Disclaimer: I'm not muscling in on JK's turf - just gambolling on it, like a spring lamb, having fun working out the literary and psychological puzzles which she is having fun setting us
Lost and Found began life as an attempt to re-write the ending of this Darkfic:
Missing in Action (by Sheriff of Nottingham)
Lost and Found picks up where Missing in Action ends, except that a rationale for Snape's initial capture has been worked in, and the dates have been changed slightly to have the story take place while Harry and co. are still at school, whereas the original seems to be set a year or two later. The plot of Missing in Action (with minor edits) can be summarised as follows:
Some time subsequent to the Ministry battle at the end of OotP, the Daily Prophet published a story claiming that Snape was a Death Eater, and Dumbledore defended him, stating publicly that Snape was his agent (which would not in itself necessarily prevent Snape from continuing to spy on Voldemort, since Voldemort knows that Dumbledore thinks Snape is his agent, but it would arouse the suspicions of Snape's fellow Death Eaters). During a raid on Hogwarts by Death Eaters Snape disappears, and the Prophet takes this as proof that it had been right all along, and claims that Snape had master-minded the raid and then gone back to his true master. Harry is convinced that the Prophet is right but Dumbledore tells him angrily that when Lupin dropped out of sight for a while he didn't assume that Lupin had betrayed the Order, and if he wouldn't think it of Lupin he shouldn't think it of Snape.
Four months later, Snape's barely-living body is dumped in one of the Potions store-rooms to await discovery, burned with acid, missing his left arm and leg and his right leg below the knee, with the corners of his mouth slit right back to the jaw and his belly sliced open and breeding maggots. He has been silenced so that he could not scream or call for help, and has probably been lying there for a day or more. He is so weak and dazed with pain that the students and substitute-teacher who find him think they've found his mutilated corpse, and at first even Madam Pomfrey isn't sure he's still alive.
During his captivity he has been starved to the point of death and forced to remain awake and aware the whole time, and a gloating letter from Voldemort reveals that he has also been the sexual plaything of most of the Death Eaters (and also claims, in passing, that Snape had been Sirius's lover and had had to cope with his grief all alone). He has been magically-bound so that he can't be healed and no pain-killers will work on him, and so that he will remain alive no matter what is done to him - although the latter curse is wearing off. Much to Harry's horror and guilt, Pomfrey and Dumbledore can do nothing for Snape except keep him company, even though he is far too stunned by pain to appreciate it, and wait for him to die.
Chapter 1: A Doctor in the House
Harry, horrified by Snape's injuries, suggests that even if magical healing can't help him there might be Muggle methods that could, and that Hermione would know more about this (because her parents are both dentists). Hermione suggests calling in her future brother-in-law, a young trainee surgeon from Newcastle, called Adrian, who should at least know if it is possible to help Snape, and who (as a family member of a Muggle-born witch) would not have to be Obliviated afterwards.
Adrian draws up a list of medical supplies which he will need and Rosmerta, Lupin and Tonks are sent off to get them. As Snape is in appalling pain and racked by convulsions, and it will take about half an hour for the supplies to arrive, Adrian asks Hermione if any of the students at Hogwarts are taking heroin and gets an answer in the affirmative. But even heroin does nothing to reduce Snape's agony - it seems that Voldemort's spell which prevents Snape from being healed or comforted applies to Muggle medicines as well, which means that even the pain-killers which are being fetched from the hospital wouldn't work.
In desperation, Adrian asks Poppy Pomfrey if she would be able to heal a broken back, and when she says that she would he gets her to cut Snape's spinal cord, preventing him from feeling anything below chest-height. That still leaves him aware of an extensive area of burning and the injuries to his face but he can no longer feel the gut wound, which had been the main source of his agony.
While all this is going on, Hermione suggests that since the touch of a unicorn's horn traditionally is able to clean poisons out of any container of liquid, it might be used to clean infection-toxins out of Snape's bloodstream. While Hermione herself is otherwise engaged, trying to find out the correct dosage for heroin, Harry admits to being the only virgin in the room and is sent off to help Hagrid summon a unicorn, and Bill Weasley is called in to see if he can break the curses preventing Snape from being healed.
Chapter 2: Emergency Ward 9¾
Once the medical supplies arrive Adrian is able to get Snape on a drip, which will help to rehydrate and feed him, combat the infection in his wounds with antibiotics etc.. But Snape's condition is very precarious. He is so dehydrated that he has gone into partial renal failure. Worse, the effort of combating the burns is putting a huge demand on his system, he is already desperately thin and the gut-wound means that Adrian is unable to feed him other than through the drip. Since Snape can no longer feel it Adrian actually prefers to leave the gut-wound open for a day or two to allow the maggots to continue their work of snipping away any necrosed tissue, since that means the wound will heal much cleaner and faster once it is stitched.
Adrian dresses Snape's burns with Muggle wound-dressings, which at least makes him a lot more comfortable, and when Harry returns they take Snape to see the unicorn, cut a vein in his remaining thigh (which he can no longer feel) and get the unicorn to dip his horn into the cut. This does cleanse Snape's system of toxins and also reduces the build-up of sodium and potassium in his blood. He is still very sick, but when the spell which is forcing him to stay alive wears off he does somehow keep on breathing, as he has been ordered to do by McGonagall - even though he is still too stunned by pain and horror and exhaustion really to recognize her.
He is however capable of recognizing the difference between calmness and cruelty. Adrian's soothing, singsong Geordie accent seems to steady him, and Hermione is able to groom the mats out of his hair (with a special mat-splitting tool she normally uses on Crookshanks) and to wash it without panicking him.
Chapter 3: Speaking in Tongues
The following morning, Adrian calls in sick to the hospital where he works, so that he will be able to stay with Snape round the clock until he is either stable or dead. Snape is calmer and more comfortable than on the previous night but he is becoming weaker due to the burns, his lungs are filling up with fluid and he requires extra oxygen to help him breath - especially after Molly Weasley Floos in to fuss over him and Ron bounds up to her so suddenly and loudly that he literally frightens Snape into convulsions.
Adrian and Poppy perform interim repairs on Snape's gashed mouth, and with assistance from McGonagall they work out a way of using the unicorn effect that doesn't involve cutting Snape again for every session, but really all they can do is try to keep his condition from deteriorating any faster as they wait for Bill Weasley and Filius Flitwick to find some way of breaking the curses.
On the second day after Snape's return, Adrian decides that the gut-wound is ready for surgery - a complex process which takes all afternoon. Bill and Filius realize that part of the hex-matrix has to be undone in parseltongue, and with Harry's help they are able to break the curses, enabling Snape to lose consciousness, to be heard and to be healed. Poppy begins the healing-process on the surgical incisions and on the burns, and she and Adrian repair Snape's face as he drifts off to sleep.
Chapter 4: Waking Dreams
Having been freed from the curse which had forced him to stay awake for four months, Snape sleeps for five days solid, and has to be fed through a naso-gastric tube. Although he is still very weak and frail, now that Poppy Pomfrey is able to perform healing magic on him his condition improves steadily, and when he awakes he is much more alert and aware of his surroundings.
This is a mixed blessing, as it means that he is much more easily scared, and he also begins to suffer from raving, screaming nightmares. Only Adrian and Hermione are able to do much with him without frightening him into fits. Now that he is able to eat, at least a little, Adrian brings him wine which he does appreciate, so Hermione suggests surrounding him with pleasant stimuli - music, scented oils etc. - to coax him out of his confused state. This is working quite well until a Quidditch player is brought into the infirmary with serious injuries, and the smell of blood sends Snape straight back into blind, mindless panic.
Now that he is fairly medically stable he is moved back down to his own quarters, in the hopes that this will prove to be a more relaxing environment, but he is still very badly shaken. However, Minerva McGonagall finally manages to get through to him and get him to recognize her, and he collapses weeping in her arms and tells her that he doesn't know whether she is real or not, because Voldemort had tormented him with false images of her and of Albus Dumbledore.
Now that Snape is medically stable and showing signs of still having a coherent mind, however traumatized, Dumbledore stands up at the Hallowe'en Feast and tells the school for the first time that what they had found, seventeen days beforehand, was Snape's living body - not his corpse.
Chapter 5: Stone Walls Do Not a Prison Make
As soon as the school knows that Snape is alive but very sick, Neville and Luna both volunteer to help look after him: Neville because he has experience of dealing with his own parents and knows how to behave around people traumatized by torture, and Luna just on a whim. Luna appoints herself as Snape's reader, and being read to does seem to help him.
A party of Slytherins, led by Pansy Parkinson and Gregory Goyle, decide to guard Snape's quarters in case of further attacks on him, and are highly suspicious of Hermione turning up on her way to visit. They march her in to see Snape in order to get proof that she does have his permission to be there, and are horrified by his poor condition.
He is still drifting in and out of focus but his episodes of lucidity are getting longer, and he actually surfaces enough to make a catty remark about Lupin. He talks to Dumbledore, fairly coherently, and asks that the walls should be covered with tapestries, so he doesn't have to wake up surrounded by bare stone which looks like a cell. Very embarrassed, he also tells Dumbledore that it helps him to focus and remember that he is free if somebody holds him all the time.
Chapter 6: Holding On
Being held does help Snape to remain focussed but he is horribly ashamed of what he sees as his own weakness, and is still very frail. There is some doubt as to whether it is suitable for Hermione, Neville and Luna to hold him through the night but Luna points out that they are all of age, and have already been doing so unofficially in any case.
Now that he is reasonably coherent most of the time, Snape is provided with a new wand: a highly emotional moment, even though he is too weak as yet really to use it. Angry at what he perceives as his own weakness, he snarls and snaps and thinks it would have been better if he had died.
As his mind becomes more coherent so do his memories, and he starts to have specific flashbacks and dreams of what the Death Eaters did to him. Minerva comforts him through a violent nightmare by turning into a cat.
Chapter 7: Sleeptalking
It is nearly two months on from his traumatic return to Hogwarts, and Snape is now well enough to start being a bit snappy, to feed himself and to discuss a temporary replacement for the job of Potions master. Dumbledore is thinking of asking Horace Slughorn.
Snape now has the energy and concentration to talk to people coherently, and he and Adrian are beginning to be friends rather than just doctor/patient. When Lupin visits to see how he is, they have a conversation which reveals that Snape had lied to Voldemort about being in a relationship with Sirius, in order to explain his having alerted the Order to the fight at the Ministry.
Early in December Snape suffers a particularly bad flashback during the night, which leaves him uncertain as to what is a dream and what is real. In an effort to anchor him, Hermione gets him talking about Arithmancy, and as she listens to him, confident and sure in his subject, she realizes to her horror that she is in love with him.
A sudden appearance by Dobby finally convinces Snape that this is the real reality and he truly is safely back at Hogwarts - since he would be unlikely to hallucinate anything quite so bizarre. Dobby's appearance is so very sudden (and bizarre) that it makes Snape yelp, and Hermione charges out of the bathroom to rescue him, clad only in a towel - to her great chagrin and his great amusement.
Chapter 8: What Hermione Did Next
Hermione is mortified both by having a crush on Snape and at having been seen nearly naked; he on the other hand is still secretly rather amused.
Flitwick begins measuring Snape for prosthetic limbs, which should be a hopeful development, and he begins doing a little light potion-making again; but the thought of his own disability and (as he sees it) uselessness, and the knowledge of the fate Lucius and Peter had had planned for him to mark the approaching Christmas holiday, prey on his mind until he becomes distraught. Hermione is very upset about her own inability to help him much.
Snape is simultaneously touched and unnerved to receive proper presents, and to be both host and honoured guest at a Christmas get-together in his quarters. A chance remark reminds him too vividly that the Death Eaters had intended to give him to Albus as a Christmas present, limbless and blinded, and he freaks out badly; but is reassured to realize that even in that extremis there would have been help and care waiting for him.
Chapter 9: Matters Arising
Horace Slughorn is appointed as temporary Potions master, and we learn that the real Mad-Eye Moody is teaching DADA. Snape has very good reason to be wary of him.
The six carers mark Snape's thirty-eighth birthday with a variety of odd gifts. He is amazed and touched, and actually feels quite hopeful; but before long he is back to having raging nightmares again. Neville settles him after one such bad dream by talking about his theories about magical plants, and Snape is surprized to realize that the boy has an actual brain.
Now that he is stronger, Snape is frustrated by his own inaction, and becomes depressed about his injuries. Adrian assures him that it is still possible to lead a full life, and Poppy uses massage to ease his tension.
Snape is now so much fitter and more relaxed that he wakes up next to Hermione with an early-morning erection - to his profound embarrassment. This leads on to a cautious and oblique bit of mutual flirting.
Chapter 10: Secret Admirers
Snape is on the whole improving, but still suffers from random flashbacks. Filius has started fitting him for a prototype prosthetic arm, although he finds the experience rather disturbing. He ends up having a violent flashback about being made to drink contaminated water; Neville and Luna support him through it, and share a moment of understanding.
Snape is unsure of how to behave around Hermione, now, and concentrates on helping her with her studies instead of discussing any more personal matters. However, when he is disturbed by the realization that he has now been free for as long as he was a prisoner, he allows Hermione to comfort him. She, meantime, feels that she is becoming as soppily romantic and mushy as Lavender - although she is determined to hide her feelings from Snape himself.
Neville precipitates matters by telling Snape that Hermione fancies him. Hermione had admitted that she sometimes found sharing a bed with him a turn-on, but Snape is sure Neville is wrong and that she was just turned on by the proximity of an adult male, not by him personally. But he is intrigued enough by Neville's suggestion to ask her about it. Hermione admits that she does find him personally attractive, and they have a cautious, teasing conversation about what anyone might find attractive in him; about the pleasure of finding someone one can really talk to without having to keep stopping to explain the long words; and about how clever Neville is, on the quiet.
Chapter 11: As Others See Us
Snape uses emotional blackmail to get Horace Slughorn to give Albus the Horcrux memory, by stressing the fact that he is, and will continue to be, in danger of being re-captured and tortured again until such time as Voldemort is finally defeated. In return, Snape helps Slughorn by resuming some of his pastoral duties as Head of House. As he becomes healthier so he becomes more frustrated and restless, and he is beginning to be obsessed with the knowledge that his captors were able to reduce him to a crawling, mindless state.
We learn that Harry has been studying Potions with a private tutor in Hogsmeade, since Snape wouldn't let him join his class with less than an 'O' at OWL level, but Slughorn has now incorporated Harry into his class and is finding him to be an excellent student.
Snape realizes that he is coming to see his student carers as actual friends. He learns how abusive Neville's home-life was as a small child (uncles trying to squeeze more magic out of him by threatening to kill him etc.), and offers to help Neville submit his botanical theories for publication.
Flitwick is working on the prosthetic limbs for Snape, but the project is not going very well, mainly because Snape's muscles are so wasted.
Snape and Hermione talk about the possibility of a relationship, and the age-gap between them. To convince Snape of her sincerity, and to show him a view of himself which is much better and more forgiving than his own, Hermione persuades Snape to use Legilimency on her and then look at himself through her eyes. He is horribly disturbed by seeing himself from the outside as he was when he was found, mutilated and dying, but also puzzled and touched by her admiration for him.
Chapter 12: Time Goes By
Snape continues to practise with the prostheses, but acquiring any sort of control or steadiness is a slow and frustrating job and he and Adrian get rather scratchy with each other, especially as Adrian is a bit frazzled over plans for his forthcoming wedding to Hermione's half-sister.
Now that he has seen his injuries from the outside, through Hermione's eyes, Snape feels better able to tackle some of his own memories and he and Albus make a second and more successful attempt to extract and analyse his memories of being smuggled into the castle by boat. Seeing himself injured and mishandled is deeply distressing but they learn that he was brought in by the recent school-leaver Cormac McLaggen (who Snape thinks is just the type to become a Death Eater) and by two female associates of McLaggen's, although Snape's memory is still too confused and blurred to be able to identify them.
Snape is very stressed and guilty about the fact that he broke under torture and told Voldemort how much Albus knew about the prophecy and the Horcruxes (which at that time, in this time-line, did not include Slughorn's memory of how many Horcruxes there were). But Albus tells him not to concern himself with the war, which he and Harry have well in hand, but to rest and be a little frivolous for once. Snape does attempt to comply, by fooling around with the strange gadget for measuring Useless Statistics which Albus gave him for his birthday.
As he promised, Snape has been thinking about Hermione's offer to him, and he finally suggests that they should attempt at least the beginnings of a physical relationship, provided it is understood that it is only a test at this stage. They kiss, cautiously on his part and also rather clumsily, due to his injuries; but despite these initial difficulties they both consider it a resounding success.
Chapter 13: Language and Literature
Neville's article on magical botany, which Snape helped him to submit, is accepted by a learned journal. Meanwhile, off-stage, Albus and Harry are going Horcrux hunting. Snape is concerned about the danger inherent in denaturing a Horcrux, but Albus has got Slughorn to brew Felix felicis.
Snape is still very unsteady on his (prosthetic) feet, but has progressed to being given exercises by Madam Hooch. He is still badly shaken by having seen one of his own torture-memories in the Pensieve, which has stirred up other very unpleasant recollections - but also some rather pleasant ones, to do with being nursed when he was first brought back to Hogwarts. Adrian, meanwhile, is preparing for his imminent wedding, and very stressed. Snape makes him a promise that when he is well he will help him with healing patients, if his intervention would make the difference between life and death, and assuming it's something he can heal.
Snape keeps his half-promise, made before Christmas, to teach Hermione to swear - although he rather wishes he hadn't. Hagrid meanwhile keeps his promise to talk to the giant squid - who confirms that the two girls who assisted McLaggen in boating Snape into the castle were current students.
Snape and Hermione have progressed to more enthusiastic, sexually-charged kissing. After she helps him through a nightmare, they talk about his attempts to comfort his Slytherins, about his family and origins, and then about the attitude of wizards to the Muggle world. They agree to wear each other's ribbon favours in public, if and when they go public about their relationship, and discuss showing each other off to envious rivals, and why Hermione doesn't seem to have many boys after her.
Hermione shows Snape the sonnet she wrote about him in the autumn. This leads to a rather grim conversation about getting emotionally stressful events into words, and Snape's experience of seeing his own flesh and bone eaten by Fenrir Greyback.
Snape talks again about his relationship with his Slytherins, and why he needs to be biased in their favour to counteract all the bias against them. This starts them both thinking about doing something about the position of abused or neglected wizarding children - a possible joint project for After the War.
Chapter 14: Enter the Dragon
Snape is waiting rather fretfully for Hermione to return from Adrian and Imogen's wedding, when he hears raised voices in the corridor outside. For a moment he thinks it is Lucius in the doorway, and nearly shoots him, but it is Draco, who has been rescued form Death Eater guards after being spotted by the Order at the same hotel Hermione was staying at.
Draco knew that Snape had been captured and tortured, but Lucius promised him that he would make sure it was all over quite quickly. If he had known that Lucius had lied to him, and that Snape was being kept alive and in agony, he would have tried to save him; but he was kept isolated, ostensibly for his own protection, and had not even known that Snape had been returned alive to Hogwarts. In fact, Lucius didn't want him to find out what had happened to Snape until after he had taken the Dark Mark - which in this time-line he has not yet done, since Lucius is not in Azkaban - and it was too late to back out. When Hermione told Draco even the bare gist of what had been done to Snape he was sick and furious and declared his allegiance to Dumbledore - who used Legilimency to confirm his sincerity.
Overcome with emotion, Draco goes to give Snape a hug, rather too suddenly and without warning, and Snape freaks out badly. This leads to Draco discovering that Snape was sexually assaulted - about which he is bitterly angry.
Draco tells Snape that Hermione only played a minor role in his rescue and that she is fine, so Snape is startled and horrified when he sees that in fact she has been injured and is limping badly. He is angry and concerned about her taking such a risk, and insists that when he has got the hang of the prostheses, and is properly on his feet again, he will coach her in Defence. They discuss Dementors, and the way in which even good memories can be undermined. This leads on to a lengthy discussion about Dumbledore's Army, and about Snape's and Harry's mutual hostility.
Chapter 15: Crawl Before You Can Walk
Hermione emotionally blackmails Harry into agreeing in principle to apologise to Snape for looking into his Pensieve. Draco rather awkwardly thanks both Harry and Hermione for saving his godfather.
Draco's return has stirred up Snape's bad memories, and he has a major freak-out at Neville. They discuss father-figures, and the satisfaction which Neville derives from being able to help Snape. Neville offers to make Snape a herbal remedy to soothe his raw nerves.
Snape is, in general, improving, and no longer needs to be held all the time. He is concerned because they still do not know the identity of the two girl students who helped to bring him into the castle and dump him in the storeroom. It is suspected that the one who spoke was a Ravenclaw, but Filius Flitwick is away at present.
Draco is to take over most of Poppy Pomfrey's shifts with Snape, about which she is rather sad. She tries to persuade Snape to use mental techniques to control his nightmares, but he half thinks he deserves them. He is however getting better with the prostheses and is actually walking, albeit very slowly and stiffly.
He is also giving Hermione private Defence Against the Dark Arts tuition. He discovers in conversation with Hermione that Harry has got hold of the Half-Blood Prince's book, and is initially afraid of what Hermione will think of the boy in the book. They discuss text-books in general, and intellectual risk-taking, and make plans for Snape's first venture outside.
Snape is very aware of the way that his desire for Hermione is hampered by ingrained terror of physical intimacy, and knows that if their relationship is to progress he needs to overcome this. They experiment with lying bare-chested, skin to skin, and just cuddling and talking. He is still puzzled by the extent of her affection, so she opens her mind to him and encourages him to used Legilimency to see her regard for him.
They discuss the moral complexities of Snape's past and his feeling that he deserves puinishment. He is ashamed of having been broken down into such an abject condition, but Hermione chivvies him out of his self-disgust and makes him feel that his situation is manageable. They discuss mutual support, and he promises her that he won't kill himself, and tells her that despite everything which has happened to him he is less bitter now than he was before, because at least now some good things have happened to him, as well as the bad.
Chapter 16: Voice Recognition
Luna insists on seeing the copy of Snape's Pensieved memory of being brought into the castle by boat, in order to identify the voice of the girl who spoke - who is assumed to be a Ravenclaw, since the Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor house masters do not recognize her voice, and Filius Flitwick is away on Order business. After viewing the memory, Luna believes the voice to be Padma Patil's. Albus decides to leave Padma free for the moment in order that she may be watched to see whom she contacts: he tells Snape not to tell Hermione or Neville that Padma is probably one of the culprits, as he does not think they would be able to act convincingly normally around Padma's Gryffindor twin.
Neville tells Adrian that Snape has bouts of feeling that his skin is dirty, which Adrian believes may be a symptom of neurological damage rather than neurosis. Adrian reassures Snape that his friends won't abandon him once he is no longer sick enough to be dependant on them, and that he himself has some very fine pubs he wishes to introduce Snape to once he can walk properly. Snape is making some progress in that regard: he manages to lurch three unsteady lengths of the room, and to wear the prosthetic arm for three hours before it starts getting on his nerves too much.
Harry apologizes over the Pensieve incident in fifth year, and Snape drops the bombshell about the identity of the Half-Blood Prince. He and Harry reach some sort of awkward accommodation where they can at least be reasonably civil to each other, and Harry plays cards with Snape and Hermione - though he still wouldn't want to be left alone with Snape.
Draco has heard rumours that it was McLaggen and two current students who conveyed Snape in, and swears horrible vengeance on them. Horace Slughorn is dumping a lot of Potions work on Snape, but his motives are not simply self-interested; he also feels that it does Snape good to feel needed, and to have something he can complain about without feeling unmanly for minding it.
Meantime, Snape is beginning really to appreciate the pleasures of the present, even if he is still disturbed by the pains of the past. He is becoming accustomed to lying skin to skin with Hermione, and he is beginning to recall what happened when he was first found and treated and to find comfort in remembering everyone's kindness to him, especially Hermione's. He is also trying, with moderate success, to teach her Occlumency.
Chapter 17: The Name of the Rose
The school schedules an extra Hogsmeade visit to get most of the students out of the way, and while the coast is clear Snape is carried out to one of the greenhouses, accompanied by Neville, Hermione and Draco and a party of Slytherin guards. Snape and Hermione have exchanged coloured ribbons, like Mediaeval favours. Draco, Neville and Hermione have all been given permission to go out in the grounds not wearing school robes, to make the occasion seem pleasingly informal; rather than wearing Muggle clothes, but wishing to look as unlike his father as possible, Draco has borrowed Ron's dreadful old dress robes. On him, they look quite good.
En route to the greenhouse, Pansy Parkinson notices that Hermione is holding Snape's hand to reassure him. The Slytherins take up stations outside, and Snape and his two young friends sit on old-fashioned garden furniture in the greenhouse, drinking tea and later eating a sort of informal high tea provided by the house elves. The setting is so pleasant that Snape finds himself feeling quite relaxed and hopeful, and realizes for the first time that he really does expect to get better. They discuss the ethics of animate to inanimate Transfiguration, and Animagi, and the house-elves' contract, and pure-blood attitudes, and catching Pettigrew to find out how his silver hand was made, and holidays, and nightmares, and keeping his relationship with Hermione out of the papers. A very pleasant and relaxing time is had by all, and Snape even sings a snatch of verse about a rose, although his voice is permanently damaged.
Afterwards, Pansy corners Hermione and gets her to admit that she and Snape are interested in each other. The two girls reach an uneasy truce; they don't like each other, but they both want what's best for Snape. Pansy warns Hermione that there is a lot of unrest in Slytherin between the pro-Snape and pro-Voldemort factions; neither of them really wants to worry Snape, but they conclude that he ought to be told.
Chapter 18: Treacherous Footing
Fearing that he will find out from Pansy anyway, Snape tells Draco about the nature of his relationship with Hermione. Draco is a lot more blasé about it than he had expected. They discuss Slytherin politics, and the complex reassorting of loyalties and alliances which is going on within Slytherin now they know that loyalty to Snape and loyalty to the Dark Lord are incompatible.
Snape speaks to some of his Slytherin guards about the situation, testing the waters preparatory to holding a full house meeting. During this conversation, Snape recognizes Daphne Greengrass's laugh and realizes that she was one of the junior Death Eater wannabees who brought him into Hogwarts when he was maimed. Daphne realizes that he has made the connection and she tries to kill him, but Neville rugby-tackles her and the guards then overpower her.
In his fury and excitement Snape manages to leave his rooms, with the prosthetics and assistance from some of the loyal guard, to haul Daphne up to the Headmaster's office - although he collapses halfway and has to be transported the rest of the way by Dumbledore. An emergency committee including Tonks and Moody interrogate Daphne and the Patil twins, and Tonks tricks Daphne and Padma into admitting their involvement with McLaggen, and therefore their guilt. Padma admits that she was drawn to Voldemort because she was tired of being a good girl just like her twin, and that she hadn't worried about how much Snape was suffering because he didn't look human any more.
Snape is traumatized by this and has a crisis of nerve, but he is chivvied out of it fairly fast, assisted by Minerva and the Baron. Neville later admits, at an impromptu case conference, that when Snape becomes overwrought he sometimes distracts him from it by allowing Trevor the toad to "escape" into the bed.
Later Snape has a dream which is actually full of hope and promise. In the wake of this he agrees to teach Harry how to make his own wine, and the same recklessness which had driven him out of his rooms and up the stairs to the Headmaster's office leads him to progress to some fairly serious sexual experimentation with Hermione.
Chapter 19: A Thousand Dreams Which Would Awake Me
In response to the discovery that Daphne Greengrass, one of Snape's guards, was really an enemy, the Slytherins enact a ritual whereby those who are well-intentioned towards Snape swear an oath (ranging from life-long fealty to benign neutrality, according to individual taste) and receive a magical tattoo of a hound, which will vanish if they break their word. Snape attends the full council of Slytherin house - on foot - and confronts the faction who are still loyal to Voldemort.
Later he suffers a violent nightmare from which Hermione is unable to rouse him, and he has to be sedated by Poppy. When he wakes Hermione is distressed by her inability to help him, and he tells her how much she has done and continues to do for him.
He admits to her that he was seduced and then abused by Lucius at school, when he was twelve. They discuss how it would have been had he and Hermione actually been at school together, and this leads them to consider the possibility of Hermione taking Severus to meet her parents.
Chapter 20: In Loco Parentis
Hermione and Severus experiment with various forms of foreplay in which he generally lets her take the lead, fearing to feel as if he is taking advantage of her. He is distressed by the oath of fealty which so many of his Slytherins have taken for him, and by the thought of Daphne Greengrass, one of his own house-students for whom he is responsible, ending up in Azkaban for life.
Adrian is very impressed that Severus is walking so well, and organises a celebratory picnic lunch. They end up under the beech tree by the lake, where the Marauders had attacke Severus and he had quarrelled with Lily. He has a rant about having been bullied ragged, and the others reassure him that now he has a circle of reliable friends.
With Hermione and Draco for company, Severus attends an Easter midnight service in the castle chapel, and has a spiritual experience which reassures him that he has not been cut off from grace. He makes progress with teaching Harry to brew beer and wine.
Minerva McGonagall corners Hermione and asks her what is going on between her and Severus. Hermione admits to the early stages of a sexual relationship and Minerva - who was rather a racy young woman in her day - is far more amused than annoyed, but she seeks reassurance that neither of them is inadvertently taking advantage of the other, and that Hermione won't hurt Severus by losing interest in him. Hermione tells Severus about this and he is touched by Minerva's motherly concern. They agree that their relationship now has the equivalent of tenure, although Severus has to warn Hermione not to keep touching him too reatlessly without warning, as it makes him feel crowded.
Chapter 21: Games of Skill and Chance
Over the Easter break, Severus begins to sit outside on a regular basis, to read or work, and he is back to brewing for the hospital wing. He realizes that dealing with his trauma is no longer the main issue in his life. One of the issues which is now preoccupying him is whether, when and how to tell Albus about his relationship with Hermione.
Harry and Severus play cards, and Harry asks if they can resume Occlumency lessons. Poppy asks if she and Adrian may write a paper about Severus's medical treatment, and he says that if he agrees, he will co-write it.
Severus gives Hermione a sonnet which he has written about her, and they discuss the nature of their relationship and of romance, and engage in some intense off-camera foreplay. He tells her that she mustn't expect always to be able to help him, and mustn't feel bad about it, because what she does for him is more than enough.
They discuss what it would have meant for their relationship if he had never been taken and tortured, and Hermione had revealed her feelings for him while he was still teaching her; and conversely what would have happened if he had been returned to Hogwarts much more maimed than he was. They also discuss how they will continue their relationship after Hermione leaves school, and their long-term career plans, and the art of teaching, and the correct male response to new female hairdos. They make a date for Hermione to lose her virginity at Beltane, and Severus reassures her about her attractiveness.
Chapter 22: Guilt-Edged Bonds
Severus decides to tell Albus about his relationship with Hermione. Albus is less than thrilled, and attempts to be manipulative, but is too concerned about Severus's still quite fragile state to be really angry, especially as the relationship had been OK'd by Minerva. He does attempt to be angry with Minerva about it, but it doesn't work.
Severus has equally difficult conversations with Parvati about her sister's behaviour, and with Moody about his security arrangements. Moody and Lupin are thinking of duplicating the Marauder's Map to use as a surveillance device, now that Severus is often out of his quarters and walking around the school and grounds. Although Severus is walking much better, he misses his footing at the head of some stairs and has a bad fall, which triggers a sudden fit of desperate rage and grief over the loss of his left hand and feet. Adrian soothes him, and he in turn soothes Hermione, who is panicking about her NEWTs.
Occlumency lessons with Harry are resumed. Harry is thinking of using his connection with Voldemort to feed him false information.
Hermione and Severus are both filled with nervous but pleasurable anticipation of their arrangements for Beltane, although Severus still half thinks Hermione is making a mistake. To reassure him, Hermione gives him a Valentine which she had originally written for him in February. They talk about what it would have been like if they had been teenagers at the same time. This leads on to him admitting that it was he who repeated the prophecy to Voldemort and caused the Potters' deaths. Hermione is shocked, yet accepting.
They talk about Horcruxes, and possible ways of binding the piece of soul which is still in Voldemort. Mention of Voldemort's age leads them into a discussion about growing old together, and how desirable they find each other, which leaves Severus feeling more accepting of his own body - however damaged.
Chapter 23: M'aidez
On Beltane night, Hermione and Severus make love fully for the first time. Hermione is a virgin and bleeds a little, and initially the smell of blood in a sexual context causes Severus to have a spectacular flashback/freakout, but he breaks free of it when he sees that Hermione is upset. Their second attempt at lovemaking goes much better, and Hermione is extremely impressd - the more so because he is keen to try again as soon as possible. He is left feeling much more relaxed about sexual matters, including about the abuse which he suffered as a prisoner.
Chapter 24: Intromission
Single-scene chapter showing Severus and Hermione the morning after they make love fully for the first time, and how happy they both are, despite the burden of Severus's memories.