned. 'I thought you were going to tell me it was over. That we were over.'

'Oh, Sev! There's nothing to forgive.'

He paled again and his expression was startled for a moment. 'You called me Sev.'

She blushed. 'Sorry. I... I tend to think of you that way privately, but I know you prefer--'

'No, it's fine. When we're alone,' he quickly amended.

She smiled. 'Of course.'

He did not move and she gently pulled on his hand to bring him up, but he shook his head. 'No. You haven't forgiven me for that which I was actually apologising, Milly.'

'Oh?'

'Forgive me for not asking sooner, for not bringing it up until now so that it seems as if it is the only reason I am asking. It is not. I should have asked as soon as I brought you to these rooms. Six years ago.'

Milly waited, curious now. 'What is it, sweetheart?'

He shut his eyes for a moment and drew in a breath.

'I want to marry you, Millicent Bulstrode.' He stood, hand still in hers, his voice insistent. 'I want you to be mine.'

The look in his eyes denied her refusal; in this he would be implacable. He would not make the same mistakes twice in his life. He would seize what he desired, not hope and yearn in mute agony that one day it would come.

Milly hesitated. The look in his eyes made her stomach quiver, and not in a pleasant way. He meant what he said, she knew. He wanted to claim her, to own her. His hands in hers trembled though, and were cold.

He is such a boy. In so many ways, still a small, insecure, blustering Slytherin boy. She squeezed his hand. And I would never change him for another.

'You don't need to marry me for that, Severus Snape. I've been yours for six years. I plan to be yours for as long as you'll have me.'

He pulled her closer.

'I am not a nice man.'

'I know.'

'I will not tolerate adultery.'

'Nor will I.'

'No child of ours will bear the name Snape-Bulstrode.'

'I'm partial to Jocelyn for a girl and Jasper for a boy.'

'I'm not joking.'

'Do you think I am?'

'I think you are playing a dangerous game with an ill-tempered man.'

'The only game I want to play with you involves far less clothes.'

He pulled her against him, scowling in her face. 'Damn you, Milly! I'm telling you I love you and I want you for the rest of what remains of my ill-begotten life!'

She smiled and slipped her arms around him, snugging him even tighter to her.

'You never have to tell me that again, you silly, grouchy man. I already know.'

It was less a kiss than a bruising, tearing clash of lips and teeth and tongue.

It was a somewhat wild-eyed, still dubious Severus who breathed heavily against her face as they parted. She was a touch breathless, also, but exuberant. Her eyes sparkled merrily.

'What do you think of Bulstrode-Snape then?'

 

The Potions Master and the school's Mediwitch were both absent from the Great Hall that night. They reappeared on Halloween, a day in which Severus Snape badly frightened every single student he encountered simply by smiling at them.