A/N: This is an answer to Fic Fest Challenge #6 over at Potionsandsnitches. net. It is a one-shot, and I would welcome any feedback.
The morning's first rays of warm sunshine beamed into the living room windows of Number Four, Privet Drive, illuminating a neatly kept room filled to the brim with pictures of a happy, normal family. Upstairs, faint rustles could be heard as the occupants of the house prepared for another carefree Monday. Mr. and Mrs. Dursley rose from the bed at precisely seven o'clock, as they did every morning. Mr. Dursley kissed his wife's bony cheek as he headed for the shower, and Mrs. Dursley entered the room of her only son, Dudley.
"Dudley? Angel-sweetums? It's time to get up for school, darling." Mrs. Dursley gently shook the large lump of blankets located in the center of the bed. A messy blonde head poked out from the sheets, blinking irritably at his mother.
"Mum! Too early…want to go back to sleep!" Dudley proceeded to bury himself further into his warm bed as Mrs. Dursley chuckled lightly. She reached down and extracted her five year old son from his bed.
"I know, my Diddykins, but you must go to school. I would love for my little angel to stay at home with me all day long, but we know that you can't…" Mrs. Dursley carried her son into the hall bathroom, and got him ready for the day. As her husband entered the hallway, tying his work tie, she passed a fully dressed and mildly miffed Dudley to him. "Go ahead and get him some Sugary Flakes for breakfast-those are his favorites!" Mr. Dursley nodded absentmindedly, and took Dudley by the hand, leading him carefully down the stairs. Mrs. Dursley entered her bedroom and removed her dressing gown and the curlers from her hair as she made herself presentable for the day. She was putting on her pearl earrings when her husband's bellowing voice startled her.
"Petunia! The boy hasn't started breakfast! If he makes me late to work, so help me…"
Mrs. Dursley glanced at her watch and gasped quietly to herself. It was a quarter 'til eight- Mr. Dursley had to leave for work in thirty minutes, and she herself had to drop Dudley off at school. Where was the boy?
"I'll take care of it, dear! In the meantime, there's banana bread in the bread box!" Satisfied that that would hold her husband's interest, Mrs. Dursley immediately turned on her heel and stomped down the stairs. She glared furiously at the closed door of the cupboard under the stairs. "Potter!" she screeched as she pounded on the wood-grained door, "Are you asleep, you lazy little boy? Wake up, you! Quickly now!" Mrs. Dursley stepped back from the door a little ways, her hands folded under her breasts. A few minutes later, the small door creaked open, and a mop of unruly black head stuck out.
"I'm up, Aunt Petunia," the small boy said wearily, as he climbed fully out of the cupboard. He was a tiny thing with large green eyes that stared out from a pair of overly large glasses held together by a wad a garish tape. He stood silently as his aunt yelled a bit more at him, swatting at his behind as he rushed into the kitchen to fix breakfast for his family. Harry Potter was use to such treatment; after all, it had been all he had known his whole life. As soon as he was able to stand on his stool and see over the counters, Aunt Petunia had him in the kitchen-cooking, cleaning, and anything else that was needed. Harry didn't mind it really, but this morning, he felt a bit off color. As he tried to grip the heavy frying pan for the bacon, he was overcome by vertigo, and soon found himself on the floor of the spotless kitchen, holding his head as he desperately attempted to keep down his dinner from the previous night. His uncle looked up at the noise and raised his eyebrow at Harry.
"So, you sleep late, and then you drop the skillet, ay boy? Are you trying to make us late on purpose? Get up, boy!"
Harry stood up gingerly and picked up the frying pan from the floor. He carefully returned to his stool, and within minutes had a plate of bacon and eggs cooked. Aunt Petunia took the food to the table, and pointed Harry to his seat. Uncle Vernon was rambling about his plans for the day as Aunt Petunia spooned portions of breakfast on to everyone's plate. Harry looked down in silence at his eggs and bacon-for the first time, Harry couldn't imagine eating what was on his plate. His stomach felt strange; he had certainly never felt this way before. Harry tried to ask Aunt Petunia about it.
"Aunt Petunia, I feel…weird. My…tummy hurts, and the room likes to spin…"
Aunt Petunia looked at him from down her long nose. "You probably ate too much at dinner last night-give your breakfast to Dudley if you don't want it." Harry nodded glumly and passed his uneaten breakfast to his cousin. Uncle Vernon got up quickly, kissed Dudley on the top of his head and blew a kiss to his wife.
"Well, I'm off! Don't expect me for dinner, Petunia, I could be late." With that, Uncle Vernon left in the company car to his exciting day at Grunnings. A little while later, Aunt Petunia, Dudley, and a very silent Harry drove the short distance to Little Whinging Primary School. Aunt Petunia kissed Dudley on the cheek as he ran from the car into the brightly colored elementary school. Harry remained behind, and tried one more time to talk to his aunt.
"Aunt Petunia, I really don't feel good…my head hurts really bad. I just wanna stay with you today…Please?"
Aunt Petunia got out of the car and moved to open Harry's door. "Now see here, boy-you are going to school today, and that is final! I don't want to hear anything more about this 'sick' business. I do not have the time to deal with you-get going!" She roughly pulled Harry by the arm and tapped his behind in the direction of the school. Harry stopped a few meters from the door and watched his aunt drive away. Tears flooded his eyes suddenly. All he wanted was to know what was wrong with him; why didn't Aunt Petunia care?
Harry felt ill the whole day at school, as well as the next day. By Wednesday, Harry couldn't keep anything down. His whole body was wracked with chills and achy cramps, as well as a horrible cough that only seemed to grow worse as the hour progressed. As Aunt Petunia picked Harry and Dudley from school that afternoon, the school matron was standing outside, holding a shivering Harry. Harry had buried his face within the matron's crisp white shirt, trying in vain to get warm. Aunt Petunia parked the car and motioned for Dudley to enter as she walked toward the matron.
"Mrs. Dursley! Oh, thank heavens! We've tried reaching you at home, we even called your husband's work-we were about to take more extreme measures!"
Aunt Petunia frowned sharply. "I was at the market all afternoon," she said defensively, moving her arm to indicate the bags in plain view in her car. "What's wrong?"
"It's your nephew, Mrs. Dursley," the nurse said, gesturing to the crying child in her arms. "He's dreadfully sick; I would say it's pneumonia. You need to get him to a doctor, soon, Ma'am…his fever is very high." Aunt Petunia nodded stiffly, and the matron handed the sick child over to her. Aunt Petunia walked to the car and set Harry in. The drive home was relatively quiet. When they arrived home, Dudley scampered to his room to play with his new remote controlled car as Aunt Petunia took Harry into the bathroom.
"Here," she said, as she withdrew a dark bottle from inside the medicine cabinet. "This will help." Aunt Petunia guided a spoonful of a murky red liquid to her nephew's mouth. Harry swallowed obediently, sputtering a bit on the sour taste. "I know," Aunt Petunia said absentmindedly, "it has a horrible taste. Now, let's take your temperature." She promptly set him on the lid of the toilet, and placed a plastic thermometer under his arm. After a few moments, it beeped, and Aunt Petunia removed it.
"39 degrees," she murmured. "Well, that's nothing to get excited about." She looked at Harry irritably. "You little fibber! You made the school nurse track me down, and all for a touch of fever!" Harry's eyes grew wide as his aunt picked him up roughly and took him to his cupboard. "You'll stay in here-the fever will be gone by morning," she told him stiffly, before shutting the door with a bang.
It was dark in the cupboard. It was dark, and it was cold. Harry tried desperately to bundle in his threadbare blanket, but he only seemed to grow colder. The cough in his chest had only grown worse, and he'd thrown up twice since he had been put to bed. Harry moaned as his stomach ache grew worse, and the pressure in his lungs increased. Harry had never felt this bad in all his young life. Maybe if I close my eyes, I can pretend I'm somewhere else, Harry thought wearily. I could be in Heaven with Mum and Dad…or I could ride the flying motorcycle I dreamt about…Harry drifted into an uneasy sleep. All too soon, he was disturbed again by a muttered word. Harry's eyes shot opened as he heard a deep male voice that was certainly not Uncle Vernon's whisper a word that Harry didn't understand-but as soon as the voice uttered the nonsensical word, rays of light shot underneath Harry's cupboard door. Harry pressed himself all the way to the back of his makeshift bedroom, trying to evade the light. The light twisted away from the door, and Harry breathed a congested sigh of relief. Unfortunately, this seemed to give him away, as the light came rushing back to point at his cupboard door. Harry buried his head under his blanket, trying to hide as his door swing open neatly. After a few moments of nothing, Harry chanced a peak outside his blanket. A tall man stood stooped slightly to peer inside his cupboard. Harry's heart started racing, and he desperately tried to move himself away from the intruder as much as he was able. A hand reached out for him, and Harry cried out in fear.
"Now, now…calm yourself, child. I'm here to help you. Don't be afraid," the tall man said, moving back a little and pointing a long, glowing stick into the cupboard.
Harry blinked at the sharp light, and tried to get a good look at the man. He was wearing peculiar clothes, Harry decided, dressed in black from his head to his toes. Harry had never seen such a long piece of clothing before as what the man was wearing-it reminded him of one of his aunt's long dresses. Harry's head swam as he tried to take in everything. Shouldn't he let Aunt Petunia know about this man? But the man said that he would help him; and he felt so horrible. The man gestured for him to leave the cupboard. Harry shook his head. "I can't," Harry said in a wheezing voice, "I'm not allowed after dark."
The man sighed and reached a long arm into the cupboard and scooped Harry up. Harry stiffened immediately, and began to cry large tears as the strange man led him into the gleaming kitchen. He set him gently onto the counter and pulled out a crisp handkerchief.
"There now…dry your eyes, child. I'm going to make you feel better." The man set his glowing stick down on the counter and rummaged through several pockets in his robes. Harry was able to get a good look at him for the first time. He took in the long black hair, the narrow face, and the thin figure of the man before him, and came up with only one possible conclusion in his fever-induced state.
"Daddy?" Harry asked timidly, his fever-bright eyes wide as he watched the man stiffen. Black eyes met green as the man opened his mouth to retort; only to close it after a moment of silence.
"Here, Harry…drink this, and I promise you that you will feel better in the morning." The tall man held out a small bottle of blue.
Harry took it in his shaking hands and brought it to his lips. The liquid tasted horrendous, but as soon as Harry drank it, he could feel a warming heat flow through his body. The chills disappeared, and he beamed at the man. "I feel much better, Daddy," Harry said brightly.
The man simply shook his head. "I'm afraid that it gets worse before it gets better, Harry." Harry looked at the man in confusion, and suddenly a wave of sickness crashed over him. He hunched his shoulders protectively, only to find strong arms encircle his small body. "It's okay, Harry…I'm right here."
His daddy held him as he threw up all the nasty liquid from his lungs, as his body was wracked with tremors. Harry cried and cried, and his daddy just held him tightly, hugging him close to his warm body. Soon, Harry didn't feel sick anymore, and all he wanted to do was sleep. He burrowed closer to his daddy's warm skin and sighed. "Will you take me from here, Daddy? Can I come with you now?"
The man didn't answer as he wrapped a warm, soft blanket that seemed to appear in midair around Harry's small frame. He gently laid Harry back into his cupboard. Harry smiled sleepily. "I love you, Daddy," Harry said as he stared into his daddy's black eyes.
"I'll keep you safe, Harry…I promise. Obliviate."
The next day, young Harry Potter awakened feeling absolutely wonderful. His hyperactive five year old self soon reemerged, and Aunt Petunia smiled smugly to herself knowing that she had been right about the whole situation. Harry couldn't explain the new green and silver blanket in his cupboard, nor could he explain the occasionally feeling that someone was watching him.
But someone was watching young Harry Potter. And Severus Snape would always keep Harry safe.
Challenge: "Little Harry Potter is very sick at 4 Privet Drive. Snape comes to take care of him before his memory is erased."