Magic to the Rescue
Lily sighed in exasperation as she watched her eight-year-old son Harry drift off to sleep. "What did Petunia do to you, sweetie?" she queried, more to herself than to the child as she gently smothered his covers, pulling them up to his chin.
The same morning, she had been released from hospital after a week's stay because she had once more caught pneumonia, and during the week, her sister Petunia had grudgingly taken Harry in, but from her son's extraordinarily sad and quiet behaviour Lily could only guess how her sister must have treated her baby. As she watched her son sleep, her thoughts once more returned to the past.
Seven years ago, after that fateful night at Halloween, when James had been killed and she and Harry had miraculously survived the ordeal, Lily had broken up with the magical world and completely retreated to the Muggle world. She had even taken on her old Muggle name again. She had given up everything except for her wand and the ability to apparate and had bought a small cottage for Harry and her in Ireland, glad her husband had left them several vaults full of gold, which she could easily access from her Muggle credit card, due to the helpfulness and understanding of the Goblins at Gringotts.
Harry didn't know anything about magic. Apparition together with his mother was a normal method of transportation for him, and he didn't know that none of his friends' parents were able to do so. He was also unaware of the fact that the fireplace in their cottage was connected to the British and Irish Floo networks. Lily had only used it once on the night they had moved into the cottage to inform her good friend and mentor, Minerva McGonagall, of her leaving the wizarding world.
"Lily, are you sure this is a wise decision?" Minerva had asked in concern. "Why don't you come to Hogwarts for a while, so we can all help you look after little Harry?"
"I can't," Lily had sobbed in desperation. "Everything at Hogwarts would remind me of them. First I lost Severus to Voldemort and now James. I can't bear being in the wizarding world anymore."
"If you ever need help, feel free to contact me," her mentor had reassured her, her normal gentle voice stricken with tears.
"Thank you, Minerva. I will," Lily had promised, burying the thought of having someone to rely on deep in her mind. After that conversation, she had never used the fireplace ever again.
When Harry was old enough to enter the nearby playschool, Lily had begun to write children stories – magical children stories and fairy tales, which she was selling to Flourish and Blotts in London, unbeknownst to Harry, who thought she was just writing them for his entertainment.
Unfortunately, Lily's health condition was not good at all. Since Harry's birth, she had developed asthma and several other chronic illnesses, and due to the combination of the asthma and the dark curse that had squarely hit her in the chest seven years ago, she was suffering from respiratory infects every now and then. 'I hope I'll be all right now after being ill for nearly four months,' she mused, remembering the fight she had had with the doctors in the hospital that morning. They hadn't wanted to release her yet, but she had insisted to leave, not able to bear the thought of her son being at her sister's house any longer.
After another loving look at her sleeping son, Lily quietly retreated to her own room, glad to be finally able to go back to bed. She threw a sad look at the two picture frames on her night table. 'Strange that Harry never wondered so far why the people in the photos are moving,' she mused as she watched James playfully dance in the snow throwing a hand kiss at her and Severus sit at his desk lovingly watching her from his obsidian eyes.
"I still love you both," she whispered as she lay down and drifted off into a much needed healing sleep.
Lily and Harry spent the whole weekend resting, cuddling, and talking about the week Harry had spent at the Dursleys.
"Mummy, I never want to go back there again," Harry said softly, and Lily noticed horrified that his emerald eyes were laced with tears.
"Please, tell me exactly what happened, sweetie," she replied, cuddling the child close as he told her they had called him freak, didn't allow him to sit at the table with them, and made him sleep in a cupboard.
"Harry, did they physically hurt you in any way?" Lily asked, getting alert by her son's explanations.
"Uncle Vernon hit me with his belt a few times," he hesitantly admitted only to quickly add, "But it didn't really hurt; it was all right."
"I won't let you go back there ever again, sweetie," Lily promised, remembering there was another place where she could ask for help in the worst case.
"And if you have to go back to the hospital?" Harry queried, fear clearly written on his small face.
"I won't," Lily promised, "I'll be fine."
On Monday morning, after Lily brought Harry to school, she obediently went to the doctor for her check-up, which she thought was completely unnecessary, knowing from experience that the bad cough she had developed during the last days was normal for a recovery from pneumonia.
However, "I'm afraid you'll have to go back to the hospital. Your lung doesn't sound good at all," the doctor said gently, causing Lily to refuse vehemently.
In the end, the doctor let her go home, but prescribed more antibiotics, making Lily inwardly groan at the thought that her stomach would be sore for another week, and told her to come back on Wednesday morning, causing Lily to sigh.
However, when she brought Harry to school on Tuesday, she noticed that she couldn't even walk a few steps without having the feeling to suffocate. 'Thank God he's at school for a few hours,' she mused as she lay down to rest for a while, only to notice she couldn't breathe at all. She proceeded to spend the next twenty-four hours sitting at her desk in the most comfortable chair in the house, trying to lie down and sleep every now and then in vain. She tried as well as possible to hide from Harry how bad she felt; however after a completely sleepless night, she knew she had never felt so bad before in her life.
In the morning, she dragged herself down to the car, gasping for air as she drove Harry to school. 'Thank God it's only a two-minute drive,' she mused as she parked the car in front of the doctor's house on her way back. After a whole morning of tests and examinations, she was told her lung function was down to thirty-five percent instead of the normal one hundred percent and she needed to take a cortisone spray for at least four weeks additionally to her normal asthma spray and the antibiotics.
'I need to think of a solution to all this. I can hardly drag myself to school to fetch Harry,' she mused, feverishly searching her sleep deprived mind for an idea. During the next two days, she tried to rest as much as possible in a sitting position. From time to time she had to get up to make something to eat for Harry; however, whenever the child wasn't in the kitchen with her, she proceeded to using her wand, cooking by magic for the first time in seven years in order not to aggravate her condition too much and to sit down again as soon as possible.
After two more sleepless nights, she slowly got the impression as if her asthma was getting better and she could breathe a bit easier. However, she still couldn't lie down due to the bad cough, and when she returned to the doctor for her appointment on Friday morning, she was once more told to go back to the hospital.
"Your lung sounds worse, and you're running a fever, which you shouldn't, considering the antibiotics you're taking," the doctor informed her, and Lily had to promise to obey if her condition hadn't improved until Monday morning.
Lily spent the whole weekend sitting in bed, still not able to lie down properly, but trying to rest to get her fever down, feeling very bad for Harry, who would have loved to go outside with her to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.
"I'm so sorry, sweetheart," she told him between two coughing fits, causing the boy to throw her a huge smile.
"You don't have to be sorry, Mum; it's not your fault you're sick. I just wished I could do something to help you. Shall I write to Aunt Petunia and ask her for help?" Harry asked, watching his mother in concern.
'We need to do something,' Lily thought wearily. 'My fever isn't coming down at all, and she'll definitely send me to the hospital tomorrow.' Seeing Harry observe her with a frightened expression on his face, she made a decision.
"I know what we're going to do," Lily whispered. "I need your help though." She scrambled out of her bed and led the child downstairs to the fireplace, reaching for the Floo powder.
"Now Harry," she explained hoarsely, "my voice is too hoarse to properly speak, so you'll need to do that for me."
"Okay, no problem," Harry replied, curiously watching his mother as she threw the Floo powder into the fireplace, turning the fire green. "Minerva McGonagall's office, Hogwarts," he intoned what Lily hastily scribbled on a piece of paper in front of them, flinching back in fright as an older lady appeared in the flames.
Seeing that Lily gave him a reassuring nod, he read from the paper, "Hello, I am Harry Evans. My mother is sick and she needs help."
"Harry!" the woman replied in obvious surprise. "Step back and I'll come over. What is your address?"
"123 Shannon Banks, Corbally," Harry replied in confusion as Lily gently tapped his hand, pointing to the piece of paper. "Oh, I'm sorry, it's 'The Evans' home, Corbally'," he quickly corrected himself.
A few seconds later, Minerva stepped through the fireplace, causing Harry to look at her in disbelief.
"Harry, do you remember Granny Minerva?" Lily croaked, causing the child to curiously shake his head.
"Hello Harry, I am Minerva," Minerva said gently, throwing Lily a concerned look.
Lily motioned her old teacher to take a seat on the sofa next to her and quietly filled her in about what had happened. "I'm afraid I'll have to go back to the hospital tomorrow, but I just can't leave Harry at Petunia's place anymore. Could you perhaps take him to Hogwarts with you?" she queried, finishing her explanation.
"Of course I'll do that, but I'm going to take you with me as well," Minerva replied firmly. "You look like a ghost, and I'm sure Poppy and Severus will be able to help you much better than any Muggle doctors."
"Severus?" Lily asked in surprise, suddenly feeling very excited. 'I'd love to see him again, and magic might be able to cure me much faster. I'm so sick of being ill, and I have been ill for so long,' she mused, feeling too weary to make such an important decision at the moment.
"Severus is our Potions professor and Slytherin Head of House. He is the youngest Potions Master our country has ever seen. Many years ago, he changed to our side and spied on the Dark side for Professor Dumbledore," Minerva explained gently, before she added thoughtfully, "Professor Flitwick would like to retire. He is only waiting for someone he approves, who would be able to take over his position. You could stay at Hogwarts with Harry. I'm sure it would be better for both of you."
"He doesn't know anything about magic yet," Lily replied hesitantly.
"Then we'll inform him about it," Minerva said firmly, letting out a gasp as she placed a hand on Lily's forehead. "Lily, you're in no condition to sit here discussing this. You can either come with us, or I'm going to send Poppy and Severus over to look after you. Please decide now. You don't have to do anything except for taking the Floo to my office. I'll take Harry with me, and you can stay in my guest rooms for the time being."
"Let's go with Granny Minerva, Mummy," Harry spoke up, gently raising a small hand to Lily's cheek.
"All right," Lily agreed, unable to think of any better plan.
"Oh no," Minerva suddenly said, throwing Lily a concerned look. "Travelling by Floo could only harm you more. We'll use my Emergency Portkey to the Hospital wing."
"Okay," Lily agreed, turning to Harry. "Harry, could you please go and fetch my medications and whatever you urgently want to take, maybe your teddy?"
"Only bring as much as you can carry, Harry. You and I will come back later to fetch your belongings," Minerva promised, causing Harry to nod and dart away, only to return a minute later with his mothers asthma sprays and medicine as well as a worn-out brown teddy.
"Oh, what a cute teddy," Minerva commended gently, "you'll have to show him to me when we're at Hogwarts, but first we have to go there so your mummy can get help." Worriedly glancing at Lily, she pulled Harry close and held his right hand against the ring on her left hand, motioning Lily to touch the ring as well.
"Harry, this is going to feel strange, a bit like Apparition," Lily whispered soothingly, right before they could feel a pull behind their navels and were whisked away.
'I swore to myself I'd never come back,' Lily mused, taking in the blazing sunshine flooding into the huge windows of the Hogwarts Hospital wing. 'But you had to return for Harry's and your own sake,' a small voice at the back of her mind spoke up, when all of a sudden a voice reached her ears. It was a voice that made a slight shiver run through her body, a voice she had believed to never hear again. 'Severus,' she thought, suddenly feeling a sting at the back of her eyes as tears of unbelievable joy and relief tried to enter her eyes.
Before she could show any reaction or even talk to Harry, who had slid his small, cold hand into her own, she felt herself being led to a bed. "Lie down," a soft, silky voice penetrated her foggy mind, automatically making her obey and sigh in relief as her head hit the pillow.
"What are you doing with that stick, sir?" Harry suddenly queried. "I've seen Mummy use such a stick in the kitchen before."
Lily scrambled into a sitting position, ready to throw her son a terrified look, when she felt herself being pushed back into the pillows.
"Remain quiet for a moment; otherwise I can't cast a diagnostic spell," Severus said impatiently, causing Lily to look into his face for the first time.
"Severus," she whispered as a huge smile spread over her face.
"I know you," Harry spoke up quietly. "You are the one in the picture frame on my mummy's night table."
Lily felt the heat creep into her face, but to her relief Severus used that instant to announce, "I have to go and brew the pneumonia potion as well as a stronger fever reducer for her. Minerva, would you mind staying here for a moment?"
"Of course not," Minerva replied, explaining to Lily, "Madam Pomfrey is at St. Mungo's over the weekend."
"May I help you?" Harry queried, trying to slide his hand into the unfriendly looking tall man's one.
"Harry often helps me in the kitchen," Lily whispered. "If you tell him what to do, he might be able to assist."
Seeing Minerva throw him a pointed look, Severus grudgingly agreed and hurriedly crossed the room towards the door, making Harry giggle at the sight of his billowing robes as he ran after him.
"I'm sorry, Lily; his bedside manners are horrible," Minerva said as she gently wiped Lily's flushed face with a cold cloth, "nevertheless, we can fully rely on him, and I'm sure he'll do what he can to help you and Harry. Now, why don't you try to sleep for a while?"
"All right," Lily agreed, suddenly feeling very relaxed, knowing that Harry was in good hands. Seconds later, she drifted off to sleep.
Harry had to run to keep up with the tall man's pace. He followed him through long corridors, down several stairs and finally crossed a room looking like a huge living room, before they entered a very bright room. One side of the room consisted of a huge window, the next, smaller side, held several sinks, and the two other walls were covered with shelves containing lots of phials of several sizes, forms and colour as well as a huge number of cauldrons. Two huge tables filled the centre of the room. 'Where are we?' Harry mused in confusion. 'It looks like a kitchen, but there is no place to cook and no fridge.'
Severus motioned him to sit on a chair and put two black cauldrons on the table in front of him, before he busied himself fetching several strange looking ingredients, a knife and something that looked like a wooden spoon but didn't seem to be made from wood. Harry observed the man's doing with interest.
"Cut these in small stripes like this," Severus finally turned to Harry as he placed something that looked like leaves in front of him and showed him what he was supposed to do.
"All right," Harry agreed, glad that he was able to help, and cut the leaves exactly like the man had told him.
When he was finished, Severus put the pieces aside and gave him something to chop. Again, he showed him exactly what he had to do, and Harry did his best not to disappoint the man, feeling very proud to be able to help cooking medicine for his Mummy.
In the meantime, Severus started both cauldrons and had just begun to insert the first ingredients into the left cauldron when Harry finished chopping the roots in front of him. 'So I'm supposed to put my things in the right pot,' he thought and set to carefully insert the roots.
"What do you think you're doing?" Severus hissed, quickly diverting Harry's arm from the cauldron, before any of the roots could land in the cauldron.
"I'm sorry, sir," Harry stammered, trying not to panic at the man's angry expression. "I thought..." He slowly trailed off, throwing the man an apologizing look.
'He doesn't know; he can't know, and he is Lily's son. So far, he seemed to be very adept at preparing the ingredients,' Severus mused, trying hard to keep his temper. "Brewing potions is very difficult, and the timing of inserting ingredients is essential," he hurried to explain. "Here," he pointed to the peppermint leaves, "cut these leaves just like the other leaves you prepared earlier."
"Yes sir," Harry replied as an expression of apparent relief settled on his face. During the next two hours, he diligently prepared the ingredients Severus thrust at him.
Severus found that he was slowly beginning to relax, something he normally was only able to do when he was on his own. The presence of any other human being usually made him upset in some way, and he was surprised to notice that he didn't mind the child's company at all. The boy meticulously did what he was told, he seemed to be as adept at preparing the ingredients as his mother had always been at Potions, and he only spoke when Severus addressed him.
"That's all. Thank you. Sit back and watch. This one will be finished in seven minutes, the other in thirteen," he told the child as he carefully inserted the birch bark Harry had just chopped for him.
Harry watched in obvious amazement as Severus magically bottled the potions and labelled the phials. "Thank you for letting me help, sir," he said softly.
"You did that very well." Severus couldn't believe the words that had automatically left his mouth as he glanced into the child's emerald eyes.
Together, they left Severus' private potions lab and headed back to the hospital wing. As he pushed the doors open, he saw that Lily seemed to be fast asleep, while Minerva and Albus were quietly talking at her side. 'What is the meddling old coot doing here?' he thought in annoyance, when he suddenly felt a small, warm hand being slid into his own. Glancing down in disbelief he found two large, emerald eyes looking straight into his onyx eyes. Giving the child a comforting nod, he continued to cross the room towards Poppy's office to set the batches of potions down that were floating in front of them.
"Hello Harry," Dumbledore said gently as they approached Lily's bed.
"Hello," Harry said in a small voice, apparently trying to hide in Severus' robes.
"This is Professor Dumbledore, the Headmaster," Severus found himself say in a soft voice, causing the boy to slowly step next to him, still holding on to Severus' hand.
"Harry, as you probably know, your mother is ill and needs to stay here in the hospital wing for at least a week," Dumbledore once more addressed the child. "Since the holidays have not begun yet, there will be many students here as well, so it wouldn't be good for you to stay in the hospital wing the whole time. Therefore, I suggest that you live with one of us, until your mother is well enough to move to your own quarters, which I'm going to prepare during the next few days."
"May I stay with Severus, please?" Harry mumbled in a hardly audible voice, hesitantly turning his emerald eyes upwards.
Severus found himself nearly chocking at the child's request. "Why does he even know my name?" he mused in total disbelief, unaware of the fact that he had thought aloud.
"As I said, Mummy has a photo of you on her night table, and she often talks with you, although you only look back at her, and the only thing you say is, "I love you too, Lily."
'Oh God, let me die, here, now, this instant,' Severus groaned inwardly as he felt his face heat up.
"I believe that's a very good idea, Harry, Severus," Minerva said warmly, throwing the child a comforting smile.
The Headmaster laughed. "Well, my boy, as funny as this is, I believe that we should consider Lily's thoughts in this matter."
Minerva rolled her eyes. "I am sure, and I'm willing to make a bet with you that Lily agrees to Harry's request to stay with Severus in the blink of an eye."
"Very well then, I agree. Let's bet about a self-refilling box of chocolate frogs for Harry," Dumbledore replied, and his eyes begin to twinkle merrily as he turned to Severus.
"Thank you so much, my boy, for agreeing to take Harry in for the moment. How long do you believe it'll take, until Lily will be back to full health?"
Severus huffed in annoyance. "First of all, I didn't agree to anything, and I won't do such a thing without hearing Lily's opinion. Secondly, I can imagine that it might take up to two weeks, before Lily will be able to look after herself and the child."
"I'm already a big boy, and I'm able to look after Mummy," Harry spoke up in a small voice.
"That you are, my boy," the Headmaster replied thoughtfully as Severus released Harry's hand and stepped over to Lily, who was just waking up.
Turning into Healer's mode, Severus waved his wand over his former best friend, before he gently helped her to sit up and drink her potions, noticing in relief that she contentedly sighed as she felt the effects kick in.
"Lily, Harry has chosen to stay with Severus, while you're in the hospital wing," Minerva softly informed her. "Will that be all right with you, or would you prefer he remained with Albus or me?"
"If Harry chose Severus, and Severus is all right with it, I don't mind of course," Lily replied in confusion, slowly turning her eyes to the Slytherin.
"I don't think I'm the right person to look after a child, but if you insist, he may stay with me. I'll take him with me to class then. He already proved to be a good assistant."
Lily laughed, noticing that Minerva and Albus were nearly chocking at Severus' words. "Harry, you must be incredibly gifted at Potions," Albus informed the child, smirking. "You need to know that Severus never, ever commends anyone, let alone a student."
"Thank you, Severus," Harry said softly and climbed onto his mother's bed, while Severus lightly inclined his head and took the seat the Headmaster had just vacated.
"Thank you, my boy," Dumbledore said with an amused twinkle in his eyes. "I shall prepare the self-refilling chocolate frog box for my lost bet, and I'll ask the house-elves to provide a room for Harry in your quarters." With that, he left the room together with Minerva, who promised to come back and take turns with Severus in a few hours.
"Thank you, Severus," Lily whispered, slowly reaching for his cold hand. "I'm glad you're here."
Severus leaned over, gently enveloping her hot hand with his slender fingers. "I'm glad you're here, too. Get well soon. Harry needs you."
"Are you sure you don't mind looking after him while I'm stuck here?" Lily queried softly.
"He is a good child, and I don't mind him being there," Severus replied softly, remembering how pleasant it had been to brew together with him as he observed the boy nestle deep into his mother's bed covers and drift off to sleep.
Epilogue – Thirty months later...
"Mum, Dad, are you sure you don't mind where I'm going to get sorted?" Harry queried, throwing his parents an anxious look.
"Oh, Mr. Evans-Snape, I'm going to kill you if you end up anywhere but Slytherin," Severus smirked, raising an eyebrow at the eleven-year-old he had adopted right after his marriage with Lily five weeks ago.
"Well, as you know I was in Gryffindor, but in fact, the Sorting Hat had originally suggested putting me into Ravenclaw," Lily confessed, laughing at her son's surprised expression.
"Is it possible to tell the Hat what I want?" he queried in disbelief, causing his parents to laugh.
"I heard that for the first time," Severus replied softly, throwing Lily a questioning glance.
"It's true." She shrugged. "Well, I think we should go to the station, so Harry won't miss the other first-years in time for the boat-ride."
'Hmm, what am I going to do?' Harry mused as they walked down to Hogsmeade. 'Mum was in Gryffindor and Dad in Slytherin, but on the other hand, Mummy is only the Charms teacher, while Dad is not only the Potions professor but the Head of Slytherin, too.'
Two hours later, the Sorting Hat finished his two-minute discussion with Harry and shouted, "Slytherin," causing Lily and Severus to exchange an amused look and watch from the Head table as their son crossed the Great Hall with a huge smile on his face.
"Little snake," Severus mumbled fondly, only for Lily to hear.
'I'm glad we came to Hogwarts at that time,' Lily mused while the Sorting continued. She was still suffering from her weak immune system and often came down with lung infections; however, Severus was taking good care of her and Harry, and his potions always made her recover before it became really bad. 'Magic is the best that could happen to me; magic and my two big boys,' she realised, happily squeezing Severus' hand under the table.
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.