OPEN UP: A HARRY POTTER FAN-FICTION STORY
By Elise Stripling (alias Noisey Heiffer)
Word Count: 3591
Rating: PG for mild violence and disturbing imagery
Summary: After being punished by Voldemort, Severus Snape is forced to seek help at a muggle dentist office, run by none other than Hermione Granger and her mother.
Cool summer moonlight shone through the long windows of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, casting weird shadows across the floor. It was very late at night, and the school was empty. Along with the students, most of the faculty was on holiday. There certainly seemed to be no one about. Not even Mrs. Norris was wandering.
Severus staggered down the corridor towards the hospital wing holding a bloody handkerchief to his broken mouth. Unable to summon help, he could only hope that the school matron would be there. Finally, he reached the infirmary, where he sat wearily on a cot and lay back with exhaustion. He closed his eyes, the pain nearly unbearable.
“What in the world—?” Suddenly, Poppy Pomfrey was bending over him. She pulled away the blood-soaked rag, clucking in dismay, as she surveyed his mouth. “Severus—no, hold still, young man—” As she noted the damage, her heart bled for the tight-lipped professor, who she’d known since he was a scrawny child of eleven.
Savagely shoving her emotions to the back, she adopted a cool, professional tone as she summarized her findings. “Your jaw is broken in a couple of places, as are two of your molars. Can you sit up?”
She marched briskly to the potions cabinet and pulled out two small bottles. Quickly, she returned and handed him the vials. He gazed at them suspiciously.
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake! I’m not likely to poison you! Besides, you brewed them.” Poppy pointed to yellow liquid. “The sedative is so I can set your jaw back in place. Without it and the pain relieving potion—” she pointed to the blue vial “—it would hurt like hell,” she told him bluntly. “While you’re asleep, I can set your jaw, but Severus, I’m afraid I can do nothing for the broken teeth in back. You’ll need to see a Muggle doctor.”
Dutifully, he downed both potions and groaned. ” ‘ugga enis’? ‘slootly nah,” he mumbled. His bloodstained hand rose to catch the bloody drool leaking from his rapidly bruising mouth.
With practiced hands, she prevented him from rising. “Now, Severus, just lay back.” She held him there a moment, knowing to the second just when the sedative would work. Slowly, the younger wizard spiraled down into a controlled collapse, allowing Poppy to set his broken jaw and send a Patronus to the Headmaster.
The staccato clacking of Albus Dumbledore’s shoes beat in counterpoint to the sharp click of Minerva McGonagall’s heels as they walked quickly across the stone floors. Their rapid pace brought them into the room just as the sun was rising. The first beams of sunlight, peering hesitantly through the infirmary widows, shone fully upon the reclining Potions Master.
Deep blue-purple bruises covered both sides of his normally sallow face all along the jaw line. Then, they spread upward and outward, blending into a sickly green and yellow towards his eye sockets. His cheeks were red and swollen, and there were still flecks of blood at the corners of his mouth. His face looked like a storm-ridden sunset.
Dumbledore ran a hand down his beard. “Oh, Severus,” he addressed him concernedly. “What happened?”
Severus Snape lifted a droopy eyelid and peered drunkenly at the Headmaster. “Oh,” he said brightly although his speech was slurred, “‘shlordshi din peshate muh govlin’.” His bloody-toothed smile was gruesome.
Minerva frowned and shook her head. “Severus,” she chided gently, “don’t joke about it. I don’t find it humorous in the least.”
Poppy pushed back a lock of hair that had flopped into her face and heaved a sigh. “It’s the pain potion,” she explained. “I’ve had to give him quite a lot so I could set his jaw.”
“Dar’ Lor’ wonner why I din show’p whun he ‘tu’n,” he mumbled, his tongue thick with painkillers. He lay back on the pillows and closed his eyes.
Dumbledore shook his head sadly. “Poppy,” he said softly, “what does the boy need?”
She sighed and began untying her dirty apron. “What he needs is to open up to someone! Anyone! He just needs to open up and find someone to love him!” she whisper-yelled. Her face was reddening with anger as she snatched the apron off and balled it up in her fist. “You ask too much of that poor boy, and—” She broke off to gesture at the sleeping wizard with her fisted apron.
“I know, Poppy, I know,” Dumbledore said, interrupting her tirade. “But he’s the only spy we have, and he chose to help us voluntarily.” He held out his hands to stop her from exploding in rage. “Besides, Poppy, he’s a grown man, as I’m sure he’ll be only too quick to tell you.”
Poppy ground her teeth in anger, but she could not deny his words. She huffed and took her time to respond. “All right,” she stated slowly, “there are two broken molars in the back that I cannot fix. He needs to see a Muggle tooth healer.”
“Hermione Granger’s parents are Muggle dentists,” Minerva said, her lips pinched in anger. She glared at Albus and stepped to Poppy’s side. “We can take him there today.”
Poppy looked timidly at her friend. “Minerva, I know nothing of the Muggle world. I wouldn’t have the first idea of how to—”
Minerva smiled in understanding and patted Poppy’s arm. “I understand,” she told her, “and I’m sure I can handle Severus by myself. You go write up some sort of medical report I can give to the Grangers.” She turned to look at Albus. “Well, don’t just stand there. Help me get him appropriately dressed.”
“Severus?” Minerva asked gently. She had just apparated them behind the brick building housing the Granger dental practice. “Severus? Are you all right? Can you make it?”
Perplexity, pride, and pain warred within him. Forcing his shoulders back, he straightened his spine. He wasn’t sure where they were, but he trusted Minerva and nodded. The throbbing in his mouth and head increased with the sudden movement, bringing tears to his eyes.
“Aye,” she murmured to him, “there’s my brave laddie.” Then she ordered, “Help an old lady to the door, Severus.”
He stared at her with an angry yet thankful glare. He knew that she demanded this of him not because she was an old lady. Minerva McGonagall would never admit to being an old lady. No, she did this because she knew how badly he was hurting and that, in his fierce pride, he’d never open up and admit it.
Severus took the easy out she gave him. He reached for her arm and, leaning on her strength, they walked around to the front entrance.
Just as they reached the door, Snape’s knees buckled. Minerva pressed him against the wall and cast a surreptitious alohomora. Before she could open the door, however, it swung open to reveal a surprised Hermione Granger. She stood with her mouth hanging open, the office keys in her hands.
“Oh, Professor McGonagall,” Hermione blurted out, “good morning.” The keys dropped with a metallic jangle as she noted the condition of Professor Snape. Stooping quickly to retrieve them, she stood up and held the door open wide for her teachers. “Oh, come in, please.” She jammed the keys into her pocket.
“Do you need help with him?” She pointed at Professor Snape with her chin. Minerva only nodded, and Hermione stepped forward without hesitation. Quickly taking Snape’s left arm, she helped McGonagall guide him into the room.
They settled him into a chair by the wall, where he slumped back. “Can one of your parents see him?” Minerva McGonagall inquired. “Professor Snape is in a good deal of pain.”
Hermione scurried around to the reception desk. “During summer break, I usually fill in for my parents’ receptionist to give her some time off,” she babbled nervously. She’d never seen anyone look as bad as Professor Snape. Turning around she called out, “Mum? I have an emergency here.”
Grudgingly, Severus allowed Minerva and the Granger girl to assist him down the hallway into a small examination room. Dropping into the blue plastic chair, he heaved a sigh, closed his eyes, and gripped the armrests.
“Mum will be here in a moment,” Hermione said. “She’s reading Madam Pomfrey’s letter.” A long, painful silence filled the room. “I like your outfit, Professor McGonagall,” she added awkwardly in an effort to break the tense quiet.
McGonagall smiled briefly at the girl. “Thank you,” she replied. “I wasn’t sure of current Muggle fashion, but you can never go wrong with a classic A-line skirt and blouse.”
“And Professor Snape,” Hermione said, swallowing nervously, “I’ve never seen him looking so…” She paused, her eyes flickering across his prone form. She’d never seen him out of his professor’s robes before. In fact, she was astonished to see him in black slacks and a long-sleeved green dress shirt.
Slowly, Severus Snape peeled open his eyes and glared at the girl. “S’wha?” he snarled.
Hermione blushed. “So nice,” she said, her voice cracking to end on a high note.
“Good morning, Mr. Snape,” a kind, feminine voice greeted him. The woman, somewhere in her late 40’s, swiveled into view. She placed a calming hand on his arm. “I’m Dr. Sue Granger, Hermione’s mother,” she told him gently. “I’m a dentist, and I understand you’ve been brought here to repair two broken molars.”
The Potions Master gazed into the placid blue eyes of Dr. Granger, assessing the woman. He let go of the armrests and settled his hands peacefully across his stomach, forcing himself to rest. He nodded and slowly opened his mouth with a low moan.
Minerva, brow wrinkled in maternal concerned, touched him lightly on the shoulder, garnering his attention. “Severus, has the pain potion worn off? Are you in pain?”
He shut his eyes for a moment, opened them, and nodded.
Dr. Sue Granger grimaced. “Fixing the teeth will not be a problem,” she assured McGonagall. “However, I am very concerned about the pain he is in. Do you think it would be better for him to come back once his jaw has completely healed?”
Minerva laid a cool hand on Snape’s forehead and smoothed back his hair. Severus merely closed his eyes and relaxed. It was a testament to just how much pain the man was suffering that he didn’t fling off her hand. She clucked her tongue and shook her head. “No,” she answered steadily, “if we don’t take care of those teeth now, he’ll never return to get them fixed.”
Dr. Granger looked thoughtful for a moment. “Mr. Snape,” she spoke directly to her patient. His blood-shot, pain-filled eyes opened. “Along with a localized injection, I can give you an intravenous sedative which will put you to sleep through the entire procedure, and I’ll give you a script for some strong painkillers.”
He growled fiercely, though it sounded more like a gurgle. “Ju’ fich de da’ tee’. Uh poo ’em ow. Uh don’ cah!” He squeezed his eyes shut.
Exchanging meaningful looks with McGonagall over her reclining patient, Dr. Sue Granger shook her head. Turning, she said, “Please bring me an I.V. for sedation.” Rapidly, she donned a pair of latex gloves and prepared a syringe. “Open up, please, as wide as you can,” she instructed Snape, “and hold still. I’ll be as quick as I can.”
Eyes still closed, Severus gingerly opened his mouth. He gripped the armrests of the chair as waves of pain shot through him. Forcing himself to remain still, he felt a sharp stinging in several places in his mouth. Soon an unpleasant numbing sensation spread out in icy waves over his lips and cheeks.
As he began to relax, he was able to concentrate on the sounds and smells around him. He knew that McGonagall had moved somewhere near his feet. He could smell the floral scent she always wore. That slight rustling on his left side must be Dr. Granger setting up the I.V. He could feel her soft, feminine hands rolling up his sleeves. A sharp inrush of air told him that she had seen his Dark Mark.
His eyes flew open to see, not Dr. Granger, as he had expected, but Hermione standing there. He tried to order the silly little girl with her ridiculous hair out of the room, but his mouth was numb, and the words wouldn’t form. Then, miraculously, the girl collected herself and proceeded like a professional.
Looking directly into his eyes, she gave him a courteous and well-trained smile. Hermione continued rolling up the sleeve of his forest green shirt, then, looking to her mother, she nodded. “Everything is set for the I.V.”
“Thank you, Hermione,” Dr. Granger said automatically. The woman stepped forward and glanced at her patient, noting the anxiety in his eyes. “I don’t know how much you understand about Muggle medical practices,” she explained. “I want to alleviate any fears or concerns you might have. I’m going to administer a sedative to you. To do this, I’ll be inserting a needle—”
Minerva McGonagall interrupted her. “Professor Snape is a half-blood. Like myself, he grew up in the Muggle world.” She patted Snape’s foot. “Isn’t that right, Severus?”
He nodded at Dr. Granger, who quickly checked and inserted the I.V. Glaring forcefully at the Granger girl, he tried his best to frighten her into not speaking one single word about the evil tattoo.
Bizarrely enough, she did not in the least seem intimidated. In fact, the insufferable know-it-all seemed to understand exactly what he meant. She smiled sadly at him and nodded.
Minerva, who was intently watching the scene between the two of them, again patted his foot. “It’s all right, Severus,” she said softly. “Just close your eyes, open your mouth, and it’ll soon be over.”
Severus obeyed. He was beginning to feel odd and out of focus. Inhaling deeply, he cut his eyes towards Minerva. His body was relaxing, and his senses reported to him as if from a distance.
“His teeth are in bad shape,” Dr. Granger said. Snape knew she was touching his mouth, but it was blessedly numb. “When’s the last time he saw a dentist?”
Minerva hummed. “Never, would be my guess.” She met the doctor’s eyes. “He grew up rough.”
Dr. Granger nodded her understanding. Methodically, she set out the instruments on a tray. “What happened to him?” she asked softly, hesitantly.
Severus was angry at the two women, discussing him like that. But at the moment, with the lovely medication running through his veins, he couldn’t summon the energy to care. The soft whisper of clothing, the metallic clanking of dental equipment— these sounds blending with their voices were the last things he heard as he was swallowed by deep sleep.
Faint, feminine voices filtered into his brain. Severus Snape struggled to open his eyes, but he could only hear the soft, gentle sounds.
“. . . a good man,” some woman insisted.
“A spy?” a wondering voice asked.
“. . . familiar with spies . . .” another woman said.
A tender hand on his brow relaxed him, and he again let go, spiraling down to rest. But the rest was short-lived. Less than twenty minutes later, he once more fought towards wakefulness. But, as before, he was only able to rouse his hearing; his eyelids just wouldn’t obey. This time he was aware of women arguing. He furrowed his brow, trying to put names to the voices.
“. . . don’t like it,” a wary woman argued, “and I don’t want my daughter involved.”
“. . . both worked on Her Majesty’s secret service,” a younger, shriller voice returned. “Why shouldn’t I . . .”
Severus drifted away again.
Severus slowly awoke to find himself semi-reclined in a blue plastic chair. A bright, rectangular light hung over him, painfully jabbing into his eyes. A metal arm holding a tray filled with bizarre metal implements extended outward just above his chest. He remained deathly still, unsure of exactly where he was and what was happening.
“Mum,” the Granger girl whispered, “he’s coming ’round.”
“Mr. Snape?” a cool, professional voice asked. “How are you feeling?”
Snape blinked and squinted. Instantly the light was removed. “Better,” he rasped out. He blinked a few more times and cleared his throat. “Minerva,” he said firmly, “it’s time to leave.” Sitting upright, he twisted in the chair to set his feet on the floor.
“Oh, no, you don’t,” Dr. Granger retorted. Moving quickly, she grabbed a foot with one hand, a shoulder with the other, and she pushed him back into the chair. In spite of his glare, she told him, “If you try to get up now, you’ll land on your face.”
“Nevertheless, Madam,” he snapped angrily, his words only slightly slurred, “I wish to leave, and—”
Dr. Granger immediately released him and pointed to her daughter. “Fine,” she replied coolly, “if you want your student to see you hit the floor, by all means, do what you want.” Deliberately, she turned away from him and spoke to McGonagall. “Is he always so pigheaded?”
“How dare you?” Snape sputtered. He did not move from the chair.
“Yes,” Minerva answered her with a slight chuckle in her voice. “The boy was always bad about having to do things his own way, disregarded the rules whenever he felt like it.” She clucked her tongue. “And he’s only worsened with age.”
“Humph,” Dr. Granger replied, “he sounds quite a lot like my daughter.”
Over her shoulder, Minerva shot an amused look at the objects of their discussion, and then she took the doctor by the arm. “Perhaps we should discuss payment in your office.” Together they left the examination room, leaving a fuming Snape and a shocked Hermione behind.
The true objects of his wrath no longer available, Snape turned his patented death glare on the girl. To his satisfaction, she flinched.
“I’ll just go check on—”
“You will stay,” he ordered her imperiously, his voice still raspy. He cleared his throat twice and tempered his tone of voice. “Might I ask you for a—”
“— glass of water,” she finished the sentence for him. “Of course.” In her hurry to find a cup and fill it for him, she missed his annoyance that she dared anticipate his need. “Be careful,” she warned as she handed him the blue waxed paper cup, “your mouth is probably still a little numb.”
He wanted to make a scathing reply, but her words halted him. He’d never been to a dentist before, so he was unsure what to expect. “Thank you,” he told her as he took the cup. His good manners earned him an overly-bright Gryffindor smile. Carefully, he brought it to his lips and sipped.
Although the water was cool and soothing to his parched mouth and throat, he instantly understood her warning. Swallowing was a difficult maneuver as drops of water began to dribble from the still numb corners of his mouth. Embarrassment did not improve his mood.
“The numbness should wear off by dinner,” she told him gently, matter-of-factly, while handing him a tissue to wipe his chin. “Just sip slowly so you don’t choke.”
He stared at her darkly, watching her swallow with nervous dread, but in true Gryffindor fashion, she did not back down. Hesitantly, he took the napkin and wiped his chin. Then, he took another few sips. “Thank you, again,” he said softly.
“Professor,” she responded gingerly, “I want you to know that I understand.” She held up her own left arm. “I understand the pressure you’re under, and I won’t say a word to anyone.”
He glowered at her, hating that she knew his secret. “And just what is it that you think you understand, you stupid little girl?”
A spark of anger and defiance flickered in her brown eyes and flashed across her face. “Insults aside,” she retorted, raising her chin, “I understand that you are not really a Death Eater, that you are spying for—” She stopped as she saw the edge of fear flicker in his black eyes. She clamped her lips together and nodded at him. “I just, well, I just understand.”
He thought for a sliver of a moment about casting an obliviate on her, about using legilimens on her. But he could see only honesty and integrity in her. She did understand him, it seemed. He nodded abruptly and handed her back the empty cup.
“Well, Mr. Snape,” Dr. Granger said, as she and McGonagall entered the room, “I think you might be able leave now.” She reached down to help him stand up. “You’ll be a bit wobbly for a while, so don’t make any important decisions today. Rest, drink fluids, and don’t hesitate to return if you have any problems.”
Snape allowed her to help him stand and swayed a bit on his feet. He reached out for the wall, but he found McGonagall’s steady arm instead. “Thank you, Dr. Granger,” he said stiffly. “Miss Granger.” He nodded at the girl.
“Help an old lady apparate home?” Minerva asked him with a kind smile.
The corners of his mouth lifted ever so slightly, shocking and secretly pleasing Hermione. “Of course,” he replied with a charming nod of his head. “After you.”
Minerva wrapped one arm firmly around his shoulders. “Thank you both,” she told the Granger women just before she apparated them away.