Chapter 23

"You won't be allowed to fly anymore until the end of the Christmas holidays, while your broom will remain in my office. Also, you will write one hundred times, "I have to obey instead of aggravating my condition."

"Yes, Mummy," Harry replied, inwardly groaning. 'My six year old fingers are too clumsy; it'll take me ages to write that one hundred times,' he mused wearily, while he followed his adoptive mother up to her office. That was at least what he thought, before he found himself in front of the hospital wing.

Minerva made Madam Pomfrey check on Harry, and she told her that he had a slight cold apart from his normal eye problems and ordered him to stay in bed for the rest of the day.

"Thank you, Poppy," the Gryffindor Head of House told the Healer and ushered Harry into the office, from where they took the Floo home immediately.

HP HEALER POMFREY HP

The next week was horrible for Harry. His condition was a bit better, so that Minerva took him to the hospital wing every morning, where Madam Pomfrey gave him the aging potion and let him rest until lunchtime, and after lunch he had to serve detentions in the Potions classroom, before his guardian came to fetch him and floo home with him.

When they returned home in the evenings, Harry was always exhausted from scrubbing cauldrons all afternoon, and Minerva sent him to bed straight after dinner.

"Tomorrow, you'll have to write your lines, Harry," Minerva told an eleven-year-old Harry in her soft voice when she tucked him in on Friday evening.

"Yes Mum," Harry mumbled lazily, already falling asleep, before a thought struck his mind and he once more opened his eyes. "Will I be aged up to sixteen tomorrow?" he asked anxiously.

"If your condition is well enough," Minerva replied, "or do you want to remain eleven for a while? I don't mind, sweetie; that's your decision.

"I'd like to be back to sixteen," Harry mumbled, lazily closing his eyes again.

However, in the middle of the night, Harry woke up feeling absolutely horrible. Not only his head and his eyes were sore but also his throat and he felt extremely hot and icy cold at once. He scrambled out of his bed and dragged himself over into Minerva's bedroom.

"Mum, I don't feel good," he mumbled, climbing up onto the bed, causing Minerva to wake up with a jolt.

"Harry, what's wrong?" she asked, pulling the child into her arms, frowning at the heat he radiated. "Oh my, you're hot, aren't you?"

"And cold," Harry whispered, causing the teacher to summon the snake thermometer. "Harry, let me quickly take your temperature, so that I know if it's bad enough to call Poppy," she told the shivering child, before she stuck the snake under his armpit and cuddled him close.

"Snaky," Harry whimpered with chattering teeth, shivering at the cold touch of the cold snake under his arm.

"I'll get you snaky," Minerva promised, summoning the stuffed snake from Harry's bed, gently holding it out for Harry, who immediately cuddled it close.

"40.8," Minerva read horrified and looked at her watch. '4:30, that's fairly early, but nevertheless I'm going to call Poppy,' she mused and headed to the fireplace to call her best friend.

Poppy calmly waved her wand at the sick child, before she tucked her wand away, pulling a potions phial out of her bag. "That's a flu bug, which is going around the castle at the moment. He'll have a fever of forty degrees for twenty-four hours, and then he'll be fine again. I already had twenty of these cases during the last two days. Give him a spoon full of this potion every four hours, and as soon as you notice that you're feeling unwell, you have to take it as well. The earlier you counter it, the less uncomfortable you'll be since I'm sure that you'll get it as well. Two days of bed rest in any case," she added sternly.

"What about you?" Minerva asked in concern.

"I should be immune against this bug," her friend replied sighing. "I'll come by to look after you later on."

Harry and Minerva remained the whole weekend in bed cuddling since Minerva became ill a few hours after Harry.

"I'm sorry, Mum, for getting you ill," Harry croaked, still feeling absolutely horrible.

"No problem, sweetie; the last time I got you ill, didn't I?" Minerva asked back hoarsely, nestling deeper under her covers.

HP HEALER POMFREY HP

Only on Friday morning, which was the last day of classes before the winter holidays, Harry's condition was so good that Minerva deemed him well enough to take the aging potion if he wanted. "Harry, do you want to attend classes, or would you prefer to take the aging potion this morning?" Minerva asked on their way down the stairs to the Great Hall.

"I don't know," Harry replied unsurely. 'I'd love to see Hermione; I haven't been able to speak with her since the Quidditch match,' he mused. "Can't I get the aging potion after classes?"

Minerva sighed. "At the moment, you don't have a fever, so that it would be possible, but I don't know how your condition will be after a full day of classes. I suggest that you take it now, and as soon as Poppy deems you well enough you can attend the remaining classes."

"All right," Harry replied, looking the Gryffindor table up and down in search for Hermione.

"Hermione is ill in case you're looking for her. She has the twenty-four-hours bug," Ginny informed him, smiling at the cute eleven year old, who looked extremely disappointed at the news.

HP HEALER POMFREY HP

After breakfast, Minerva accompanied him to the hospital wing, leading him to the last empty bed in the room, where he lay down, giving his guardian and the Mediwitch a frightened look.

"Oh sweetie, what's wrong?" Poppy asked softly. "This is not the first time, and you already know what's going to happen, don't you?"

"Yes, but this time it's five years," Harry replied in a small voice and closed his eyes, cuddling snaky close.

"Minerva, you better go," Poppy whispered. "This won't be pleasant. However, I'll give him a pain relieving potion and a strong sleeping draught at the same time, so that he won't be in pain or notice anything at all. Don't worry; he'll be right as rain when you come back after classes."

HP HEALER POMFREY HP

The next thing Harry knew was that his body felt as if he were back to sixteen and that it was already dark outside. His joints only ached slightly, but otherwise he felt well. He sat up and reached for his glasses.

"Harry, are you awake?" a voice from the bed next to him all of a sudden penetrated his ears and he saw Hermione come over to his own bed, sitting down next to him.

"Mione," Harry said amazed, pulling the girl into an embrace without even thinking about what he was doing. "Are you all right, Mione?" he asked in concern, noticing that the girl felt very hot to the touch and seemed to have a high fever.

"Well yes, I have this twenty-four hours bug; we have to be careful so that you won't get it from me," the girl replied, tiredly leaning into Harry's cool touch.

"It's all right; I already had it last weekend," Harry replied, cuddling her close. "Mione, um... I'm sorry about how I behaved when I was de-aged," he told the girl in a soft voice, while he gently wiped her flushed cheeks.

"It's all right, Harry. I enjoyed the time with your younger self a lot, although I sometimes missed your sixteen-year-old self. I'm glad to have you back," she added, pulling him into a kiss.

"Mione, um... Would you... um... would you perhaps be willing to be my girlfriend?" Harry asked hesitantly, averting his eyes to his hands.

"Of course I'd like to be your girlfriend, sweetie," Hermione replied softly, nestling closer into his strong arms.

With a huge smile Harry turned his eyes back to face the girl, noticing that she was shivering violently. "Let me warm you," he whispered, pulling her close and draping his covers over her, before he captured her mouth with his own for a long kiss.

"Let's lie down," he whispered, feeling his temperature rise at the contact with her heated body.

Hermione wearily obeyed, giving him a grateful smile when he gently tucked her in under the warm covers and once more cuddled her close.

"We'll be in so much trouble when your mother comes back after classes," Hermione croaked, kissing Harry passionately.

"How late is it? Classes? It's already dark outside," Harry replied in surprise. "I thought I couldn't stay here overnight."

"It's only two or three in the afternoon. A snowstorm is raging outside; that's why it is so dark," Hermione told him, "and Madam Pomfrey is in Ravenclaw for the afternoon since the whole Ravenclaw tower is ill."

"That's good," Harry mumbled in relief. "Then we have at least two hours."

The two friends spent the afternoon cuddling and kissing, warming each other without being disturbed by anyone.

"I wished Madam Pomfrey wouldn't release me tonight," Hermione suddenly spoke up, giving Harry a sad look.

"Why?" Harry asked incredulously. "Do you like it here? I don't think she'll release you seeing how hot you are." He gently laid a hand on the girl's forehead. "No, you feel much cooler now," he said astonished.

"I don't think that I'm cooler; the fever should last until tonight at least," the girl replied, worriedly feeling Harry's forehead. "You feel as hot as my own skin," she stated. "Are you feeling well?" She gave him a piercing look, noticing that his eyes were glazed over feverishly.

"As long as I'm in your arms, I feel completely well," Harry replied, noticing that his voice was fading into non existence. "Why don't you want to be released?" he enquired softly.

"Because I don't want to return home tomorrow; I wished I could stay with you over the holidays," Hermione replied hoarsely.

"Speak to my Mum; I'm sure she can arrange something, so that you can stay at Hogwarts or at home with me," Harry whispered, proceeding to kiss her again.

Suddenly, they heard the bell announcing the end of classes for the day.

"I better go back to my own bed," Hermione said softly, giving Harry a last passionate kiss, before she lay down in the bed next to her boyfriend.

Due to the loss of warmth, Harry began to shiver violently. He put his glasses away and nestled deeper into his covers when he heard his mother and her friend enter the room at the same time.

"How are you feeling, sweetie?" Minerva asked, sitting down on the edge of his bed.

"All right," Harry replied, throwing her a smile that didn't really reach his eyes, causing his mother to worriedly place a cool hand on his forehead.

"You're not all right at all," she stated, looking for Madam Pomfrey.

The Healer just pointed her wand at Hermione's head and said sternly, "Your fever is still exceeding forty degrees, and I won't be able to release you today. Therefore, I'm afraid you can't return home tomorrow since I need you to remain at least one more day for observation. Professor McGonagall will contact your parents accordingly."

"All right," Hermione replied, smiling, and talked to her Head of House about the option of remaining at Hogwarts over the holidays.

Madam Pomfrey came over to Harry, casting several diagnostic spells, before she frowned, looking at the boy in concern. "The effects of the aging potion seem to be gone, but I'm afraid you're coming down with something else. You're running a fever of 39 degrees. Minerva, I want to keep Harry here tonight for observation. I don't know if it's his normal eye problem or something else. Severus told me he has finally managed to brew a cure for Harry, but he still needs to test it during the holidays. He'll probably able to heal you in a few weeks, Harry."

"Oh, that's brilliant," Harry replied and obediently gulped down the fever reducer, before a huge smile spread on his face.

"Mum! Hermione agreed to become my girlfriend," he told the professor in a hoarse but excited voice. "I'm so happy!"

"Congratulations you two," Minerva replied, smiling. "I couldn't have wished for a nicer girlfriend for my son. I'm very happy too. Hermione, if you wish, you may spend the holidays at home with us."

"Thank you," Hermione croaked in delight and threw her boyfriend an overjoyed smile.

The End


Thanks to all those, who reviewed, for their support and encouragement. As you know, I'm not a native speaker of English; please excuse my mistakes or tell me, so that I can correct them.

All recognizable characters belong to Mrs. Rowling, and I am not earning anything by writing this story.