|The Christmas Crane
Author: Emilee Crumby PM
While James is happy to have Lily as his personal nurse, Severus would prefer to remain unnoticed. Per usual. Sick! James Sick! SeverusRated: Fiction K - English - Hurt/Comfort - Lily Evans P. & Severus S. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 5,426 - Reviews: 19 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 04-26-12 - Published: 09-12-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7376548
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
For those who have been reading: I'm sorry for the delay in updates. For new readers: sorry for the crappy writing.
By the time Severus made it all the way back to the dungeons he was disgusted to find himself shivering. Or rather, he would have been disgusted if he weren't so miserable. Indeed when he first croaked out the password "inferi" to gain access to the common room, the gargoyle seemed to mock him by remaining lifeless.
Severus cleared his throat and tried again but failed a second time as his "n"s were sounding more like "d's" anyway. After a third failed attempt, he was saved by the only other remaining Slytherin students who were leaving as he tried to enter. They cast him similar glances, although one more marred with pity and the other disgust, leading him to believe he must look truly horrifying. Well, what else was new?
The boys' dormitory was accessed through a winding staircase down off the common room, and the thought of climbing down even further made Severus quake. Better to rest for awhile before the fire. With the decision made, he collapsed onto the long, sleek sofa nearest the hearth. The heat from the flames lapped at his skin, leaving it even colder in their wake. He curled up onto his side and warmed his icy hands against the dry heat of his face. When he closed his eyes he could feel the world moving around him and so he opened them once more.
Staring into the fire, though, reminded him of his red-haired friend and this thought made him feel even sicker. While he lay here, miserable and disgusting, she was likely sitting by Potter's beside. The idiot was probably even handsome while ill and would use her singular attention to spin a web of charm around her. Like a spider. Severus smirked as he pictured Potter's head on a spider's body. And then Lily would be disgusted by him. And Severus himself would be the hero by stepping on the nasty creature.
The feverish images rolled sickeningly through Severus' head as he drifted into an uneasy sleep, shivering and clutching his thin robes tightly around himself.
When he awoke later, it was in the panic of feeling that a spider with Potter's face had crawled into his throat and was trying to choke him. He coughed and spluttered hard enough to make his chest ache. His throat was on fire and still he could not catch a breath. He sat upright and the quilt fell to the floor.
Tears streamed down his cheeks as he coughed and he was only vaguely aware of a cool glass being pressed into his hand. He drank desperately from it and immediately the fire was put out. He drank some more and the tickling abated until he was able to draw a slow and shaky breath. He ran his sleeve across his eyes and felt the cool tears dry instantly on his hot skin.
With his vision now clear, he could see Lily sitting directly beside him, rubbing his back with one hand and pressing his palm with her other. Her eyes were creased with concern even while her lips puckered to make a soothing sound.
"There, there," she hummed sweetly. "You're all right. Just breathe slowly."
"Lily," he whispered. "How did you get in here?"
She smiled at his familiar, accusatory tone.
"How do you think?"
Severus didn't even need to think for a moment. His own Head of House was Lily Evans' biggest fan.
"Is nothing sacred?" he grumbled, leaning back again against the couch.
She ignored his comment and watched as he placed the water glass on an end table with a trembling hand.
Severus' skin was hot and painful as he felt her eyes upon him. He stared ahead at nothing and resisted the urge to smooth his sleep-disheveled hair. He surely appeared fouler than ever and trying to affect a change in that would only draw attention to his shame.
He was surprised at the feel of a cooling hand against his cheek. Greater than the physical soothing was the tenderness than nearly took his breath away. He turned to see Lily's eyes awash with kindness and she pressed a hand onto either side of his face, checking for a temperature.
"You don't need to stay here with me," he said, in lieu of saying how he truly felt.
"Of course not. You don't need me," she said calmly, dropping her hands to his neck and sending a chill down his spine. "I wouldn't dare accuse you of needing anyone."
His scowl was cut short by his need to cough and he reluctantly pulled away. Burying his face in a handkerchief and shielding Lily with a shoulder he coughed until his head ached.
"Would you like to see what I've brought for you?" she asked when he had composed himself again.
"Tell me it isn't Pepperup," he croaked. "That stuff is foul."
"I should hope I know you better than that," she retorted, scrunching her nose up at his comment.
She reached to the end table behind her and withdrew a dark and steaming mug, filled with a pale, unfamiliar drink.
"What is it?" he asked with disdain, peering into the mug without taking it from her.
"It's sort of like a lemon tea but with medicine in it."
"Muggle medicine." Severus was even more rueful.
Lily shrugged and pressed the cup into his hands.
"My mum sends me a box of this every term. She doesn't entirely trust magical remedies."
"My dad doesn't either," Severus lifted the drink to his face and attempted to sniff it through a stuffed nose. "So usually I just go without."
Lily's eyes creased with the pity she always felt when her friend discussed his home life. The pity she had learned to shield from him.
"It doesn't do any good unless you drink it," she said flatly.
With a wary expression, Severus tilted the glass and took the tiniest sip. His eyes widened in surprise as he swallowed.
"That's actually not bad," he said.
She smirked. "What'd you expect?"
"From Muggles… I didn't know what to expect." He had intended the words to be a joke but even through his hazy mind he could see how cruel they must have seemed.
Thankfully, Lily let the moment pass without comment. Instead she turned back towards her bookbag and withdrew a glass thermometer. She held it to the light and shook for a moment.
"So I've learned that I'm rubbish at diagnosis spells," she told him, shaking the thermometer once more. "The first time I did one on James, it told me he had a fever of 52 degrees."
"That's what I thought. Fortunately, one of the girls had a Muggle thermometer." She held it out to him and was meant with a glare of dismay.
"What do you have against this?"She asked.
"It's been marinating in Potter's spit," he answer over a curled lip.
"Oh for heaven's sake. This is a fresh one. I nicked it from the Hospital Wing when I was there earlier."
"Why were you in the Hospital Wing?" he asked, eyes quick with alarm.
"Just a little burn," she answered, holding out the thermometer until he finally took it. "Madam Pomfrey fixed it in no time. Really, it's amazing what professionals can do when consulted."
The last of this speech was laced with sarcasm and forced Severus to scowl at her from over his tightly sealed lips. He seemed about to rebut when Lily cut back in.
"Oh I know, I know. You've got your pride or you're not that ill or some other rubbish..."
Despite himself, Severus found he had to bit his cheeks to keep from smiling at her one-sided rant. It continued for the entire 3 minutes it took for the thermometer to register and then she only stopped talking in order to read it.
"40.1. Bloody hell, Severus, that's really high."
He shifted his weight awkwardly, not sure what to say.
"I guess I'm lucky you also nicked a Fever Draught from Pomfrey," he finally croaked.
She smiled and handed him the flask she had hidden in her robes.
"Does it make you happy to know you're officially suffering more than James?"
Severus nodded and then drank the medicine quickly before switching back to gulp at the lemon tea.
"You have no idea," he responded sardonically.
"You seem ecstatic."
The boy was silent a moment. With his immediate needs tended to he was able to consider that Lily Evans was beside him, in his own common room. Fatigued as she was with nursing Potter, she had come to him.
"Lily-" he began, fevered mind searching for the words.
"What is it, Sev?"
Her eyes were bright an inquisitive when she looked at him and the heat in his face came now from something other than the fever.
"I, erm." He took a deep breath and let it out in a flurry of coughs.
She smoothed his back but bit her tongue until he was able to speak and finish the thought.
"I feel just awful."
Her eyes crinkled with pity and she half-smiled.
"Admitting it is half the battle."
For him it was the larger part of the battle, she knew. But no more needed to be said on that. She smoothed her robe and gently guided his head to rest in her lap.
It was a position more vulnerable than Severus had ever allowed himself to be in, before. But somehow he liked it.
When she began to stroke his head, tucking strands of hair behind his ear, he nearly sighed aloud with the contentment he felt.
"I am glad to know I'm suffering more than Potter," he said sleepily. "But be sure to shoot me if I get as unforgivably whiny as him."
"Oh, I guess he wasn't that bad, after all," she said lightly, looking into the fire.
And Lily, even Lily with her acute insight and empathy didn't notice how Severus barely tensed beneath her touch.