Home, Despite It All

Severus closed his eyes, his lips pulled so far down that Ron was convinced he must have extra muscles than the average wizard in his face.

"This is so undignified," Snape growled as Draco delicately ran a soft cloth over the older man's body. Draco ignored the comment and the small splashes of water slowly drenching his shirt as he bathed Severus' palsied form.

"Why won't you simply cast a cleaning spell as I requested?" Severus asked through tight lips, glaring at his caregiver.

"Because proper baths feel better," Draco said gently. Severus' arm flailed in the water, sending a small shower up into Draco's face. Continuing his ablutions, Draco wiped his sopping fringe against his shoulder.

Ron took a hand towel off a nearby rack and handed it to Draco, who flipped it across his shoulder with a murmured thanks.

"Weasley, I wish you had the decency to leave," Severus said, his voice heavy with distaste. "Or haven't you yet had your fill of seeing me in this degrading state?"

"He stays," Draco said firmly, avoiding Severus' kicking foot as a tremor shuddered through him. "You're a part of our family now. Ron finds assisting in your care the same privilege as I do."

Severus released a rumbling, malcontented sound. "Forgive me for finding that thought to be utterly ludicrous."

Draco glanced over at Ron, an apologetic expression on his face.

"Draco's right," Ron said, crossing his legs. "I know you don't believe me, and quite honestly, you don't have to. You're not bad company, especially when you're not in a mood like this."

"In case you hadn't noticed, during the unfortunate events of the War the ability to do my life's calling was ripped from me. My apologies for not being cheerful," Severus said venomously. As Draco soaped the cloth and tenderly washed the former potions master's feet, Severus' demeanour changed and he sagged against the tub, defeat etched on his face. "You should have left me to rot in St. Mungo's."

"Not a chance."

Draco rinsed Severus' long, surprisingly delicate toes, kneeling at the edge of the porcelain. "You've been better than a father to me since my childhood." He clasped Severus' pale feet in his hands, running his thumbs above the arch in a caress, gazing earnestly at Severus' dark eyes. "I know it's hard for you to hear, or believe, but I would never abandon you. You saved me, Severus. For that, and for so much else, I love you."

Severus let out a long sigh before casting a sharp glance at Ron.

"Don't worry- you're not gonna hear the l-word out of me," Ron said, raising his hands in surrender. "But if it weren't for you, I wouldn't have Draco now. C'mon. Let's get you dried off and dressed. Xave's been looking forward to going to the garden all afternoon."

"I can only imagine the spinning Percy is doing in his grave," Severus said sardonically, the bite back in his voice. "His son being raised by you, a Malfoy, and now an ex-Death Eater to make the travesty complete."

"Don't be rude," Draco chided, wrapping Severus' thin, tremulous body in a plush towel. "Even I can tell you're fond of Xavier, Your Bitterness."

The shadow of a smile flitted across Severus' lips as he was dried and Draco and Ron dressed him in loose black trousers and black shirt.

"Perhaps. Maybe with enough influence he'll have the good fortune to be in Slytherin."

"Merlin, don't even joke about things like that!" Ron exclaimed.

Draco snickered as he combed Severus' hair and pulled it back into a ponytail. "Our house robes would certainly go well with his colouring." He winked at Ron, who looked horrified. "You know I'm right."

"Still," Ron muttered, folding and hanging up the towel. "I think Mum'd have a fit."

Despite his near-constant shaking, Severus managed a levelled gaze at Ron. "Molly has survived the death of two of her sons, and now has a part-Veela, a werewolf, and a Malfoy as daughter and sons in law. After all of that, I suspect she would barely bat an eye were her grandson to be sorted into Slytherin."

Draco turned and looked amusedly at his former Head of House. "Severus, you sound almost compassionate!"

Severus scowled. "An anomoly, I'm sure."

Ron followed as Draco led Severus down the corridor to the living room, where Xavier was undoubtedly entertaing himself by playing his own version of chess with Ron's old set. If anyone had told Ron that he'd find contentment handfasted to Draco and a guardian to his nephew and now Snape, he'd have told them they were nutters.

Can't say my life's boring, though, he thought, shrugging his shoulders at the unpredictability of life with a grin.

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