Magical maladies

Hogwarts is temporary knocked out by a cold. The inhabitants of the castle react to the maladies in their own ways. Characters belong to Rowling.

When the snow started to trickle over Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft and the days grew steadily shorter, as on cue, the cold hit. Noses dripped, throats went soar and in each dormitory, corridor and classroom, the steady sound of coughing, sniffing and nose blowing could be heard. Madam Pomfrey did her best with pepper-up potion and by ordering people to bed, but even she had to admit temporary defeat to the onslaught of the viruses.

The class rooms grew steadily emptier, and those bleak students that made the effort spent so much time coffing, and so little time learning, that both they and their teachers soon began to wonder what the point really was. Besides, the teachers were in no better state. Snape stalked the corridors like an oversized, cranky bat, his overly large nose dripping, daring the frightened students to cough in his general direction, giving out extra homework at random. Flitwick had gone to bed, and Hagrid, kind soul - on whom no cold seemed to be able get a hold - went by once a day with soup, honey-mead and the latest gossip. "Poor little 'un," he would say and shake his head sadly. "Those tiny sneezes of his, makin' him bouncin' round in his bed like a rubber ball. Sad, really." Slughorn had retreated to his chambers as well, where he held court, the members of the Slug Club taking turns to look after him. His NEWT potion classes were asigned to improve the pepper-up potions. McGonagall, eyes swollen and nose itching, stayed in her classroom, like the captain of a sinking ship, refusing to let something as trivial as the health of her and her students get in the way of proper education. Trewelney had smugly barricaded herself in her tower since a week back. She had already forseen the epidemic and stocked up on food and cherry. She intended to sit this one out.

The cold struck Hufflepuff students loyally shared the load of looking after each other. They had moved their blankets and mattresses down to the common room to be able to go through this one together. When Ernie was on duty, he moved from bed to bed with an enormous tin of tea and a pot of honey, swept in an old, dusty blanket. When it was Hannah's turn, she brought fresh tissues and a sunny smile, only slightly dampened by her blocked nose and red eyes. Justin brought weird muggle remedies, such as acetylsalicylic acid and nose drops, but amazingly, they did things just a little easier. Even so, the Hufflepuffs were a wretched sight, bundled up all together around the fireplace.

The Slytherins were in no better state. Draco, spoiled prince, laid in his bed, moaning and agonizing, bullying his fellow students as well as he could to run errands and generally giving him attention. His mother sent him packet after packet with tissues, pepper-up potions, butterbeer, books, grapes and everything else she could think of that would make it easier for her beloved son to go through this time of trial. Pansy, despite her own cold, sat by his bed, feeding him grapes, now and then putting a cold hand on his forehead, wistfully wishing that she could be the one pampered with for once. Crabbe and Goyle were in a terrible state. Bound to their bed, eyes watering, throats soar, noses clogged and heads throbbing; they experienced the very rare and horrible sensation of not wanting to have anything to eat at all. And it scared them.

In the Gryffindor girls' dormitory Hermione was in a similar situation. She had, after considerable effort from Ron's side, finally admitted defeat and as the last student left her classes and allowed herself to be put to bed - but not until she had made a detour to the library, with the boys in trail as carriers, stocking up on "light reading." Now she laid in her bed, sullenly listening to the happy chatter of Lavender and Parvati - who took the cold in a stride, provided they got to stay in their beds, and no one actually saw them wtih bleak faces and watering eyes - surrounded by piles and piles of books, and a head aching far too much, and eyes far too swollen, and generally too tired; to be able to muster the energy to open even one of them. It made her grit her teeth, and sneer at the happily giggling Lavender. The two youngest Weasley siblings, in their respective beds, took the cold badly. They wanted to play Quidditch they complained, and no little invisible muggle bugs would be able to prevent them from it. But they didn't push this statement to the extent as to actually leave their snug beds. Frost were forming on the window. Neville Longbottom had in his passive way hibernated together with Trevor. They shared a chocolate frog and red about Martin the Mad Muggle by wandlight under the blanket. Now and then they sneezed in perfect harmony. Harry Potter slept blissfully in his bed, content in the knowledge experience had given him, that once he was in a hospital bed, further bad things wouldn't happen him for at least a little while.

The Ravenclaw tower was slightly draughty, and Cho shivered under her blankets, now and then begging her friends with weak voice for more blankets or hot water bottles or perhaps a little warming charm. Marietta had drawn the curtains of her bed, happily enjoying a few days of not having to be anyone but herself, not having to worry about what people thought of her. Luna Lovegood, her large eyes faint from the cold, had stocked up on chocolate and biscuits, and if her condition limited her body to the bed, there was never any limit for her bubbling, sparkling creativity and imagination. Her bed was a ship, the curtains sails, and she was a pirate queen (or perhaps a famous explorer - she hadn't quite made up her mind about that, yet), roaming the salty sea in search for plunder (or perhaps the frinkling Sargasso-sea-kelpie). Her nasally hummed sea songs, now and then interrupted by a cough, made her dorm mates roll their eyes - but then again, they were used to their 'Loonie' by now. One of them did a half hearted attempt to hide her tissue box - Luna had bought it in Hogsmead and spent a constructive afternoon, decorating it with crayons, glue and glass beads - but her own cold made her reconsider the wiseness in depraving a cold struck room mate the ability to blow her nose.

Albus Dumbledore, in his cosy, cramped office, sat by his desk, attending his paper-work, and now and then conjuring an embroided silk handkerchief from thin air, blowing his thin nose and vanishing it in one, practised move. Fawkes sat loyally by his side, allowing his master to warm his hands on his flaming body. For each time he coughed, Albus felt the aching of old age and worn lungs ripple through his body. His withered hand hurt like a gnawing toothache. But he didn't complain. He was confident that things were for the best.

Filch and his cat roamed their usual round through the corridors - to set in their ways to let any kind of cold stop them - in the happy knowledge that for once the students were engaged with more pressing issues than despoiling the castle. He blew his nose with an old rag and whistled contently an old Christmas carol out of tune. Mrs Norris sneezed by his side.