Harry's Sick Christmas Holidays
by Healer Pomfrey

All recognizable characters belong to J. K. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.
I am not a native speaker of English. Please excuse my mistakes.


Harry woke up sneezing. "Atchoo." He shivered a little under his blankets, wondering why the dormitory was so cold on this morning. After all, his roommates were all still there, since it was the last day of classes before the winter holidays of his first year at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, and only tomorrow everyone except for him would be heading home. His friends Hermione and Ron had wanted to stay at Hogwarts over Christmas to keep him company, but the Weasleys had decided to take all children with them to visit Charlie in Romania, and the Grangers had insisted that Hermione should return home for Christmas, so Harry would not only be the only student in his dormitory but also in the whole Gryffindor tower, who was going to remain in the castle. 'Better alone in Gryffindor than with the Dursleys,' Harry thought and cast a glance at his alarm clock, noticing that his head was pounding and his nose felt a bit congested.

'Oh I just hope I won't get sick right now. Maybe I shouldn't have played Quidditch in the snow the whole evening,' Harry thought, groaning inwardly. He dragged himself out of his bed, searching for clean clothes before he went to take a shower, hoping that the warm water would help clearing his head. He lingered under the hot shower until he heard the other boys enter the bathroom, quickly dressed and returned to the dormitory, sitting on his bed to rest his tired and slightly achy body until it was time to head to the Great Hall for breakfast.

Ten minutes later, Ron was standing in front of Harry, who had proceeded to rest his head on his pillow, looking very pale with flushed cheeks and dark rings under his eyes. "Harry, are you all right?" he asked worriedly.

"Of course," Harry replied, trying to look as healthy as possible, and quickly got up, glad that his friend was already through the door, when he swayed and had to grab the nearest wall to steady himself. As soon as the momentary dizziness passed, Harry quickly followed Ron down into the common room, where Hermione was waiting impatiently.

"Did you think the holidays had already begun?" she asked, an annoyed expression on her face. "Breakfast has already commenced, and you know that we have Potions first, so we don't have too much time to spare anyway."

"Sorry Hermione," Ron answered, giving his friend an apologetic glance.

Harry opened his mouth to apologize as well but ended up sneezing, "Atchoo, atchoo."

"Harry, are you all right?" Hermione asked, while her features softened in concern. "Did you catch a cold?"

"I'b all right," Harry replied, hating how congested his voice sounded, and couldn't help letting out a small cough, feeling very self-conscious since his best friends were both watching him now. "I'b fibe, let's go abd eat breakfast," he said hurriedly, and the trio quickly walked down the stairs to the Great Hall.

Harry was in fact grateful that they only had five minutes left before they had to leave for their first class, since he was not hungry at all. He more or less spent the time staring at his toast, noticing that the jam on it had the form of a dragon that breathed a lot of hot flames, making him feel overly hot. His friends, who were still watching him in concern, realized that he at least drank three glasses of pumpkin juice and decided not to comment on his lack of appetite for the moment.

Seeing that his friend was obviously feeling under the weather and would probably need help brewing his potion, Ron proceeded to pair up with Neville, leaving the chair next to Hermione to Harry. Harry gave him a grateful nod, while he slipped into the empty seat, glad to be able to sit down. An instant later, the professor entered the classroom, shutting the door with a 'bang.' He pointed his wand at the board, and a list with potions ingredients appeared. "Get these ingredients; we will be brewing a simple headache potion today," he snarled and cast a look void of any emotion around the class, noticing that Granger mumbled something to Potter, apparently telling the lazy boy to stay put while she went to gather the ingredients.

Harry was more than glad that he didn't have to stand up and could use all his energy to try suppressing his coughs and sneezes – more or less successfully. As soon as Hermione came back, she started to whisper orders to Harry, letting him cut and prepare the ingredients, while she put them into the cauldron on time and stirred the potion as necessary. Suddenly, Harry began to shiver violently, and when Hermione worriedly enquired if he was all right, he opened his mouth, not able to prevent himself from letting out a huge sneeze that partly landed in the cauldron, making the potion explode in the blink of an eye. Fortunately, Hermione was alert enough to pull Harry away from their table, while the potion spread over the table and the floor.

"Oh, I'b soddy, Herbiode," Harry said apologizing.

"It's all right, Harry, but maybe you should go and see Madam Pomfrey," his friend replied, concerned.

"Potter!" the professor barked angrily. "Detention tonight and tomorrow evening at eight o'clock! You will clean out the Potions classroom without magic for being so careless and making such a mess."

"Yes sir," Harry replied, trying to keep his face blank.

"But Professor!" Hermione spoke up. "Harry is sick, and it was neither his fault nor his intention to blow our cauldron up."

"Ten points from Gryffindor for disturbing my class, Miss Granger. It's typical for Mr. Potter to attract attention at any time," the professor sneered. "That is zero points for both of you today," he continued, writing something on a paper on his desk.

"He's an absolute git," Ron complained on their way up to the History of Magic classroom. "Hey, Harry, you should go to the hospital wing and let Madam Pomfrey tell Snape that you can't do detention today or tomorrow."

Harry determinedly shook his head. "Doe, den I'd habe to do de detebtion ob Christbas day. I'll just go abd get it dob."

In the meantime, they had arrived at the History of Magic classroom and took their seats in the back of the room. Harry let out several sneezes, quickly digging in his pocket for a tissue. After heavily blowing his nose he was so tired and his head felt so heavy that he put his head on his arms on the table, ready to take a nap during the lesson. He only woke up when Hermione shook his shoulder and told him, "Harry, class is over. Let's go."

"Yay, let's go to the Great Hall. I'm starving," Ron shouted happily, shouldering his bag.

Harry groaned and explained, "I'b dot hubgry; ibstead I'b goibg to take a short bap."

Hermione eyed him in concern. "Harry, we'll bring you something to eat; you must eat something."

"All right," Harry relented, feeling too miserable to argue, especially as he slowly felt his voice getting hoarse.

Half an hour later, Ron and Hermione inefficiently tried to wake Harry up. He merely let out a groan, followed by several sneezes, and turned towards the wall, feeling incredibly grateful towards Ron when he heard him say, "Just let him sleep, Mione; he won't eat anyway, and we can try to wake him up again before we have to go to Care of Magical Creatures."

'Thank Merlin, just leave me alone,' Harry thought, closing his eyes again. Too soon, his friends woke him up again, and after an annoying discussion if he was well enough to attend his last lesson before the holidays, the three friends headed down to Hagrid's hut. During class, Harry got the impression that his head was going to explode, and in spite of the two warm sweaters he was wearing under his robes, he was shivering from the cold. On top of everything, a heavy snowstorm began while they were heading back to the castle, and by the time the friends arrived back in their common room Harry was feeling absolutely awful. 'Oh, I could kill for a dose of Pepperup potion; if I only knew that Pomfrey wouldn't keep me in the hospital wing over Christmas,' he thought, while he continuously blew his nose.

After instructing his friends to wake him up in time for his detention with Professor Snape, Harry went straight back to bed. He only took off his robe and slid under the blankets, feeling hot and cold at the same time. It didn't take him long to fall into an exhausted sleep, but he woke up every now and then due to his coughs. A few hours later, Harry woke up to an ice-cold hand on his forehead.

"Harry, you're burning up. You're in no condition to attend detention, let alone with Professor Snape," Hermione told him in a soft but determined voice.

"I habe to," Harry replied and lazily opened his eyes, looking into his friend's warm, brown eyes.

"Harry, please sit up for a moment; I want to take your temperature," she continued and pulled a Muggle thermometer out of her robe pocket, which she put on the night table, while she helped Harry to sit up a bit. "All right, now, open up, Harry," she instructed him, coaxing the ice-cold device under his tongue as soon as he opened his mouth to contradict.

Harry shivered, feeling the cold thing in his hot mouth very annoying. "I dobbada, koo dood, I'b feebig," he tried to speak around the thermometer.

"Harry, please stop fighting it and shut up for a moment," Hermione admonished him sternly, while Ron went into the bathroom to look for a spare blanket, which he draped over Harry a minute later.

After what seemed to be an infinite amount of time, Hermione finally plucked the thermometer from his lips, gasping as she looked at the display. "Thirty-nine point one, Harry, you have a high fever, you can't go to detention," she said, looking at him in concern.

Harry glanced at his wrist watch and saw that it was nearly time to head for the dungeons, knowing that he wouldn't be able to hurry down there in his normal pace. "Sorry, Herbione, but I really habe to go." He put a few packs of tissues into his robe pocket and slowly stood up, glad when Ron extended a hand to steady him until the dizziness passed.

"We'll accompany you, mate," Ron offered after exchanging a glance with Hermione and proceeded to steady Harry's right arm, while Hermione took the left. Together they walked down to the dungeons, arriving in front of the Potions classroom five minutes early.

Harry profusely thanked his friends, before he let out a few coughs to clear his throat and blew his nose, hoping to get rid of the worst congestion before he had to talk to the teacher, who despised him so much. "I'b fibe, you cab go back," he said then before he knocked at the door and was called in immediately. He had already opened the door when he heard Hermione ask worriedly, "Are you sure, Harry?"

He quickly returned a "Yes," before he turned to the teacher. "Good ebebig."

"On time for once, Potter," the teacher greeted him. "You have tonight and tomorrow evening to clean this classroom. You will not use any magic. Everything you are going to need is in the cupboard over there." He pointed to a small door. "Hand me your wand, you will get it back when I dismiss you in time before curfew."

However, the professor's words had not been able to penetrate Harry's foggy mind, and Harry wearily eyed the teacher, making no move to hand over his wand. 'What does he want?' he wondered, seeing the professor's outstretched hand.

"Your wand, Potter," Snape repeated impatiently.

"Oh, I'b… hatchoo, hatchoo… I'b sorry, Professor," Harry replied, handed over his wand and turned to the cupboard to start cleaning, groaning inwardly when he remembered that curfew started later during the holidays, so that he would have to work on the room for nearly three hours.

HP

In the meantime, the teacher retreated to his office to start grading tests. He left the door slightly ajar, and Harry's continuous sniffling and coughing once in a while didn't go unnoticed. 'Maybe the child is really sick,' he thought. Not that he cared, of course not, but he didn't want to get a dressing-down by Poppy because of letting a sick child serve detention. 'All right, I'll let him go an hour before curfew, so that he doesn't have to run back to Gryffindor,' he decided.

Harry had much experience in cleaning, courtesy to the Dursleys, and two hours later, he had already cleaned all tables and chairs and was just engrossing himself with the cupboard housing the ingredients.

Snape entered the room to release his student for the night and was astonished how clean the room already looked although the floor wasn't even cleaned yet. He told Harry to finish for today, but Harry's ears were so clogged that he didn't hear the professor. He only heard the teacher when he bellowed, "Potter!"

Harry quickly got to his feet, unobtrusively holding on to the wall with his left hand for a moment, before he turned his eyes up to the teacher. "Here!" Snape held out his wand. "Take your wand and return to your dormitory. I expect you here tomorrow at the same time."

"Yes sir," Harry replied hoarsely and slowly made his way back to Gryffindor tower, where a huge party was taking place. Ignoring his jolly housemates, he silently passed the common room and went straight up the stairs into his dormitory, took of his shoes and his robe and scrambled into bed.

A minute later, Ron and Hermione entered the room and sat on the edge of his bed, eying him worriedly. "Was everything all right, mate?" Ron asked, while Hermione carefully extended a hand to feel Harry's forehead, frowning at how hot it felt to the touch.

"He made be cleab de classroob, all de tables agd chairs, agd de cupboard wid de idgrediebts. I odly habe to fidish de cupboard agd de floor toborrow," Harry explained and exhaustedly closed his eyes.

"Wait, Harry, don't sleep yet. Look here," Ron called out, making him open his sore eyes once more. "Fred and George snuck into the hospital wing in an attempt to nick some Pepperup potion for you, but they only managed to grab this before Pomfrey returned." He held out a phial of Dreamless sleep potion.

"That's not bad either," Hermione agreed. "You should take at least half of it and get a good night's rest."

'Maybe then I won't feel so achy anymore,' Harry mused and gratefully took the phial from his friend, gulping down the potion quickly, leaving half of it for the next night. By the time Hermione placed a cool cloth on his forehead a few minutes later, Harry was already fast asleep.

Thanks to the potion, Harry slept through the night without even waking up by his own sneezing. He only woke up in the morning to Hermione's ice-cold hand on his forehead and cheeks. He felt even worse than the day before, and not only his head but also his throat was very sore, he was still feeling hot and cold at the same time, and he could barely open his achy eyes. "Harry, please wake up," he could hear Hermione's voice and lazily opened his eyes just a little bit.

"Come on, Harry, it's time for breakfast," Ron said in a voice that sounded as if he was trying hard not to sound too happy.

"Let me take his temperature and see if he can get up at all," Hermione admonished him and helped Harry to sit up a bit, sitting behind him so that he could lean onto her, before she forced the thermometer into his mouth, ignoring Harry's shivering as well as his complaints.

"Ron, maybe you should go on to breakfast, we'll follow you in a few minutes," Hermione finally told the boy, who was impatiently jumping from one foot onto the other by the time Harry took the thermometer out for the third time in order to let out a few harsh coughs."

"Sobby Bon," Harry apologized around the thermometer, leaning on to Hermione, who carefully stroked his flushed cheeks.

"Maybe I should stay here with you," she mused aloud in a soft voice. "I don't feel good leaving you sick and alone here in Gryffindor. Oh my, thirty-nine point two. It's even higher than in the evening, Harry, that's not good," she interrupted herself. "Harry, that's not a cold. It's the flu or something like that. You must go to Madam Pomfrey."

"Doe, I'll be fibe. I'll just stay id bed udtil by detentiob," Harry replied, coughing harshly. Seeing how worried his friend seemed to be, he added, "I'll be fibe, I'b dot goig to die," and even joined her for breakfast in the Great Hall, eating two spoons full of soup.

"Detention on Christmas Eve is like a bad joke anyway. Harry, I want you to write to me; I'm so worried about you," Hermione instructed him firmly, before Ron and she left for the carriages that brought the students to the station.

"You cad take Hedbig bid you agd bite first," Harry answered hoarsely, before he retired to bed, setting his alarm clock to seven o'clock in the evening. He spent the whole day in bed, feeling very ill and absolutely awful but also extremely grateful to Hermione, who had placed several pitchers of water as well as a pile of boxes of tissues on his night table – together with the thermometer, which Harry didn't feel inclined to use, and the phial with the rest of the sleeping potion.

In the evening, Harry dragged himself down to the dungeons for his detention. 'It's strange,' he thought on his long way during the empty halls. 'I had expected that someone would come to bother me when I neither showed up for lunch nor dinner, but they've obviously forgotten that I'm here. Thank Merlin; I couldn't use any fussing now.'

Two hours later, Harry hesitantly knocked at the slightly open door to the teacher's office. "I'b fidished, sir."

Snape entered the classroom and looked around, seeing that the room was cleaner than it had ever been since he had begun to teach at Hogwarts. He also took in the boy's flushed cheeks and glassy eyes that didn't have their normal brilliant green colour, which reminded him so much of his old friend Lily. "Well done. Ten points to Gryffindor," he said loud enough for the student to hear and held out Harry's wand. "Potter!" he called the child back just before he left the room. When Harry turned back, quickly suppressing a groan, he added firmly, "I'll see you at breakfast tomorrow."

"Yes sir," Harry replied weakly and tried to leave the classroom as quickly as possible, before he very slowly made his way back to his dormitory, where he gulped down the rest of the sleeping potion, feeling very thankful towards the Weasley twins.

In the morning, Harry didn't even bother to leave his bed except for a quick and necessary excursion to the bathroom. He felt absolutely miserable and had the impression that his whole skin was burning and sore along with the rest of his body. He didn't even notice the presents that were piled at the foot of his bed. A few hours later, even his chest was sore from the harsh coughs. 'Oh, I was so stupid,' he thought. 'I should have gone to see Madam Pomfrey when I still had the energy to walk to the hospital wing. I can't walk so far now.' Several times during the day, he fell into a restless sleep, filled with fevered dreams.

Hermione, Ron, and Harry were sitting on the grass next to a lake, having a picnic. Suddenly, a volcano Harry hadn't even known that it had been there erupted, and Hermione told him, "Harry, you must point your wand at it and say the incantation."

Harry obediently stood up, pointing his wand at the flowing lava, and turned back to Hermione, "What is the incantation?"

"Finite Incantatem," Hermione admonished him, getting impatient.

"No, he's too slow. Come on Hermione, Harry, we have to run, otherwise it'll kill us," Ron shouted at them, starting to run away.

"No, I'm sore, I can't run," Harry replied and pointed his wand at the volcano. "Finite Incantatem," he cast the Spell several times, but nothing happened, and he woke up with a jolt, breathing heavily.

In the meantime, everyone, who had remained in the castle over the holidays, except for Harry, namely the Headmaster, the four Heads of House, and four Slytherin students, had assembled in the Great Hall for Christmas dinner. Suddenly, Dumbledore turned to McGonagall asking, "Minerva, where is Harry? Has he gone with his friends in spite of my explicit instructions? I have sent him a note together with a Christmas present I kept for his father all these years and asked him to come to see me in my office this morning because I want to give him something from his mother, which I'd like to hand over personally, but he never showed up nor did he attend any meals. Where is he?"

McGonagall let out a huge gasp, and her colleagues saw that her face had turned absolutely white. "I'm sorry, Albus, I completely forgot about Harry. I have no clue where he is, and I haven't heard anything. Since he didn't show up for any meal, maybe he went with his friends." She turned around confused when Snape let out a loud snort.

"Don't you check on your students in Gryffindor tower? I've checked on my four students yesterday evening, and if one of them hadn't shown up for breakfast or lunch today, I'd have gone to check on the student immediately again. Let me tell you where Potter is. He's ill. He's in bed asleep."

Before McGonagall could ask her colleague why he knew more than her as Harry's Head of House, a snowy white owl swept down the Great Hall, holding out a letter to the Headmaster.

"Dear Professor Dumbledore,

This is just to inform you that I'll be returning to Hogwarts tomorrow evening if that's all right with you. I'm too worried about Harry since he was so unwell when we left Hogwarts yesterday morning. I trust that in the meantime he has gone to Madam Pomfrey, so that he has been taken care of properly, but nevertheless I'd prefer to be at Hogwarts with him. My parents have approved my early return to the school, provided that they receive a confirmation from you or Professor McGonagall that I'm welcome to come back with the Hogwarts Express tomorrow.

Yours sincerely

Hermione Granger"

McGonagall stood up quickly; her face had taken on an ashen colour. "And Poppy is not here," she groaned. "Anyway, I'm going to look after him. Severus, can you keep your Floo open please, so that I can call you in case I need you?"

"Yes, of course, Minerva," Snape replied without his usual sneer, trying not to let his emotions show on his face. Not that he was worried about the 'Boy who lived,' it was just that a small voice in his head told him, 'You vowed to Lily to take care of the boy. Wouldn't that have meant to check on him last night when he was obviously ill instead of sending him back to Gryffindor alone?'

"I will reply to Miss Granger that she may come back tomorrow; all right, Minerva?" Dumbledore called after McGonagall, who was hurrying through the Hall.

"Yes, of course," she replied curtly, before she transformed into her cat form and dashed away.

Harry, Hermione, and Ron were sitting in the Gryffindor common room, doing their Transfiguration homework. "No, Harry, you got that wrong, four plus six is not twenty, it's twelve. So why did the wooden cat have six eyes? A cat has only four eyes."

"Four eyes? Are you sure, Hermione? But why do I have to do Maths for Transfiguration? I'm not good at anything, my head hurts too much," Harry replied in desperation.

"But you can't tell that Professor McGonagall when you have to say the incantation to transform the cat into a dragon."

"Ah, look there," Ron pointed out. "A dragon is just coming in the Common room."

Harry opened his eyes, which would only open a very little bit, and saw the dragon. It was very tall and had a green head. 'But why does his voice sound like McGonagall's?' he wondered. 'Strange.'

"Harry… Harry!" McGonagall called the boy several times, not able to force any reaction out of the child. She sighed, when she sat down on the edge of his bed, sadly taking in how ill the child looked. She carefully put a hand on the boy's forehead, causing him to slightly open his eyes, and frowned at the heat the child radiated. "Harry, are you awake?" she softly called out to Harry.

"Hi Pfessor," Harry croaked groggily, unconsciously leaning into the cold touch of her hand that still rested on his hot forehead.

"You seem to be very ill, Harry, what's wrong with you? Why didn't you tell me or go to Madam Pomfrey?"

"I wasb't feeling so ill deb, obdy today," Harry replied, while he struggled to sit up a bit, which he immediately regretted as he felt extremely dizzy.

"No, don't lie back yet, Harry," the professor said quickly and coaxed the thermometer into his mouth, noticing in concern how much Harry shivered at the cool touch. She quickly conjured a cool cloth and bathed the child's hot face while they waited for the reading to be finished. Finally, she took the thermometer back, looking at the result in shock. "Forty point eight," she said, terrified. "Harry, stay put, I'll be back shortly."

"Doe," Harry replied to her great surprise, taking her hand in his hot hand. "Please, dob't let be alobe. I dob't beel good; please…" The rest was drowned in a coughing fit.

"I will stay here with you, child, but you are very ill, and I have to call Professor Snape for help as Madam Pomfrey is away over Christmas." 'If Severus doesn't know what to do, I'll have to call her though,' she thought while she hurried to the fireplace in the Common room to call her younger colleague first.

When McGonagall returned to Harry's dormitory, Snape on her heels, Harry had already drifted away to fever induced dreams and mumbled something to them about dragons and snakes fighting him because he hadn't caught the Snitch in time. "But I cab't catch it today cause by body's too heaby abd sore today," he mumbled hoarsely.

Snape curtly waved his wand at the child several times before he let out a deep sigh and stepped back. "Minerva, he is very ill. It's not the flu, and it's obviously not a cold. I could be some kind of infection, or it…" He interrupted himself and addressed Harry in a very soft voice. "Harry, please tell me exactly where it hurts."

Harry opened his eyes as far as he was able to open them, before he let out a sharp cough and whispered, "Everything, but my head, throat, and chest are the worst."

"All right, then we can exclude poisoning. It must be some kind of respiratory infection; maybe it has already turned into pneumonia due to the neglect of whatever illness it was at the beginning. We have to call Poppy, even if it's only for a quick check-up, so that she can diagnose what it is and tell us what to do. I'd be willing to take turns with you to care for him," he added quietly.

"Then I'll go and Floo-call her. It will take a few minutes since I can only call her from my office," McGonagall replied in concern as she quickly crossed the room towards the door.

"No problem, I'll stay with Harry," Snape promised and conjured himself a chair right next to Harry's bed before he took the cloth McGonagall had conjured before, cast a cooling charm on it and began to bathe the child's hot face.

Suddenly, Harry began to thrash around, sobbing hoarsely, "Doe, please dob't, I probise I'll be good. Doe, please dot, Ubcle."

Snape sighed and sat on the edge of Harry's bed, pulling the child's head onto his lap. "It's all right, Harry, no one is going to hurt you. Professor McGonagall went to call Madam Pomfrey, and she will come soon and make you better."

"Doe," Harry replied horrified. "Den she will dow dat I slept ib History of Bagic abd dat I cabbot dow four plus six is tbebty. Abd Pfessa Begobagal will dow dat I didb't do by hobework."

"Shush, shush, everything is all right. Just rest and try to relax. You're ill and don't have to do any homework."

"Probise?" Harry enquired worriedly.

"Promise," the teacher told him, and McGonagall, who had re-entered the room, watched in amazement how the edges of her colleague's mouth pulled up to a small smile.

A few minutes later, Madam Pomfrey entered the room in a swift pace. "Minerva, Severus," she quickly greeted her colleagues, who immediately stood up from the edge of Harry's bed and stepped back to allow the Healer enough space to examine the child. She waved her wand over the boy several times, clucking disapprovingly and mumbling to herself at the same time. Finally, she turned to the teachers. "He is very ill. It's pneumonia, resulting from a bad cold that wasn't cured." She looked at her colleagues enquiringly. "Could any of you explain to me what happened? How could Mr. Potter get so ill in such a short time?"

McGonagall was too busy to fight back the tears that welled in her eyes due to the guilt she felt because of forgetting that Harry was there and not looking after him, so Severus quickly filled their colleague in about what happened. Pomfrey gave both of them a menacing glare, before she told Snape which potions Harry needed. While they were waiting for Snape to return with the potions that fortunately were potions, of which he usually kept a small amount in his stock, McGonagall turned to her friend. "I'm very sorry, Poppy, for not taking care of Harry and for calling you away from your family on Christmas day. You can go back now; Severus and I will take turns staying with Harry."

Pomfrey shook her head. "No, I'm going to stay here with him tonight. He's in a too bad shape to leave him in your care at the moment. Tomorrow morning, I will go back, but I'll come to look after him once a day, and you can of course call me anytime if he needs me."

During the next week, Harry drifted in and out of sleep, while Hermione and his two teachers took turns staying with him. Hermione sat next to him, cuddling him when he felt bad and reading to him from her favourite book "Hogwarts: A History," when he was more alert. McGonagall told Harry many stories about his parents and about the Animagus transformation whenever Harry was awake, while Snape used the time to explain to Harry basic knowledge about potions and potions ingredients. Madam Pomfrey came once a day to check on Harry and to give orders to McGonagall and Snape concerning the child.

On the day when the potions finally kicked in and Harry felt a bit better in spite of his still high fever, Hermione alerted Harry to the fact that there was a pile of Christmas presents waiting for him. "Christbas presebts for be? Doe, that cab't be, I dob't get Christbas presebts," Harry mumbled tiredly, unconscious to the surprised look Hermione and McGonagall exchanged.

"Of course you get Christmas presents," Hermione told him in disbelief.

McGonagall gave him a sharp look, asking, "Who told you that you don't get presents, Harry?"

"By relatibes," Harry replied in a small voice. "Cause I'b a freak, abd freaks bob't get presebts."

"Have you never got a Christmas present then, Harry?"

"Doe," Harry replied and shook his head, wincing at the pain the little movement caused.

"Well Harry, here are Christmas presents, and they are definitely for you," Hermione told him and managed to coax him into opening the colourful parcels that were waiting for him.

His three caretakers watched over him while he thrashed around in fevered dreams, many of them concerning his so-called family, unconscious to the fact that his friend and teachers learned a lot about his home life during that time. Once, Harry woke up to the voices of his two teachers, lively discussing something.

"We have to tell Albus about his home life; I feel so bad that I didn't fight him more when he insisted to leave the child with his horrible relatives," McGonagall said in a very upset voice.

"We can't allow him to return there for the summer," Snape replied, his voice lacking his usual sneer.

"But he can't stay in Hogwarts since students aren't allowed to stay over the holidays, and I'm much too old to take him in. Would you be willing to take him in then? If you had the guardianship over him, he could stay in the castle with you."

Harry, who was listening astonished, while he kept his sore eyes closed and tried to suppress a cough, nearly chocked, when Snape sighed deeply and replied thoughtfully, "Yes, Minerva, tomorrow morning I shall apply for the guardianship over him and take him in. I owe that much to Lily."

When Harry lazily opened it eyes, wondering if the conversation he had just overheard had been one of his fevered dreams, he witnessed a warm, fond smile that Minerva gave the younger teacher, before he let out a series of sneezes.

On the last day of the holidays, Madam Pomfrey finally told Harry that he would be allowed to get up in time for dinner on the next day when the students would be expected to arrive back. Harry thanked her profoundly for coming to look after him during the holidays before he lost himself in thoughts. 'Although I felt so bad, that were the best holidays I ever had. Not only because I received my first Christmas presents…' he mused, eying the warm sweater from Mrs. Weasley he had worn over his pyjamas whenever he felt cold, '…but also because I learned to know Hermione, McGonagall, and Snape so much better, and it really feels like having a family for the first time in my life.'

Hermione watched in concern when Harry silently began to cry. "Harry, what's wrong? Are you feeling worse again?" she asked worriedly.

Harry opened his eyes and gave his friend a weary smile. "No, Mione, I'm just so happy." He leaned over and placed a small kiss on her cheek.

When Snape took his last turn sitting with Harry that evening, Harry hesitantly told him, "Professor Snape, I'd like to thank you for taking care of me for such a long time and for teaching me so much about potions. It's really interesting, and I wished I wasn't such a dunderhead at brewing."

Snape gave the child a pensive look, while the edges of his mouth pulled slightly upwards. "If you're really interested, I can teach you how to brew. In fact, you should be very adept at Potions because your mother was one of the best Potions students when we were at school, and we often brewed together in our free time. If you want to learn it properly, come to my office every Monday right after dinner for an extra Potions lesson."

"Oh, thank you very much, Professor," Harry replied happily, tiredly closing his eyes. 'Ron will think I'm completely mad. Good that he doesn't know how much I've learned during these holidays from McGonagall, Snape, and Hermione,' he mused while he drifted off to a much needed, peaceful sleep.

HP

The first class on Monday morning was Potions, and Harry sat down next to Neville, looking forward to the class for the first time. "Please hand over your homework," the professor called out and walked through the room to collect the homework. When he stood in front of Harry, Harry said hesitantly, "Professor, as you know I wasn't able to do my homework because I was ill the whole time."

"As usual, a Potter always has to attract attention. Detention with me tonight straight after dinner," the professor sneered, and no one except for Harry and Hermione noticed the small twinkle in the obsidian eyes indicating the professor's slight amusement.

The End