Sometimes the best things come in small packages by ancientgir
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I\'d like to thank everyone who is still keeping up with this. I appreciate your wonderful reviews.

All canon characters belong to JKR.


Chapter 6 “ A recovery and a few explanations

At Grimmauld Place, Ginny returned from the attic where she had a small potions lab, with several bottles in hand. As she walked into the room where Lucius had carried little Hermione, Ginny was taken aback by the show of tenderness she was witnessing. Severus was running his hands over Hermione’s forehead, then cheeks, then down her arm lightly. He was trying to soothe her in her unconscious state.

She walked to the other side of the bed and set the bottles on the nightstand. Severus immediately began to eye what she had set down.

“I’ve been reading about several new treatments for the Cruciatus Curse developed by some healers in Norway. One involves a bath using lavender and Black Cohosh,” he said as he turned back to Hermione.

Ginny smiled.

“In my Medi-witch training, we’ve been discussing that bath cure in particular. I’ve brewed some of it according to the recipe and have been keeping it on stock. I thought it might come in handy, just in case.”

Severus then turned to her. “A wise decision, Miss Weasley.”

Ginny leaned towards Hermione and spoke softly.

“Hermione,” she said, then picked up the bottle of strengthening potion and uncorked it. “Hermione, wake up.” Ginny looked to Severus. “Can you lift her a bit for me? We need to get her to swallow this.”

Severus nodded and positioned himself so that he was now cradling Hermione, much as he had been back at Voldemort’s hideout. As he did so, Hermione began to stir. Her eyes opened hesitantly.

“Se…Severus?” she called out to him weakly.

“Yes, I’m here. Hermione, listen to me. We’re at Order headquarters. Your friend Ginny is here. She has strengthening potion you need to take.” Ginny placed the bottle on Hermione’s lips and tilted it. “That’s it, drink it down.”

As Hermione drank the potion, her ashen skin began to brighten. Her cheeks were rosy and her skin back to its pinkish hue. She drank the entire potion and began to groan.

“I hurt everywhere. My skin hurts. It’s like a million hot needles are poking at me.”

Severus brushed her hair back with his small hands.

“It’s the residual effect of the Cruciatus Curse you were hit with,” he said.

Hermione turned and looked over at Ginny.

“I need to get you into a bath now,” Ginny said. “I have something that will help you with that feeling.” Ginny made motion to carry Hermione herself, but Severus pulled her toward him instead.

“I can take her. You get the bath ready.” he commanded.

Ginny held back the urge to giggle. Even at this size he was imposing. She knew he would most probably struggle a bit. He was a strong man, she had seen that herself in the past. But his small six-year-old body didn’t have the same strength. Still, he wanted to help Hermione, and it was obvious he wanted to be close to her.

“All right, Professor. You bring her along as soon as possible then.”

She left the room, and Severus looked down at Hermione.

“That wasn’t very nice of you, you know,” he said sternly.

Hermione furrowed her brow, wondering what he was talking about.

“What did I do?” she asked.

“You scared me,” he said softly. “I…I thought you were going to die.”

She chuckled. “I don’t think I was hit hard. I don’t recall it lasting long at least. And I’ve never heard of anyone dying from a Cruciatus Curse.”

Severus looked at her soberly.

“You’ve never seen children hit with that curse, Hermione. Their bodies aren’t as strong or large as adult bodies. You can’t begin to fathom the number of children I’ve seen killed by it.”

She looked in his eyes and saw the worry she felt in his words.

“Come on,” he said, quickly trying to change the subject. “I’ve got to get you to the bathroom before Miss Weasley turns into Poppy and starts to yell at me.”

He picked her up as gently as he could.

“I think you should cut down on the sweets. You weigh as much as a Hippogriff,” he said.

Hermione scowled at him.

“I’ll have you know that there is nothing wrong with my weight. Those puny arms of yours just aren’t strong enough, that’s all.”

“Yes, well, these puny arms can just as easily drop you, you know.”

They sniped all the way to the bathroom where Ginny had already filled the tub and emptied a bottle containing the lilac-colored lavender and Black Cohosh potion into the water. She looked at Severus carrying Hermione. He was being such a little gentleman, even though he looked like he was about to burst from carrying her. He held her so close to him; it was as if she was his precious prize.

“I’ll take her now.” Ginny stood and walked to them. For a moment Ginny thought she saw Severus hesitate, but then he approached her.

“I’ll go down and see if I can help Lucius with the tea,” said Severus, as Ginny took Hermione from him and helped her sit on the edge of the tub.

“He mentioned something about going back to cover his tracks,” said Ginny.

Just then Hermione spoke up.

“Severus, why did Lucius help me? And how was he able to find Order headquarters?” asked Hermione. As she’d been laying in Severus’ arms back at Voldemort’s lair, she was visibly shocked when she saw the face of Lucius Malfoy looming over her.

“He’s changed quite a bit since the death of Draco and Narcissa,” Severus said sadly. The two young women had heard about the death of Lucius’ son and wife several years ago.

Hermione then realized who Lucius really was.

“He’s Snowbird, isn’t he?” asked Hermione.

It was Ginny’s turn to look shocked now.

He’s Snowbird?” she asked in wonder.

Severus looked at her and cocked his head.

“That’s his name among the Order members. How is it that you have heard it?” Severus hoped that Lucius’ alias wasn’t something freely talked about. He worried for his friend, since he could no longer watch his back from inside the ranks of the Death Eaters, as they had done for each other for several years.

“Well,” Ginny had a guilty look on her face. “I was here the last time there was an Order meeting. I snuck downstairs and hid behind the curtains when Moody and Shacklebolt were talking to my father about a raid in Kensington. They mentioned Snowbird and how good it was that we still had another spy in Voldemort’s camp. An ex-Death Eater like you used to be, Professor.”

“Miss Weasley,” Severus said as he approached both women. “Ginny, Hermione, it is imperative that no one outside the Order know about Lucius. If the Dark Lord had even in inkling of suspicion, Lucius would be killed with extreme prejudice. He’s my friend first and foremost, but he is also our only hope in getting any information from the other side.”

“You can trust us, Severus,” said Hermione as Ginny nodded.

“I won’t say a word to anyone, not even my brothers,” Ginny promised.

Having received their promise of silence, Severus was satisfied that they would keep Lucius’ secret. He then turned and walked out of the bathroom, shutting the door behind him.

Ginny undressed Hermione and placed her in the tub.

“How do you feel?” asked Ginny.

“The prickly feeling has stopped. My skin is not on fire anymore.” Hermione leaned back against the tub and relaxed.

“Hermione, what in the world happened?” Knowing that her friend was feeling better and now out of danger, Ginny’s curiosity got the better of her.

~*~*~

Lucius had returned to Voldemort’s lair. He walked to the cupboard where Severus had placed the stunned Death Eater. He dragged the man out and placed him in the middle of the hallway, then kicked him to wake him.

“Get up you fool, you let them get away!” he yelled. The dazed Death Eater shook his head and struggled to get to his feet.

“What happened?” He asked.

“You idiot. The girl stunned you and you fell on me. The Dark Lord will not be pleased.” Lucius grabbed the man by the back of his robes and dragged him back to the throne room. There he explained to Voldemort that they had been in pursuit of the two children when the dark-haired Death Eater was hit by a stunning hex and blocked the way for Lucius as he fell. Needless to say, Voldemort was not happy. He sent Lucius on his way and took his anger out on the dark-haired Death Eater, who was totally unaware that his brethren had thrown him under the proverbial bus.

Having been sent away by Voldemort, Lucius want back to Grimmauld Place to see how Severus and Hermione were faring. He also found himself looking forward to seeing Ginny Weasley once more. Arthur had often spoken about his daughter to him on many occasions. The patriarch was very proud of her and her choice of careers. The elder Weasley also expressed disappointment in the fact that his daughter had such terrible luck with wizards in the love department. At times Lucius felt as though he was the lamb being led to the slaughter, as Arthur seemed to be talking about his daughter a bit too much these days. Lucius always shook it off, though. Arthur and the rest of the Order had accepted him, but he doubted the elder Weasley would want an ex-Death Eater to marry his only daughter; Lucius was only about four years younger than Arthur and Molly.

As a matter of fact, now that he thought about it, he hadn’t even seen Ginny Weasley since he slipped Tom Riddle’s diary into her bucket at Flourish & Blotts in her first year at Hogwarts. And if he had seen her after that, he didn’t even remember. During the Department of Mysteries fiasco in Ginny’s fourth year, Ginny had been knocked out by a Stunning Spell before the Death Chamber battle even started, a fact he’d learned at his trial, when he and the other captured Death Eaters had been sent to Azkaban. Regardless, he doubted his stunt at the bookstore those many years ago would endear him to the young woman, seeing as she almost died as a result of having the diary.

Upon his return, he found his old “ rather, his young “ well, actually small friend, Severus, in the kitchen. Lucius sat at the head of the table, staring into his teacup. He looked over at the stove and noticed a chair had been dragged so that the small wizard could reach the knobs and kettle without setting himself on fire.

“Severus? Is everything all right?” Lucius wondered if Hermione hadn’t taken a turn for the worst.

Severus looked up at him with confusion in his eyes.

“I’m slipping, Lucius. Whatever Weasley did to that potion, it was powerful enough to make its effects advance on us, quicker than I thought.”

“Step back a bit, friend. Which Weasley and what potion are you talking about?” Lucius poured himself a cup of tea and sat next to Severus.

“Albus sent me to the university yesterday to cover some potions classes. The students are nearing their final exams and the potions they are making are advanced, so they needed the guidance of a Potions Master. It was the first class and I was walking around the classroom as they were making the Adulescens Denuo potion. Something happened to Ron Weasley’s potion. I yelled for everyone to get out, but Her…Miss Granger came back for her wand. It was too late then. The cauldron exploded all over us.”

“I know that potion. How much time do you think you have before…” Lucius didn’t even want to say what he was thinking. He knew that if the counter-potion wasn’t taken the victim would revert to a child, completely forgetting their adult self.

Severus sighed heavily. “I don’t know. We were hit yesterday morning, I think. If today is still Friday, then this makes the first actual full day we have been like this. The counter-potion was started yesterday, so I give it another three days for it to be finished. I would say possibly Sunday evening. I thought we had time, but I feel myself slipping more and more. I gather Hermione feels it too.”

“Is there anything I can do to help?” asked Lucius.

“Not really. If you see me or Hermione revert to childlike behavior, perhaps reminding us of who we are will help bring us back to our adult thinking.” He took a sip of his tea, then suddenly realized Albus might be looking for him.

“I need to let Albus know I’m here.” Severus made a motion to get up, but Lucius stopped him.

“I have already sent word to him. I let him know you and Hermione were here,” said Lucius. As if on cue, they heard a noise in the living room and knew it was the Floo. Both Lucius and Severus walked into the living room and met the old wizard.

“Severus, what were you thinking? You and Hermione could have been killed!” Albus walked to Severus, went down on one knee in front of him, and placed his hand on Severus’ small shoulder and pulled him towards him for a suffocating hug. For some reason he felt as though he truly could have lost the Potions master this time around. And the fact that he looked like a child made it all the more difficult to keep his emotions from getting the better of him. “My boy, we were all so worried. I know you wanted to help, but you should have stayed behind.”

Severus had his head bowed. He knew he should not have ventured out to Hogsmeade, especially with Hermione.

“I know, you’re right, Albus. We just wanted to help.”

Albus looked to Lucius.

“Thank you, Lucius, for getting them out of there.”

“I’m glad I was still there.” Lucius looked down at Severus. He reminded him of his own son, when Draco had done something wrong. It tugged at his heart, the memory of Draco at that age.

“Do you think you will be called back soon, Lucius?” asked Albus.

“It’s difficult to say. He plans to attack Hogwarts, but still hasn’t decided when. I gather it will be soon, though. He was very angry about Hogsmeade.”

The three of them sat down and were silent for a while. Albus then looked at Severus and Lucius. The pair had been friends for many years and they cared greatly for each other. Albus knew that after what happened earlier that evening, it would be difficult for him to keep an eye on Severus and Hermione. The “children” had managed to give him the slip easily, not to mention the havoc they caused around the castle. He’d already gotten an earful from Mr. Filch about someone tying cans to Mrs. Norris’ tail.

“Severus, perhaps it might be better for you and Hermione to stay here for a few days. You don’t have to worry about anyone recognizing you here. I’ve also instructed Harry and Ron to discreetly Obliviate their classmates of the incident. I’ve sent word to the university that you are not available to substitute for them. They had only told Ginny so far. I think I should inform Arthur and Molly though, just in case they show up here.”

Severus looked at the old man. “A few days away might be nice. The counter-potion won’t be ready until Sunday. I have it set to keep itself warm once it’s finished. You can watch it for me.”

“It’s settled then. I’m sure Lucius wouldn’t mind looking out for you for the next few days,” said Albus as he clapped his hands together and stood.

Severus stood, and then looked towards Lucius.

“Hang on a tick. Albus, I do not need some stupid babysitter looking after me.” Severus looked to Lucius. “Not that you’re stupid, Lucius. You know what I mean.”

“You had better watch yourself, Severus. I’m not above putting you over my knee and sending you to bed without dessert, young man.” Lucius smirked. He hadn’t planned on staying, but it might be fun after all. Of course, it would be even nicer if Ginny Weasley decided to stay as well.

“I know it’s an inconvenience for you both, but I need to begin preparations to the castle,” Albus said. “If Voldemort plans on attacking, I need to make sure the wards are strong enough, and that there are no weak spots around the grounds as well.” Just before he walked back into the Floo, Albus turned to Severus.

“Oh, and I have asked Harry and Ron to stop by and give Hermione any homework she may have missed. I know how studious she is.” With that Albus left.

Severus sat back down and crossed his arms in disgust.

“As if being six isn’t bad enough, now I have to look forward to a visit with Tweedle-Dumb and Tweedle-Dumber.”

~*~*~*~*~

I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Thanks for reading.