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...
Snape was back in bed when he came in. Lupin and Dumbledore were sitting in comfortable chairs starting to eat a light dinner. Smiling, Barnes made his way to the sleeping man.
He was a bit surprised at the fever, the potions had worn off quickly. Barnes reached into his bag and began to mix a new fever potion in the juice next to the bed.
Waking the Potions Master wasn't very easy, either. The Healer briefly thought about injecting a potion, but instead pulled the wizard up leaning against him.
Severus? Se-ver-us? he tried singing; he vaguely recalled Dumbledore singing to him on a few occasions. Snape breathed in deeply, rolled his head slightly and woke up. Two tired eyes regarded the Healer silently.
Se-ver-us, sip for me, he continued, holding the straw up to his mouth. Snape accepted the straw and began to draw up the cool liquid. Barnes coaxed him into finishing off the cup, then poured in cold water. Snape again took the straw and drank deeply. Releasing the straw, the Potions Master sighed and nuzzled into the Healer's shirt.
Barnes held the ill wizard until his breathing lengthened and he fell back asleep. He'd probably have held him longer still, but he noticed he had an audience waiting for him.
At some point Officer Murphy had returned and joined the two wizards. They had been watching quietly, waiting for Snape to fall back asleep. The healer gently lowered the wizard back on to the bed and tucked covers around him. He then walked over to sit in the chair left for him.
How's Professor Snape doing? the security wizard asked.
Sick. He's lost two days' worth of potion plus he's been
subjected to the cruciatus curse. I think he'll pull through,
but he's going to be down for a couple weeks, Barnes said.
Dumbledore shifted and sat up straighter.
That bad? the Headmaster asked, concerned.
I don't know exactly how difficult it will be to kick out the
virus. He had three days' work of potion and then has
basically skipped two days. I'm going to give him the more
potent solution tomorrow. The virus in and of itself is
dangerous. Coupled with his general poor health and toss in
that damned curse, I don't know even if two weeks will
be enough, Barnes glanced over at the sleeping man, hoping the fever potion was kicking in.
That damned curse is causing all sorts of trouble at the
Ministry, Murphy confided in them. The general feeling
is Clarion was trying to cover his butt and Adams is a
loose cannon. I've had trouble with him before and had
him on improvement plans before he transferred over to
the Minister of Magic's personal detail. He was working
on Fudge's orders. Murphy's face reddened in anger and concern.
None of us like the fact Fudge condoned the use of
force although he was quick to say he'd never allow an
unforgivable curse, he gestured towards the bed, Snape's
sick, for Merlin's sake!
Ah, but he's a death eater, Dumbledore said darkly.
We all know how treacherous they are. His companions looked at the Headmaster uncertain of how to answer.
For the gods sake! He's done everything they've
wanted. He's spied and brewed and suffered at both
Voldemort's hand and their own. Is there any wonder
why he's so damned angry all the time? the older wizard shoved out of his chair and paced across the room.
Murphy shifted uneasily trying to formulate an answer.
Albus, we know. Most of us at the ministry know. We
try our damnedest to be fair. Fudge just has this absolute
blind spot when it comes to Severus. Whenever he's in
to report I make sure one of us is with him, we don't let
him alone with any of Fudge's chosen, Murphy insisted. With a sigh Dumbledore stopped pacing and faced the security wizard.
I'm sorry, Murphy. I know you try. I'm yelling at the
wrong people, the Headmaster had stopped by Snape and reached down to push sweaty hair out of his face.
Dumbledore replied. Snape eyes flew open startled.
Severus? ssshh, it's ok, the Headmaster tried to soothe the frightened wizard. The movement brought the Healer. His patient was shivering.
I feel sick, Snape murmured, his color off. A pail quickly materialized as he lost what little he had in his stomach. Barnes was not pleased. He threw off the damp bedding and began to strip soaked sleep clothes. Too weak to help or hinder, Snape just curled up as tremors shook his body. A dry flannel sheet was carefully wrapped around the wizard and then the Healer simply levitated him to the lounge, protectively settling him onto his lap and wrapping more covers around his patient.
ssshh, it's ok, Severus, I have you, Barnes rocked slowly, humming a little until Snape went limp again curled against the Healer.
My bag, cup, straw, cool watered juice, Barnes rattled off and between the three wizards standing quickly secured the ingredients. More solutions were put into the cup.
Come on, Severus, you need to drink for me again, the Healer nodded at Dumbledore who helped hold the cup and sang softly to Snape. Straw into mouth and finally liquid was slowly drawn up.
You will be just fine, Severus. I will hold you for now, then
Albus will. We will protect you, I promise, Barnes leaned back with his patient gently sending a thin stream of energy to keep him relaxed. He felt Snape fall into sleep.
He'll be fine, Barnes told the assembled wizards. Just
needs to sleep and get more liquids to stay down. That
will help reduce the fever.
What about the lab, doctor? Murphy asked.
I have a list of the damages. I estimated the costs. I'm
sure my father can get the stock replaced easily enough.
The elves have done a great job cleaning up, Barnes added.
I'll take a copy back with me. I'm meeting with Fudge
in the morning. I want everything in order, Murphy grumbled.
Snape slept the evening snugged in either Barnes or Dumbledore's arms. Between the illness and the nightmares inspired by the curse only the closeness gave him any respite. He was re-wrapped twice as he sweated out the fever. Finally a sleepshirt was pulled on and Snape was tucked into bed between Headmaster and Healer.
First thing in the morning Barnes went down and bottled up the reserved potion. He wanted to dose Snape as soon as possible. The other cauldrons were simmering away. Beryl and Dobby had recruited a few other elves to watch the brewing. The Healer decided he'd need to start one more batch later in the morning. He'd confer with his father and Madame Pomfrey to see how many were still sick.
Returning to the Headmaster's rooms he found Snape curled into Dumbledore's robes while the older wizard was reading his morning mail.
Barnes inquired as he started to roll Snape back slowly.
Seems to be, he woke when I dressed but settled back
down. He said he felt nauseous but didn't loose anything, Dumbledore reported. With sure hands Barnes brought Snape partially upright cradled against him. Eyes fluttered opened.
Good morning Severus! he said cheerfully. I've brought
your medicine, he held the dosing cup. Snape inspected it carefully.
It's darker, he observed.
Let it brew an additional day. You're going to need the
extra oompf' to get better, Barnes brought it to Snape's lips and waited for him to swallow. The Potions Master was a little confused he decided, but the entire dose was swallowed without any other comments. A small drink of water followed. Further liquid was refused.
Need to keep this down, Barnes, Snape said, concentrating carefully. He'd turned paler, if that was possible. Putting his hand over Snape's midriff, the Healer began to soothe the rebelling stomach. He was surprised how upset it was, roiling in discontent.
The Potions Master was sweating freely, but not from the fever. It seemed more of a reaction to the potion.
Not going to stay, Snape managed through gritted teeth. The pail reappeared and the ill wizard lost everything that was left. Not much, potion and water. And a little blood. Worried, Barnes continued to soothe his patient until the retching ended and he fell limp against him.
What's wrong? Dumbledore was fairly alarmed.
I don't know; his body rejected the potion like it was
poisoned, the Healer observed continuing to pour in enough energy to keep Snape relaxed. Fresh water offered, then some potion to reduce the cramps. A little fever reducing potion. More watered juice. The shivering would not stop and finally Barnes simply pulled Snape tight against him, rocking and singing until he fell back asleep.
I need to check this potion. Something is not right, Barnes murmured. Dumbledore carefully slid in place as Snape was levitated onto his lap. If anything the tremor was more pronounced.
Is he cold? Why is he shaking so much? the Headmaster asked.
Fever. He's running nearly 103 F which is high for an
adult. The fever potion will kick in soon. If not we're going
to have to ice him down, Barnes moved to the bottle of stronger potion and opened it, giving it a cursory sniff. He then picked up a bottle of the regular strength and gave it a sniff.
Something's not right, the Healer commented. Pulling out his wand he took both bottles and his journal to the small table near the window. Barnes referred to the journal, searching back through several pages until he found the formula Snape had developed. He then poured a small puddle of the regular strength potion on the table top and moved his wand over it, casting a sorting charm on it.
Dumbledore watched with interest as the potion began to separate out in neat little piles. With another wave and murmur the piles arranged themselves in order, from first in to last added to the potion. Barnes began to touch each constituent in order and compared it to the listing in his book.
Well, that one's correct, the Healer commented. He proceeded to reach for the second bottle and poured another small puddle on the table repeating the charms and watching it arrange itself into its parts.
Dumbledore could see two additional blots on the table top.
Barnes touched the extra components and hissed angrily.
I need to go check on the other cauldrons. I'll be back
up within a half-hour. If Severus's fever gets worse, send
for me, and the Healer swept out of the room without clueing Dumbledore in to the potion's secrets.
Barnes was as good as his word, returning within twenty minutes. He carried a new vial in his hand as he sat next to the bed to check on Snape. The fever had not broken.
What else was in the potion, Jeffrey? Dumbledore asked
Arsenic and some comfrey. It could have been accidental,
since they tore through the cupboards and this particular
cauldron was set aside from the others. It could have
been on purpose as it was the only one altered. I have
no way of knowing. Ok, Severus, open, Barnes carefully tipped the vial into the drowsing man's mouth then teased it down his throat.
He needs to be cooled, the Healer continued tersely, levitating the limp body. All the Headmaster could do was follow the body and the doctor into the bathroom and help get the tub ready.
Snape was not pleased with the cold bath. Not at all. He struggled weakly trying to get out but was easily overcome by the Healer. Dumbledore gently cradled his friend's head as the other wizard took advantage of the water to clean his patient.
Soon the fever broke; sweat dotted the Potions Master's face and was wiped away. Snape gave up, no longer moving in the icy water. A trail of tears flowed down into the bath.
Can we take him out, Jeffrey? Dumbledore asked quietly. A mute nod and the still body was levitated and dried. A clean flannel sheet was wrapped around and soon Snape was once more curled up in the Headmaster's arms on the lounge.
Try to get some broth in him, Albus, and more juice. His
stomach should be less touchy now, Barnes turned, gathering his things and put on his cloak.
Where are you going, Jeffrey? Dumbledore looked with concern at the extremely quiet Healer.
I have to speak with my Father. He or I will be back in
a few hours. Severus should sleep. If his fever spikes
you'll have to use an ice bath or just use ice packs on the
fever points: groin, armpits, neck, forehead. He should be
fine, though. I gave him a potion to counteract the arsenic
and stomach cramps, Barnes gave him a tight smile.
He really will be just fine, Albus. The Healer swept out of the room.
Snape was as weak as a newborn kitten and wanted to do nothing but stay wrapped in his mentor's arms. He conceded to sipping broth and juice, though. His stomach remained settled and much to Dumbledore's relief the fever stayed down. Several hours passed. They moved out into the sitting room near the fire so the Headmaster could read his owls.
James Barnes knocked and entered the Headmaster's offices just before four pm. He'd gone with Jeffrey to view the potions lab and check the cauldrons then they parted. His headstrong son had an appointment at the ministry.
He found the patient curled tight against Dumbledore black hair pulled back in an simple pony tail.
Good afternoon, Headmaster. Let me sit with the patient
for awhile, the older healer said, levitating Snape up and allowing Dumbledore to slide out.
Thank you, James, the wizard replied, stretching his back and legs. He'd been sitting a long time and the movement felt wonderful.
How has Severus been? Barnes pursued, running a light scan over the ill wizard. He frowned at what he felt'.
Dumbledore prompted without answering.
Arsenic. I hate the effects on a body. Jeffrey's neutralized
it and it won't cause Severus any further problems, the Healer was now soothing his patient, arranging the body as comfortably as possible over him. Also, he's one of the sickest
from the flu I've scanned. The three worst died.
Which didn't comfort Dumbledore at all and he sat down on the couch.
He's not out of the woods yet, Albus. Jeffy done a great
job stabilizing him, and the poison is taken care of. He's
just very, very, sick, Barnes leaned closer to Snape gently stroking his hair.
And you don't take care of yourself, do you Severus? We
will work on that, I promise you!
He's never taken very good care of himself, Dumbledore commented, leaning back on the couch.
Some of our more spectacular fights are over him
not eating or sleeping enough.
Barnes rumbled deep in his chest, almost a predatory purr, as he ran a little healing energy into his patient. With a comfortable sigh, Snape began curling closer.
We'll see, the Healer muttered. His patient began to wake, the smell had changed. With a drowsy murmur Snape surfaced.
the wizard questioned.
Here, Severus, Dumbledore said, touching his friend's back.
I'm here, too. Dr. James, rumbled the Healer. Snape blinked blearily and looked at the Headmaster, listening to the heart beating.
I think you might like a bath, Severus. Then perhaps a
little something to eat, Barnes said, gently pulling his patient up sitting against him as he swung his feet to the floor.
Hi Dr. James, Snape said weakly as he leaned against the wizard for support.
the Healer murmured, gathering the desperately ill man up with a slight levitation charm. Dumbledore followed them into the washroom. It bothered him how Snape did not struggle, did not complain, did not even seem aware of his surroundings. Water was run into the tub and the Potions Master slipped in with a weary sigh. All the sweat and agony was gently washed off. Hair was carefully tended to and wrapped in a dry towel.
Am I going to get better, Dr. James? Snape's thin voice plaintively asked. The Healer continued to dry various parts of his floating patient.
Of course you are, Severus. You're just very sick. I'm
going to help you get better. Then I'm going to help you
take care of yourself, ok? You need to take better care
of yourself when you're not so sick, Barnes soothed the limp patient.
Why? It doesn't matter much what I do. I try and try
and it never makes any difference. I'm never going to be
forgiven for what I've done, the defeated voice wafted up and cut through Dumbledore's heart. He had to stand and touch and comfort his child.
You have more than atoned for your mistakes, child. You've
done a great deal more, he said quietly, looking Snape in
the eyes; deep sad eyes.
I know you love me Albus. I love you, too. But the
Ministry, the magical community, will never accept me, the voice was shaky and full of unspilled tears.
Severus, sssshh, you are too sick to worry about the
fools at the Ministry. As for the magical community, there
are many who respect you. Let's get you well and then
we can work together to make you feel better, the rumbling purr of the Healer soothed the ill wizard. Hair was dried and braided. Lotion was rubbed into skin, a sleepshirt pulled on and thick socks tugged onto feet.
Sitting at the table was out of the question for Snape. He couldn't walk, couldn't hold himself up at all. Dr. James carefully cradled him in the lounge, pillows supporting him as he sat. Then he was fed spoon after spoon of warm oatmeal, some fruited yogurt, and a mug of watered juice. Dumbledore hovered nearby ready to help.
Finally the Healer mixed a powdered potion in the remains of his juice and held the straw patiently while Snape slowly drained the cup. Satisfied Barnes removed several pillows and lowered the ill man down. Covers were pulled up as sleepy eyes watched.
Sleep, Severus. I will clean up and then hold you, Dr. James murmured, running his hand over Snape's face. Eyes closed and he waited a moment until the ill wizard slipped into sleep. He stood and turned to the Headmaster.
He's fine, Albus. After I put things away I will pulse him
for awhile. The fever is staying down and he's held in
his liquids. I think he'll weather through just fine, Barnes said gently. He began to stow odds and ends into his satchel.
I'm worried, James, he's so weak and he's given up, Dumbledore slid into the chair next to Snape and simply watched him sleep.
He is weak. But I don't think he's quite given up. He just
feels everyone else has given up on him. As far as that
damned Ministry is concerned, he might have a point. But
I know of several people that care for him, respect him, for
who he is and what he's done. I plan to help get him through
this influenza then I will work with him, James' asserted looking Dumbledore square in the eye.
I will need your help, Albus. Together we will help Severus.
There is a saying that no good deed goes unpunished. Which was very nearly the case for both Snape and Jeffrey Barnes.
When the Ministry (read: Fudge) refused to recognize the makers of influenza potion in any way Barnes stormed out of the building intent on finding a more sympathetic ear at the Daily Prophet. Which resulted in the young Healer being detained by the Minister's special unit overnight.
Which resulted in Dumbledore entering the Ministry with the editor of the Daily Prophet whom he'd just happened to run in to at the Leaky Cauldron. Ian Clayton was very much interested in meeting one of the wizards responsible for helping so many in the magical community. Faced with the Editor's irrepressible good will and not so subtle threats Fudge brought Dr. Barnes up to his office for a small interview. It was Clayton who arranged for the community to express their thanks when it became very apparent the Ministry would not.
In the long run the individual outpouring of owls and small gifts was much more appreciated than anything the Ministry would have conceded to present. Dr. James made sure Snape read each and every note that came. He also organized a sweets tasting as home made divinity and fudge (Snape's and Jeffrey's favored treats respectfully) literally poured in covering a large table in the great hall.
Christmas was subdued that year; the students that remained were few and the staff was glad of the break. Even the castle itself seemed to drowse in comfortable lethargy for the holiday. Although there were a few upset stomachs after the sweets were consumed.
And so time quietly passed until the spring rains swept the castle grounds beating a gentle cadence on the Headmaster's windows. He sat indulging in a hot cuppa with his Potions Master nattering over bits of news and gossip from within and without the school. Dumbledore shifted a few parchments on his desk and selected an embossed Ministry letter that was handed over to Snape.
Seems there's a small outbreak of influenza this spring, the Headmaster commented in his most unpressing tones.
The medical research department is requesting assistance.
Snape looked at the letter for a long moment his lips pursing slightly in concentration.
the Potions Master snarled at the offending parchment.
It was all that Dumbledore could do as he smoothed his beard not to burst into laughter.
I take that as a definite no then... he murmured.