Childish Friends by Healer Pomfrey

I didn't intend to reply to my own writing challenge for February, and only by chance it came out as matching for my challenge. I wrote this for a friend and posted it to my livejournal a few days ago. Well, since I don't have anything else to post today, I thought maybe some of you might enjoy this story, so I'm posting it here as well. I'm not a native speaker of English. Please excuse my mistakes or help me to correct them.

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

Severus turned around, craving the warmth of his bed covers after sensing the cold of the dungeons with his left foot that had accidentally moved into the wrong direction, losing the comfortable silky touch of his covers for an instant. He groaned as he noticed the dull ache he had felt behind his temples had turned into a splitting headache and the slightly uncomfortable sensation in his mouth had intensified, causing his whole mouth and throat to be on fire. His ears felt as if they had grown to the size of two Bludgers.

'I haven't felt so bad since the last Death Eater meeting I had to attend,' he thought, wondering what could dare to ail him in the middle of the much needed winter holidays. 'And today is Christmas Day. Albus is going to kill me if I don't attend Christmas breakfast,' he realized, slowly opening his achy eyes to glance at his alarm clock.

On their way to the most annoying thing he possessed that showed him breakfast had already begun his eyes fell on a present. 'That doesn't look like chocolate frogs or socks. It looks like a bottle,' he mused, pondering what Albus could have given him this year.

He wearily sat up and swung his feet over the edge of his bed, noticing that he felt absolutely dizzy. Pointing his wand at the present, he made the colourful wrapping paper vanish, revealing a bottle. 'Finest Old Scottish Whiskey,' he read in disbelief. 'Albus should know that I don't drink at all,' he thought, annoyed, when a small voice at the back of his mind spoke up, 'He should have known better than to give you red and yellow socks last year.'

Severus sighed as he took the bottle into his hands. 'Maybe this will help clear my head,' he pondered, knowing from the evening before that his strongest headache potion did not work. He slowly raised his body into a vertical position, clinging to the night table until the speed in which the room turned around slowed down a bit, and dragged himself into the living room, heading for his comfortable arm chair.

On his way, he opened the bottle and sniffed at it, summoning a glass from behind the bookshelf at the same time. Unfortunately, walking and casting a wandless spell at the same time seemed to have overexerted his condition and the dizziness returned full force, causing him to sway and stumble to the ground, while the open bottle emptied most of its contents over the floor and nearby chair.

Feeling too weak to cast a Scourgify spell, Severus flapped onto the chair, reached for the glass, and poured the remaining drops of whiskey in, gulping the cold liquid in one large gulp. Only when he replaced the empty glass on the table did he notice that the flames in his mouth and throat had worsened to a huge fire. Each swallow was as painful as an attempt to breathe, and Severus shivered violently as he felt the coldness of the dungeons touch his body, which seemed to be completely on fire now.

He leaned back in his seat in a vague attempt to pull himself together, knowing that he had to attend breakfast if he didn't want the Headmaster with his twinkling blue eyes to come and hunt him down. He lazily waved his wand at himself, exchanging his pyjamas with his usual school outfit, and tossed the empty bottle into the bin, just when Albus let himself into his quarters.

"Ah, Severus, my boy," the Headmaster greeted him gently, following the empty bottle with his eyes.

"Good morning, Albus," Severus replied, noticing horrified that the alcohol in combination with whatever illness he seemed to have contracted made his voice sound as if he was drunken. 'He must assume I drank the whole bottle,' he thought, terrified, and tried to explain what had happened. However, he couldn't get any proper words out of his mouth. Whatever he said came out like a lull.

"Severus, I am very sorry, but I came to fetch you for an urgent staff meeting, which is going to take place in the staff room right now," the Headmaster explained gently. "Unfortunately, I must be adamant that you attend. Do you have a potion, which I could get for you?"

"No," Severus managed to get out clearly and slowly rose from his seat, holding on to the back of his chair in a vague attempt to overcome the dizziness.

"Let me help you, my boy," Albus said softly, putting his arm around Severus' back to steady him all the way up to the staffroom, where Severus let himself sink on an empty chair next to Minerva as gracefully as he could manage, unaware of his colleagues' curious looks that followed his every move.

"Please stop looking at Severus. I got to him when he just emptied the bottle I gave him for Christmas, and he'll have had his reasons for drinking, so don't pester him about it," Albus explained, and only the faint understanding that his mentor merely wanted to help him getting rid of all the glares he felt now pointed at him kept him from killing the Headmaster on the spot.

"A whole bottle?" Pomona queried with an unbelieving expression.

"I would already be dead," Filius spoke up in his high childlike voice.

"Could we perhaps come to the point?" Minerva asked, sounding very impatient.

Severus eyed her curiously. 'She looks ill under her glamour charm,' he mused, knowing that his colleague had no idea he could see behind concealment charms.

"Severus, don't you have a sobering potion in your stock?" Rolanda enquired, obviously trying to hide a chuckle behind a cough.

"I'm sorry for looking at you, Severus, but it's so rare to see anything but a blank mask in your face," Remus had the gull to add.

"I am not drunken, I merely slipped," Severus began to explain, but noticing that the words still came out in a hoarse and not understandable lull, making his sore throat flare in pain, he quieted and leaned back in his seat, defensively crossing his arms in front of his chest.

"Oh my," Minerva let out, lightly shaking her head at his sight.

'If I look at Poppy, she'll know by a glance into my eyes that I'm ill and not drunken and can explain it to the others,' he mused. 'On the other hand, it'll be worse to be dragged to the hospital wing than to wait this stupid meeting out and return to the quiet of my quarters,' he decided and proceeded to fix his eyes on the steaming cauldron on his mug that somehow seemed to have appeared in front of him.

He absentmindedly listened as Minerva shortly explained Harry had received a broom from an unknown sender. She asked several people to check the broom for her golden boy, assuming that it could have been sent by Sirius Black to harm the saviour of the magical world.

Severus sighed in relief as the topic seemed to be over and summoned his energy for the strenuous way back to his quarters, when Albus explained there was a second pressing topic and gave Poppy the floor.

"Hagrid has taken ill with the Grindylow pox, which is a rare magical illness that can become dangerous if not treated early enough. Since you were all together with him at mealtimes and our daily staff meetings, I want to cast a quick diagnostic spell on each of you," the Mediwitch explained shortly.

Ignoring the groans, mainly coming from Minerva and Severus, she began to cast two spells at Rolanda, who was sitting at the opposite side of the table. "All right, you may go," she told the flying instructor and continued with Pomona.

A few minutes later, she released Filius and pointed her wand at Severus.

"I'm sorry, Poppy, could you continue with me, please? I'm in a hurry," Albus suddenly spoke up, causing the Mediwitch to wave her wand at the Headmaster first.

"You may leave," she said, already turning to Minerva. When she cast the diagnostic spell, the tip of her wand didn't flare green as in all the other cases but red. Frowning, Poppy pointed her wand at her colleague's head to take her temperature. Sighing in exasperation, she waved her wand a third time, cancelling the concealment charm. "Minerva, you are very ill with the Grindylow pox. Did you not notice that you're running a fever?"

Minerva mumbled something incoherent, and the Mediwitch instructed her to stay put for a moment as she waved her wand over Severus, realizing that he was as ill as his colleague. "Did you try to cure your illness by getting drunk?" Poppy queried with an angry expression on her face. "Congratulations, you managed to worsen your condition. Your fever is even higher than Minerva's. Well, I'm going to take both of you to the hospital wing." With that, she conjured two stretchers, onto which she levitated her most stubborn colleagues, knowing that they were too ill to protest.


Knowing how much the small pox inside their mouths, throats, and even ears must hurt, Poppy kept the two colleagues asleep for two days, before she allowed them to slowly wake up.

"I did not drink. I merely swayed when I was carrying the open bottle, so everything spilled on the floor. Afterwards I only had a small sip, hoping it would clear my head, because the headache potion didn't work," was the first thing Severus remembered to explain indignantly as his mind turned to consciousness and he saw Poppy standing next to his bed.

"How stupid do you think I am? I knew that you weren't drunk, but I didn't want to take the fun from the others," Minerva croaked from the bed next to him.

"I knew that you had placed concealment charms on yourself. Even if I couldn't see through them, I'd have noticed when you kept your explanation about poor Potter and the need to have his new broom to outshine all the other students as soon as possible so short. If your throat hadn't been too sore to speak, we would still be listening to your ramblings about the poor boy," Severus gave back.

"I know one of the effects of the Grindylow pox is that it makes people act childishly, but you're by far the worst patients I ever had," Poppy said in exasperation, seeing that Minerva uncharacteristically stuck out her tongue to Severus. "Oh well, at least you're in good company. Feel free to entertain yourselves; I'll be back in a few hours to check on you. The doors are locked by the way," she added, looking at her patients, who were just performing a silent glaring contest. Seeing that bright sunlight streamed into the room, she opened one of the windows as she made her way back into her private quarters.

When Poppy returned to the hospital wing at lunchtime, pondering if her two patients had already managed to kill each other, the room was completely empty.

Unbeknownst to the Mediwitch, on a tree next to the lake, a tabby cat and a falcon were resting peacefully next to each other, enjoying the warm rays of sun caressing their bodies. From time to time, the cat painfully put a paw to her neck, where the falcon had gripped her with his beak as he flew out of the hospital wing, gently carrying her out to the tree.

The End

Did you like my little story? If so, please tell me which part you liked most. I'm asking because the opions of my livejournal friends differed on that point ;-)