The dull and cold November day embraced the importance of the Tournament without any attention. It did not diminish the cheering of the crowd awaiting the fight in great anticipation. Madam Pomfrey fussed in the first-aid tent, frantic about the idea of the ministry to use dragons. Leonor grinned, all preparations were perfect like in a hospital. Ointments for scratches, burns and other possible injuries stood in a cupboard. The younger witch brought also some other than the regular medication as well as a large package of magical plants for potions. Poppy was satisfied; the two healers shared the common sense to better be prepared for the worst case. Professor McGonagall visited them after escorting Potter from the school. Her eyes shimmered in an unusual wet glance and Leonor transfigured a handkerchief from a piece of paper to show her sympathy. Leonor wanted to distract them a bit and started to talk about the travelling through Europe. She explained to have met Madam Maxime. McGonagall and Pomfrey quieted after learning that Leonor had worked with dragons before. Leonor kept the issue with the Horntail’s tail still secret whilst being happy to improve the relationship to the two women a bit. It would only be frightening, and nothing would change the task. She should have published the information, but in fear of being discovered she refused to do it. Peter would publish once somebody continued the research, but due to a lack of dragon-keepers with medical interest, it had not happened yet. Leonor hoped nothing would require the knowledge today.
Leonor watched the fight from the first-aid tent until Fleur and Victor came to their official check-up and the healing of some minor injuries. She missed Harry’s fight, but the cheers of the crowd and the applause spoke volumes. He had done very well. Leonor exited the tent after the battle quickly sending the two foreign champions to rest. She rushed after the Hungarian Horntail to help the dragon-keepers trapping the beast in the cage. They had already managed a good piece of the way. The lads outwitted the dragon with the nest; the female walked behind the eggs like a goat chasing a carrot. Leonor was breathless running through the forest before drawing level. She slowed down to walk with the lads behind. They sent spells to the dragon’s tail from time to time to kept up the speed. Everything was good, and the Horntail set a foot into the cage examining the eggs with an almost gentle look. Leonor changed position to help with chaining the dragon when a reckless stunner hit the back of the beast. The dragon clubbed its tail unexpectedly while turning and changing the radius. Everybody duked and tried to run, but Leonor was at the wrong side and right in the circle of the blows. The sharp spikes slashed through Leonor’s robes. The tail had grazed her waist only. She pressed a hand on the slit, but the fabric started to soak up the gushing blood. Peter opened his eyes wide shouting swear words to the young man.
Leonor swayed slightly before sitting on the forest floor, shocked by realizing the happenings. The bleeding diminished soon, and Leonor released the compression of the gash.
“Let it be, Peter. It cannot be changed”, Leonor tried to calm herself.
“You know what it means, don’t you?” Peter shouted at her.
“I do. Safe the beast. I’ll go back to the school. I’ve prepared some stuff and I was relieved seeing Potter return without needing it.” She managed a sad smile.
“I’ll come with you. You need help”, said Peter, his voice angry and concerned at once. The young bloke squinted regretfully into Leonor’s direction.
“No, you are required here. The dragon must be caged. I’ll find somebody to help. There is some time left to act, right?”
“Are you sure?”, asked Peter subdued. He knew the suggestion was the only thing to do without risking more injuries.
“Yes”, confirmed Leonor and walked swiftly back to the edge of the forest. Her mind was racing about the best way to explain the incident to Madam Pomfrey. She needed to convince the matron fast or there would be no time left for explaining essentials. Leonor wouldn’t be able to finish the antidote herself. She couldn’t hope for the additional support in the hospital wing, but the dark green liquid would safe her live. A depressed feeling clenched Leonor’s chest. She had recently evaded the threat of the emphatic curse, but would soon face a similar mental pain.
The first-aid tent was empty and cleared in the meantime. The cubicles had already been removed and the furniture was neatly stacked. Poppy boxed the flasks and ointments with a cross expression when Leonor ran into the tent.
“You’ve got to help me.” Leonor was pleading, the balanced temper was gone, the shock and agitation deep.
“You’ve to help here. I’m not clearing your stuff as well!” The matron did not even look up.
“I need a potion, an antidote. The Hungarian Horntail has venom in the spikes. I’ve been hit, and it will poison me slowly.”
Madam Pomfrey looked up and examined the cut with trained movements. She handed Leonor the dittany from one of the boxes.
“No need to fuss around. I’ve never heard about a venomous dragon. It will heal in next to no time. Nobody knew where you’ve been. I’ve taken care of a Durmstrang boy who had scratched his knee badly.”
Madam Pomfrey had a point, she could have said something. It didn’t matter to Leonor now. She took the magical plants out of the cupboard, vanished the other unneeded medications quickly to Hogsmeade and zoomed out into the fresh November air. She didn’t even feel angry about the stubborn attitude of the matron. It was little time for big explanations. She kept up the pace towards the castle heading for the Potions Master when a cold hand embraced her fingers.
“Slow down”, called a deep and furious voice.
She stopped with relief. Leonor expected Severus to be back in the Great Hall already. He caught the questioning look.
“The Prefects walked the Slytherins to the castle. I went to see Peter. He told me you’ve been injured.”
“So, you believe it, can you help?”, said Leonor with new hope.
“Well, I heard it yesterday already”, scowled Severus, his face as pale as hers. He pulled Leonor suddenly close with one hand, both hearts pounded fiercely.
“You’ll tell me what to do. It will be alright”, he said with a calmer voice. “Let’s go and not waste time.”
Severus removed the spells on the door to his office and they walked in, hanging the cloaks to a hook. He hoped the students and teachers would be busy and excited enough to leave him alone finishing the task ahead. Peter had given him a piece of paper and urged Severus to find Leonor before digging to the details. Peter explained to have no idea about healing and potions, because everything was done by his mother in Romania. He had only snatched the formula from home to prepare himself for the worst case confident to find a helpful hand at Hogwarts. While Severus read the note, Leonor unwrapped the plants from the paper. She made piles of the different magical herbs hastily, other plants wandered back into the paper.
“You’ll need a few drops of sage oil from your stocks. I must have vanished it to Hogsmeade by mistake”, said Leonor weakly. Severus took a small phial of oil from a cupboard and put it to the workbench.
“So, what do I need to do exactly. I suppose the notes describe the antidote?”
Severus considered the mix of dried and fresh stalks, roots and leaves. Leonor took Peter’s paper and copied it to a small blackboard above the workplace and added remarks behind some steps. Her skin was ashen, and it made effort to reach across the workplace to the board.
“Let me do it.” Severus took the chalk out of her hand and conjured a stool to press Leonor down. She didn’t fight it and her wand fell with a little clank to the floor. When he handed the wand back, she only shook her head indicating it was no good idea to use it.
“It’s better you take my wand. I don’t want to send stray spells. The antidote needs to be fresh and once ready it must be kept on the exact drinking temperature. The leaves and stalks should be pounded and mixed before being put into the boiling water. The mandrake roots must be cut with a silver dagger, sprinkled with the sage oil and added while cooling down. Everything else is on the board …”, explained Leonor, “… it’s not too difficult and takes about two hours before ready for usage.”
“The recipe is correct? Are you sure?
“Positive, we did enough research to confirm it. It will do what it can do, the earlier I drink it, the better.”
“What’s about the cut, you need to clean it and use some dittany?”
“No”, Leonor shook her head, “… it needs to be open to release the venom and will heal when the toxic effects decrease. Dittany won’t do any harm, but will not improve things either. I can use some bandage on it, but it needs to be changed every few hours to remove the venom.”
Leonor’s voice was drawling; as if the words formed reluctantly. She supported her head with the right hand, glassy eyes observed the workbench without realizing any detail. Severus had noted all remarks, organized the plants and heated water in a cauldron above a low fire, everything was prepared to start to work.
“Why don’t you sit in the armchair? You look lousy.” His expression stern and a deep line between the eyes.
“Severus, you’ll have to feed me the potion. I’ll not be awake. The venom creates a daze, a terrible one. If the antidote starts to take effect, you’ve to calm me down. If the daze becomes dreamless and quiet another helping of the antidote is required. It’s like a rhythm and repeats about hourly.”
“How do I know when it’s enough?”, asked Severus supporting the poised witch to the armchair where she curled up and closed the eyes. The power of the poison appeared to be strong, the toxic effects increased quickly.
“… if I remain calm after taking the antidote, … and continue sleeping without making any trouble then it’s over. A small cup of the liquid is sufficient, but it may require some helpings. Keep me awake if you can.”
Severus watched the motionless heap in the armchair. He had no clue what to do with the woman in his office. She belonged to the hospital wing and not here. She became fragile and the antidote needed his attention. He conjured some bandages to the armrest still hoping she’d be able to use them without help.
“I’ll bring you upstairs to Madam Pomfrey and prepare the antidote while she will look after you.” Severus stepped to the mantelpiece and took Floo Power from a small basket.
“No, she doesn’t understand, the explanation takes too long. I trust you.”
Leonor’s voice was feebler, but she had stirred as if in pain about being relocated. Severus could ask the matron any time later. The water was boiling, and the ingredients needed to be crushed and cut. He rolled up his sleeves and started to work. He was concentrated on the potion when Leonor called him.
“Talk to me, anything ...”
He never talked while brewing, particularly not preparing an antidote. But Peter said something similar. “Don’t let her faint!”, had been his words.
“What stupid idea made you work with dragons?” It was the first thing coming to Severus’ mind, still scolding the lad sending the useless spell to the poor beast and causing more unnecessary pain. He heard Leonor almost laugh, but he couldn’t avoid feeling protective. Even the dangers in her past made him nervous. She started to talk, slowly, every word a strain, but went on with it with frequent pauses.
“I didn’t go there to work with dragons ... there’s a small wizards school and a hospital too … when I arrived from the U.S. … the ministry required me to solve a criminal case at Scotland Yard … it was my ticket to move to England ... the police suspected to have dark magic involved ... it’s been a clever muggle, a mass murderer, a psychopath, … a very ill mind … I supported the muggle profilers … but it had nothing to do with magic ... the deaths were solved in less than two months … I didn’t know what to do next … the support of the ministry vanished … I hardly knew anybody and luckily met Richard … he suggested a traineeship at Mungo’s … I did, but it fed me only a few months … I started at Gringotts to earn something and then decided to travel Europe with the money … I’ve been in France, Switzerland, Italy, but nowhere longer than half year … the last place was Romania … before being accepted taking the healer certification … a young dragon-keeper and Peter had been insured by the Horntail before … the female breeds every year … it has something to do with the hormones if the venom is produced … we believe it’s only to save the nest ... I found the antidote … but never published the study.”
The potion was boiling sending hot steam everywhere, the crushed and mixed magical ingredients had been added. Severus had to wait for a change of colour, but there was at least half an hour time.
“Leonor, you should go to the hospital wing …”, he turned and looked to the balled-up heap of misery. She shook the paper-white face almost imperceptible. The skin looked transparent and felt cold. Severus conjured a blanket growling to himself. Peter had sounded confident to have enough time, but it looked worse than expected. He couldn’t prod himself to force her to the ward sensing another odd wave of protectiveness.
“I want to change. There’s something in the wardrobe on the seventh floor”, she whispered crouching deeper into the armchair and under the blanked. Severus was lost in how to arrange it. The antidote needed his attention and Leonor shouldn’t be alone. Leonor seemed to sense his confusion.
“Conjure it, and send word to all headmasters … the children have to know where to find help.” He bent low to listen to the words. Leonor’s forehead was hot and glowing, despite the cold sweat on the skin. She had fever. Severus swallowed the lump in the throat before waving his wand and concentrating on an unknown wardrobe in the seventh floor. He closed his eyes channelling the magic through the wand and numerous walls of the castle. A pile of clothes bumped into his chest and dropped into a mess to the floor. He noticed the flowery scent, a perfume with the oil of a lily of the valley. The summoning charm had worked, and the idea of accidentally ridding Flitwick’s wardrobe was set aside. Leonor stirred in the armchair and sat up mobilizing all strength looking up into the dark and angry eyes.
“Severus, whatever you’ll do, it will be the right thing to do. Use your instincts, even if it’s awkward. The night will be tough. I’m not going to blame you for anything, alright? It’s just between us.”
Severus only nodded, unsure what it meant. He sensed to know nothing when turning his back to Leonor. Severus examined the potion turning slowly into a green and opaque liquid with a characteristic sweet smell. He reduced the heat and waited until the bubbles vanished. The antidote started to cool down. He cut the mandrakes with the silver knife to add them tinctured in sage into the dark shimmering cauldron. It would soon be ready, and he had to find the exact heat keeping the potion level with the drinking temperature. He listened to the sporadic sounds of swishing fabric and kept himself busy observing the antidote while writing a note to Dumbledore. Severus excused himself for the remainder of the day and asked to inform the matron, Igor and Madam Maxime. Madam Pomfrey needed to take over for a while. He exited the office and handed the message to the first student entering the entrance hall. A threatening look was enough to send the young Ravenclaw hurriedly up the stairs to search for the headmaster who would likely expect Severus to explain the incident. It could wait.
Leonor was once more curled under the blanket. The study dark and gloomy. The green shimmering light in the dungeons faded with the daylight. The air was humid from the boiling potion. Severus nursed the fire examining the office. The clothes lay folded in muggle fashion in a lower compartment of the bookshelf. Severus must have hexed the complete contents of the wardrobe from the seventh floor. It looked like moving in, a frightening and thrilling thought at once. He never wanted company, not after so much loss by own fault, not with so much at stake. Leonor had to survive the night and he had to cope with whatever it meant and after that it was over, and he would go his own way again.
The antidote was ready and a cup with the aromatic smelling liquid placed into Leonor’s clammy hands. Severus watched her drowning it at once and clinging on the warm outside while staring to the empty bottom. There was no immediate effect and Leonor fell apparently into another doze. He took the cup and returned to the workbench cleaning and checking once more the cauldron just to return to make sure she was alright given the circumstances. She had still high temperature, the skin felt warm now. The eyelids moved rapidly like thinking of something in a restless dream. His long slim fingers moved some of the dark hair out of the hot glowing forehead. She looked so fragile, so much different than usual. Severus just sat there and waited.
Unexpectedly Leonor rolled to the other side, sitting upright and straight to stare eerily like the man opposite was the enemy. She sized Severus at his robes and started punching and screaming. The actions originated from a mix of agony and self-defence. Severus recoiled taken aback by the sudden change. When regaining composure, he quickly cast a silencing spell around the room, better to let nobody hear and see. He hesitated to use a spell on Leonor. It felt so wrong and Severus shied away from the fists instead of taking his wand. It angered her more and more. He was already close to the wall and retreating further was no option anymore. Severus caught Leonor’s wrists with a few skilled moves ducking the punches quickly. She tried to wriggle herself free, but he was keeping the arms and pulling her close into a strong embrace while hoping it would calm her down. Leonor still raced, but Severus didn’t let go and brought her back to the armchair safely gripped with both arms and in his lap. It worked, she quieted floating into a steady breathing, sleeping. It was time for the next cup of antidote.
The evening turned into the night. Leonor was nothing of herself. The disoriented fury changed into the desire of close contact. Fighting the nightmares resulted in resistance. Holding her close hushed the demons away. The exhausting change of temper and the need to care for the antidote tired Severus. It felt like forever. It relaxed to embrace the woman, listening to the still body before the next helping was due, just to bring another round of chaos. It was wrong to touch her, it was wrong to stroke her back and to feel the soft skin below the fabric of the shirt. She couldn’t object to whatever he did, yet he sensed it was the only thing required to live through the strange toxic hallucinations. It was what he needed to continue defeating the dragon’s venom. The realization of why she had chosen the office over the hospital wing dawned in his mind. She knew it. The battle ended in the morning a short hour before the sunlight illuminated the hilltops around the Black Lake.
The place was cosy. A soft pillow adjusted Leonor’s head in a comfortable position. A blanket ensured a nice warmth. A male scent and a light snore tickled her nose and ears. An arm lay around her waist without adding weight, moving lazily from time to time and caressing her skin below the shirt. It felt like everything was right in the world. She snuggled closer to the body to hold on to the loving dream and drifted into another deep healing sleep.
Leonor dozed realizing the surroundings slowly. The twilight made spots in a warm golden light. She watched them moving until clouds covered the rays of sunshine with the dull bleakness of November. She recognized to have loads of space on a box spring mattress. The window was above the top sending the fading daylight of a late afternoon into the room. Ceiling high shelfs with books framed the king-size bed. Some space in the lower compartments was used like a bedside cabinet. Half-finished crosswords, pens and few recent periodicals were left in the dark wood and covered a stick looking like a handle of a wand. There was a wardrobe and two doors. Both stood little ajar without showing anything of the bordering rooms. It was quiet, and Leonor fell back into the numerous soft pillows. She recollected what happened and remembered vaguely to have left her wand on the workbench, she’d changed into shirt and sweat pants and took the first cup of the antidote. It tasted unusually fruity and sweet for an antidote, almost as aromatic as it smelled. There was no memory after that. The bed covers emitted a fresh masculine identity, a woody scent with a note of bamboo and mint, something she became addicted in her dream. Was it really a dream? The dragon-keeper; the young lad who unfortunately suffered the same injury was restless for weeks; saved from the poison, but fighting dire nightmares in every sleep. The antidote didn’t solve it. Peter’s wife saved her husband from the demons; she’d been caring and strong enough to hold him while his life was at stake. He recovered fast and the evil spirits vanished with the love.
Leonor rolled to her side, groping for the cut at her waist. There was a new loose bandage around the belly. She sat up and removed the patched-up dressing. The gash was closed; still dark from the dry blood. Leonor sighed in a fit of gratitude. Salty tears filled the dark eyes, blurring the room and rolling down the pale cheeks. He was her dream; he’d been here. The covers were still ruffled and creased from the other body. She never meant to spend a night with Severus, not that way, but it was an odd good sensation. Leonor took the slim jet-black stick from below the crosswords. It was as black as Severus’ hair and eyes. The handle felt comfortable in her small hand; the ebony wood giving a stark contrast to her skin and the white bed covers. Leonor put the wand back to its place realizing to have no clue about the day. She edged to the end of the bed putting her feet to a fleecy rug and taking her woollen socks from the floor. The knees felt powerless and supported the weight of the body reluctantly. The smaller door to the right led into a bathroom. Fresh towels lay on the washstand and a large candle illuminated the room in a romantic dim light. Leonor hesitated, forcing down new tears, the intimate atmosphere too much to handle. A wave of the hand switched on some torches. Leonor’s mirror image was much less worrying than expected. She put a splash of cold water into her face and continued to rinse head and hair completely in the refreshing iciness. She exhaled noisily, the life pulsating through the veins again.
Leonor pushed the door to the living room. She supposed to have some time before Severus returned from lessons. A two-seater sofa and two armchairs were placed half-round opposite a gorgeous fireplace. A rickety low side table stood on an elegant red carpet in between the seating. A long narrow window on the other wall showed snippets of the forest and the lake. It was large enough to light up the small room with daylight. The decoration was as sparsely as in Severus’ office, no paintings, no photographs, not even books. Leonor walked to the fire and put some wood to the flames watching the orange glow. It felt safe and peaceful until a piercing shriek startled her. Leonor turned to discover the sleeping house elf.
“Hattie! Are you alright?”, called Leonor. The elf sat in the edge of the sofa with a pillow pressed to the chest. The orb-like brown eyes protruded in shock, the body quivering like leaves in a cool breeze.
“Mistress … is awake and Hattie didn’t inform Master Snape … Hattie needs to punish herself … Hattie was not allowed to sleep and forgot …”, more words suffocated in dry sobs. The elf’s tiny arms rounded the woman’s legs while beating the head against Leonor’s shins.
“Stop it, Hattie! I’ll get bruises from your forehead. Your master will be here soon.” Leonor smiled a warm smile considering the innocent eyes of the little creature.
“Master told Hattie that Mistress is very, very ill, but Mistress doesn’t look ill.” The elf kneaded its knuckles and tilted the head in anticipation of an answer.
“I was very ill, but I’m healed, Hattie. We wait for Severus to return from teaching, right?”
The elf put more birch wood to the fire and removed some ash from the stone tiles before starting to dust the mantelpiece and the furniture. Leonor placed herself into one battered leather armchair staring to the flames. Hattie watched her every now and then. Leonor felt tense and started to talk to distract herself from being helpless.
“How long have I been here?”, asked Leonor, uncomfortable about the outcome before knowing it.
“Master called me yesterday morning before lessons, but Master didn’t allow Hattie to see Mistress. He wanted to be informed if Mistress woke up.”
“You’ve been here the whole day?”
“Master kept watch over Mistress during the night. Master made Hattie swear to tell everybody that Mistress is sleeping on the seventh floor. Hattie keeps the secrets”, answered the elf proudly.
“Thank you”, said Leonor in a low voice.
“Master was very tired and worried. He never comes to this room before bedtime. Is Mistress really healthy?” The elf tilted the overlarge head as if in doubt.
“Yes, I am”, said Leonor thoughtfully.
“Hattie, please can you leave me alone? I’ll tell that I dismissed you. I like to rest a bit.”
“If it’s the wish of Mistress …” The elf bowed and eyed Leonor suspiciously before exiting the room with a little pop.
Charity Burbage entered the staff room in her usual cheerful manner. Severus leafed through the Daily Prophet, hoping Rita Skeeter got no wind of the toxic dragon. It would make a famous story once the gossip about Potter cooled a bit.
“Severus … anything new what we didn’t see with our own eyes?”, said Charity. Severus only grunted.
“How’s Leonor?”, she asked bluntly and most of the heads in the staff room turned to listen.
“I hope better”, answered Severus with a mocking sneer closing the newspaper.
“Really Severus, we all like to help … you cannot leave everything to the elf … at least Poppy should have a look …”, moaned Charity.
Severus turned on his heels slightly amused: “I’m sure Leonor will appreciate all visits once she’s able to recognize you.”
He left through the door with a curt nod to the other teachers and passed the gargoyles swiftly to attend a boring dinner with Igor. Dumbledore wanted him to tail Igor, as if Severus wouldn’t know to keep an eye on him anyway. Igor was too cowardly to even touch precious Potter below Dumbledore’s nose. Karkaroff would be save if the ‘chosen one’ could blow the Dark Lord and his followers away. It would grant a relaxed life. A tiny noise from behind a suit of armour made Severus stop. Hattie stood hidden in the darkness, observing the floor anxiously.
“You should be in the dungeons! I’ll be down soon”, hissed Severus in a low dangerous voice.
“Mistress is awake!” The elf whispered the words afraid Master would be scolding, cautious to make sure nobody could eavesdrop. She had to vanish as soon as somebody would walk along the corridor. Severus narrowed his eyes at Hattie, searching the elf’s expression thoroughly. She started to fumble nervously at the tea towel around her waist, but he went down the stairs without a word. The fabric of the cloak swishing and billowing by the brisk pace imposingly.
Severus entered the hidden passageway behind the alcove without even touching his wand. The thick stone wall retreated at once just to close seconds later invisible for anybody else. He stopped right before the door with one hand on the handle, thinking. He couldn’t just run into the room. Well-prepared words raced through his mind. The stately door opened without a creak under the spell. The flames sent dancing shadows to the stone tiled floor. Leonor lazed in his favourite armchair breathing steadily. She was asleep. The long dark hair was stringy and wet, the cheeks rosy and relaxed. Severus leaned against the mantelpiece, watching. How could he bring her here? He’d taken Leonor into his arms and carried the lifeless body to his room shielding her even from Dumbledore’s eyes. He had been weak, witless … and returned the other night to sleep deep and dreamless for hours he’d never slept in one row before. What he had done was real, but no fact; she wouldn’t know. The scent of the fragile lily of the valley didn’t leave him alone. She trusted him and returned like a yo-yo. Pushing free resulted in fighting his inner self against the need to care for her while realizing to be a man scowling and frowning at himself more than at all students together. A person he never wished to be. He was unsure what made him more nervous, the truth about his callous outward self or losing it while savouring the female company in every sense of the word.
“Severus …”, said Leonor, earning a smirk while he looked her up and down masking the protective feeling inside.
“Scott, time to move to your quarters.”
Leonor positioned herself upright, obviously surprised about the salty tone.
“I’m hungry. I’d like to go home. It worked out, I was very lucky, Severus”, she studied his dark eyes likely noticing the subtle change of emotions. He overlaid them quickly with a lazy and silky voice.
“The castle is under the assumption you’ve spent the last two days on the seventh floor, unconscious, traumatized, supported by Hattie. I told them you sleep the venom off after taking the antidote. You know no detail, nor do I and the elf is bound to the ancient magic of their race. Do I make myself plain?”
“Naturally, Snape …”, she replied defiantly and cold, “… I suppose you slept badly last night?”
“No.” The words escaped before the mind processed the question. And she was looking through him, again. Severus felt like an open book, guilty and insecure if the blame was for keeping her warm last night or the intension to never meet again. What did she know?
“Here, a letter from Peter. Write him soon, he’s worried sick … you both knew”, the bitterness was difficult to hide.
“Anything else I should do or not do?”
“Take the Floo from my office. I connected the fireplaces to ‘transport’ you safely to your quarters. I’ll inform Dumbledore about your recovery.”
She walked briskly through the door. Severus followed close. Watching her backside tortured him. He would have liked to say something to make her stay, but it was best to let her go. He expected her to throw the powder into the flames immediately, but she turned with a vanquished expression.
“Yes, me and Peter knew. Would it make a difference if we’d told you? Sev, you did more than I could expect, and I had no right to ask for it. I’m more than grateful and I could tell you now, but it seems my company is not pleasant enough.”
The Floo Powder created green blazing flames and Leonor spoke clearly the destination before spinning and vanishing from the Potion Masters office. Severus growled, walking determinedly to the Great Hall.
The dining hall was noisy and full of students. Severus disliked eating in the crowd. The enchanted ceiling reflected the unfriendly and wintery cold night. The sight was as ill-tempered as Severus’ inside tumult of emotions.
“Headmaster …”, said Severus with a firm voice and a curt bow “… Mrs. Scott recouped from the toxic effect. I expect her to return to work soon.”
“Severus, very good news indeed. I suppose the patient visits will commence soon.”
Dumbledore smiled widely along the staff table. Charity and Pomona looked delighted and shot more inquisitive looks towards the black clad potions master. Severus only rolled the eyes before sitting next to Igor. Karkaroff straightened himself and expressed a false gratitude for saving the brown-haired witch. Severus narrowed his eyes, but Igor changed the topic and finished dinner soon after.
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