An Ounce of Cure
by Raven Dancer
disclaimer: All characters belong to J.K. Rowling except for the Drs. Barnes, Daniel Murphy and Beryl. I receive no monetary compensation for these works.
This is for those few, brave souls who asked who Randall Clarion was...
Every Fall, as the days grew colder, students and staff were hit with various forms of influenza. In the closed environment of Hogwarts Castle, the variety of illnesses spread quickly among the inhabitants. Sometimes it was just a simple cold, sometimes sore throats and a cough. Every few years, though, a more virulent strain would attack the castle leaving many people very ill.
The hospital wing only had 10 beds in the ward and two isolation rooms. So, for the most part, all ill students and staff were tended to and sent back to their rooms. On those occasions the house elves zipped from patient to patient keeping them clean and as comfortable as possible. The extremely ill (or injured) would be kept in the hospital.
Madame Pomfrey had stocked a generous supply of potions to counteract various ailments the students and staff picked up and passed around to their colleagues. She had also spoken with the Potions Master (much to her distaste) to have a couple special potions she preferred brewed up. Of course, she had gone first to the Headmaster who in turn sent for Severus Snape.
Why Dumbledore insisted she ask Snape personally every year was beyond her. Wouldn't it be easier for him to mention it to Snape? She pushed her disgust aside as she went down the Headmaster's stairs. She had asked in as few words possible for her pepper-up potion and for a sore throat concoction Snape had developed many years before. (imagine the man could actually brew healing potions!) Plus a modified fever draught she'd created with Snape during a small but stubborn outbreak of strep throat four years back. At least that was over for another year.
You enjoyed that, didn't you Headmaster? Professor Snape asked with a sneer. The older man's eyes were lit up with suppressed laughter.
Severus, I have no idea what you are talking about, he chided merrily.
You have a mean streak in you, Albus Dumbledore, Snape
sighed. Most unbecoming, if you should ask me.
But I didn't, the laughing eyes continued sparkling as tea was poured out for two. With a slight wave of his hand one cup moved across the table to the younger man, complete with a berry scone.
Of course, I knew Pomfrey would be asking for her
favorite potions. I started them over a week ago, Snape said with a slight smile.
Seems someone else in this room delights in making
Poppy ask, the Headmaster smirked. Snape shrugged.
It's only right, he asserted.
They sipped and nibbled for a moment, letting the room settle around them. It was comfortable, sitting quietly together. All the cares of teaching and running a school forgotten. Snape breathed in the aroma of Earl Gray tea sweetened with a little honey. Dumbledore had mixed the beverage for him when he was young, a student. It brought back many memories, mostly good.
Dumbledore shifted a few parchments around his desk before selecting one to send over to his companion.
Received this little jewel by owl today, he commented, watching the Professor's face intently. As Snape quickly scanned the letter a scowl settled on his face. He tossed the parchment down angrily.
Let them find someone else, Albus, he growled. Dumbledore nodded sympathetically.
My thoughts, too, the older man concurred. He continued to watch Snape carefully, watching a progression of emotions. Anger dissipated quickly, replaced with annoyance then he picked up the parchment again.
Except, if this new influenza is as bad as they're
predicting, maybe I should look into a few potions. I
would hate for Hogwarts to be affected by it, he tempered.
Dumbledore covered a smile pretending to wipe crumbs from his lips.
Well, there is that. This strain seems to have mutated
somewhat from the past few years. Seems to be more
resistant to the old potions. The muggle doctors are
warning the public about it, having them vaccinate in droves. it seems to be quite virulent. Maybe Jeffrey Barnes would be
interested in working with you. he offered. Snape nodded.
True. He's always liked research and testing. I'll
send him a note. We could at least talk about preventatives
and cures, Snape's wheels were churning now, just like Dumbledore knew they would. The wizard loved to craft specialized potions; this year's influenza offered him the opportunity to indulge himself as well as help the school at large.
the Potions Master looked to his friend.
If the ministry sends out a researcher, could you
intercede? Last time was bad enough.'
Last time had been horrendous. Snape had customed a veritaserum for the ministry and the research department had sent both a researcher and an auror. Between the subtle threat of arrest from the auror and the assertions that Snape had done something wrong in creating the powerful truth serum both Snape and Dumbledore were more than reluctant to help again. Both were extremely glad they'd saved all the messages from the ministry to prove Snape had been asked to develop the powerful potion.
Don't worry, Severus. This is a cure for an illness,
not a tool for interrogation, Albus took the parchment back and glanced at it.
Anyway, it does come directly from Clarion, the head of
Medical research, not the Minister of Magic's office. They
must be desperate if they're asking for you to work on it. Snape shrugged, tacitly agreeing.
It looks as if they're asking most of the Potions professors
in the various wizarding schools to work on it, Snape noted.
All the better. Play with it, Severus, in your spare' time.
Both men smiled at that. Spare time? With a chuckle Dumbledore sipped his tea and they settled back into comfortable silence.
By the end of the week Snape had arranged for several students to help bottle up Pomfrey's potions and deliver them to the hospital wing. He knew from experience the witch would be more likely to be polite to the student delivery persons than if he did it himself. She actually sent a terse note of thanks, something she hadn't done in several years. He set it on the corner of his private desk under a small carved raven.
Over the next several weeks Snape played with the influenza potion. Dr. Jeffrey Barnes visited and went over specifics of the virus. They made several test batches of cures. The main difficulty was the number of symptoms the bug caused. Just reducing the fever did nothing for the nausea. Plus the dehydration was devastating. Antibiotics had to be blended in, a muggle-potion, to actually kill the virus. This made the potion's balance precarious. A one-dose cure was not possible; they finally managed to produce a seven dose course (once a day for a week) that seemed to work.
In any event, it did help with the first cases of chest and sinus infections that were cropping up in early November. Snape brewed a large caldronful and bottled it with Barnes; half went to Hogsmeade, half to the hospital wing. It took three days to brew an effective batch. Given too early it lacked the potency to knock out the infection. Of course, the longer it brewed the stronger it became. Four days was optimal, three days was satisfactory.
Dumbledore dutifully sent several bottles (enough for about 125 - 15cc doses) with the brewing instructions and ingredients, to the Medical Research department at the Ministry of Magic. He was careful to put both Barnes' and Snape's names down as the creators of the potion. He heard nothing in reply at that time.
It was the last of November when the first cases of influenza C' (as the muggles called it) began to crop up in Hogsmeade. The Saturday visit (first weekend of December) was canceled to reduce student exposure to the illness. Unfortunately, a few students slipped into town, some through hidden passages, some simply walked in without expressed permission. As one Slytherin put it, Best to asked forgiveness if caught than permission.
Barnes pointed out the virus could have been carried in by one of the owls that brought the mail. A letter or package from an infected relative. Whoever or whatever the culprit was, by the second week of December fully a quarter of the castle inhabitants were sick and it looked like the rest would catch it soon.
Class after class was canceled as each professor fell ill; and the classes that managed to meet contained fewer and fewer students. It was a vicious illness, within two days of onset the affected person would be bedridden, dizzy and nauseous with a ragged, wet cough. Snape gave up trying to teach and instead began brewing batch after batch of the healing potion.
Fortunately, the potion took effect quickly. After a few hours the nausea would subside. Even if they had no desire to eat the juice and water stayed down keeping them hydrated. By the end of the second day the extreme dizziness would be alleviated enough that most could get up and take care of themselves. This made it much easier for the house elves who had to help feed and care for the bedridden. By the fifth day most of the ill could dress and go down to eat in the hall.
Dr. Barnes sent a note stressing the final two doses were imperative. Several of his patients who'd skipped them, thinking they were cured, suffered relapses. The relapse was worse than the original illness. He and Snape had to modify the potion, making it stronger without causing serious side-effects.
By the third week nearly everyone in Hogsmeade seemed to be sick. Barnes and Pomfrey came down nearly simultaneously and Snape was left brewing and dispensing the potion. Letters to the ministry for help had gone unanswered for several days and it looked as though they would just have to ride the epidemic out.
By shear will Snape seemed to keep from catching the illness until the week prior to winter break. He had bottled up the latest batch of potion, sending it up to the hospital wing for a recovering Pomfrey to distribute when he began sweating profusely. He was bedridden within two hours. Dobby brought the message to the nurse asking for a dose for the Potions Master.
Pomfrey had immediately sent down a dose with the elf and the first symptoms were reduced significantly. The problem arose the next day when the Ministry came visiting. Much to the surprise of Pomfrey, (but not to Dumbledore) the Randall Clarion, head of research, confessed they hadn't made enough of the potion and were dangerously low. They took Pomfrey's entire stockpile, sans that day's dosing needs, and said they'd return once the next batch had been bottled to do the same. The nurse cautioned them it would be at least three days before a new batch would be available. The batch currently brewing would have to last three days for the school.
Pomfrey was furious! Without any warning the Clarion had simply taken her entire supply of medication. If anyone else came down with the illness that day they'd have to wait for the following day to get treatment. She stomped around the castle checking patients whilst trying to burn off her anger.
Stopping by the dungeons (something she normally would never do) she looked in on Snape and the latest batch of potion. He was curled up on his office couch, miserable, watching Dobby and Beryl stir the simmering brew and prepare bottles.
All of it, Poppy? he asked with a groan.
Yes, Severus, all of it, she confirmed.
I'll have to start at least two cauldrons more today, he grumbled, and you'll have to put some aside for emergencies.
I have only been doing one small batch at a time.
I know, Poppy said, we've only been brewing sufficient
potion for our needs and Hogsmeade! You better
get moving on brewing. We'll really need the potion in three
So Snape started two more cauldrons. It had been difficult when he felt ok to brew the one, now it was over-whelming. He at least had Dobby there with him most of the time. The elf actually was good at helping with the routine stuff. It was the middle of the night when Snape finally collapsed on the couch, Beryl tucking a blanket around him.
Hours later, Snape was roused sufficiently to direct the bottling of the readied potion. He took his dose, sent the rest of the batch to Pomfrey, checked the brewing cauldrons and managed to set out the ingredients to start yet another batch of potion before having to lie down. He was three days into the cycle, but lack of sleep slowed the healing process. He could barely keep anything in his stomach, had a difficult enough time trying to drink anything in the first place being so weak. Dobby and Beryl alternated checking on him while they performed their other duties. It was early afternoon when he was able to drag himself upright long enough to start the next batch brewing.
In the Headmaster's offices Dumbledore was finally out of his sickbed. After five days he felt well enough to get to his desk. Smack dab in the middle was a note from Pomfrey complaining about the Ministry's tactics taking all their potion for the current influenza. She had dutifully noted Snape was making a double batch and also that the Potions Master had become ill.
He wished he could bring Snape up to his rooms; just to keep an eye on him. He knew the Potions Master would run himself into the ground making the antidote. The potion needed tending and the only people competent to do so were Barnes and Snape. Dobby reported he was assisting the Potions Master and would keep the Headmaster updated on his condition.
The following day brought more problems. Pomfrey sent potion out to the ill via house elves. She had lists for each student tower as well as the staff. When she got to Snape, though, she assumed he'd kept a bottle of the potion for himself and neglected to send a dose down to the dungeons. Counting the bottles and estimating the dosing, she realized she would just have enough for the next morning. She would have worried, but the double batch would also be ready the next day.
Pomfrey had just closed up her cupboards when Clarion, complete with two security wizards came visiting' again. Cornering the witch the doctor quickly ascertained she'd given the daily doses out and she'd have a new batch available in the morning. He simply sent his cohorts into her supply room and strip all the potion from it.
Pomfrey protested loudly, demanding to know why they kept taking their stockpile.
You must be brewing your own supply, surely! she accused. The Mediwizard looked a bit embarrassed.
We have been, but the researchers didn't trust the
formulae from Professor Snape. They've been substituting
ingredients. Nothing they've come up with works as well
as his potion. They're starting to brew his recipe this
morning, but it will be three days before it's ready.
She stared at the wizard incredulously,
Didn't trust the recipe? Then for gods sake why did you
take our entire batch two days ago?
Because it was working for you. The lab analyzed it
and it matches the ingredients Snape wrote out, Clarion shamefully admitted.
So you think you have the right to waltz in here and steal
our entire batch because you didn't trust Severus??! Pomfrey was livid.
He's associated with the death eaters, ma'am, said one of the young aurors.
Alastor Moody warned us about him. As well as the
Minister himself, he finished. The nurse was flabbergasted. Yes, she disliked the Potions Master. She didn't actually trust him when she thought about it, but on the other hand he took his potions seriously and had never, never given her inferior potions in all the past years that she could recall. In fact, he always brewed superior products. Maybe she should rethink her hatred of the wizard after all.
Just get out, she spat. OUT! Don't come back!
Oh, we'll be back in tomorrow, when your double batch
is bottled. We'll need just enough to carry us until ours is
ready, and they left. Pomfrey sat down in the chair looking at the empty cupboard shelf. Twice, TWICE, they'd taken her supplies. Had the nerve to question Snape's formulae. She had to tell Dumbledore. Now.
The Headmaster was livid.
All of it, Poppy? he asked rubbing his eyes.
Every bottle, Albus. Plus they're coming back tomorrow.
I do not understand why they didn't just brew Severus's
potion to begin with, she complained.
Lack of trust. He has always, always produced clean
product for them. He has never failed to create what
they've asked for, to the detriment of his own health,
and yet they cling to the fact he was a death eater at
one time, Dumbledore shook his head. He was their
spy for gods sake!
Looking up the two wizards noted Beryl waiting politely. Dumbledore smiled slightly.
Hullo, Beryl. What do you need? Dumbledore asked kindly.
Professor Snape needs his potion, Madame Nurse forgets
it, Beryl said quickly. Pomfrey looked confused.
I thought he kept a bottle for himself, Beryl.
No, Professor Snape says take it all to Madame Nurse.
Professor Snape says he's too sick to dose himself.
Professor Snape says he forgets if he takes it already
so Professor Snape wants Madame Nurse to sends it and the loyal creature smiled waiting for the potion.
He didn't get any this morning? Pomfrey looked shocked.
No. Professor Snape fixes the cauldrons and goes
back to couch. Professor Snape needs his potion, the elf again smiled patiently.
I'll send a message over to Hogsmeade, Dumbledore pushed up and approached the muggle computer set up in the office. He typed his request to Dr. Barnes.
They'll send a bottle over, he assured the nurse.
Within twenty minutes Dr. Jeffrey Barnes was in the Headmaster's office, angry beyond measure.
They took our entire stock, too, Headmaster. Said they
needed to send some to other areas. They assured me
a new batch would be available in the morning.
Which doesn't help us now, Pomfrey said quietly.
No. But I will go down and check on Severus, Barnes said quickly, We'll treat the symptoms. I can give him some
antibiotics and fever potions for now. If he can keep
enough liquids down he'll be fine.