Summary: The gloomy cupboard suddenly alit wondrously; the ceiling transformed into a night blue canvas and decorated across it were two shinning stars, making up the two brilliant eyes of a deer.

Challenge Response: Sick Little Harry by Jan_AQ

I highly recommend the Severitus fic; Letters: The Year With the Stone which you can find right here on . In this fic, Dudley also receives a letter to Hogwarts and Harry is Slytherin.

a/n: bittersweet.

Stars that Make Up the Night Sky

By

Hpfanficfan

Am I dying? Seven year old Harry lay in his dark, lonely cupboard, wondering silently.

He felt horrible – like he hadn't eaten in days, and weeded the entire garden, and had been chased and beaten up by Dudely and his gang. His muscles and bones felt like puddles of goo and everything else was made of lead. Harry found that he couldn't lift his head without feeling nauseous.

He was too tired to move, too tired to do anything but lay there, curled up as still as a rock. Harry wrapped his hands around the edge of the blanket and he burrowed his head into the pillow. As miserable as he was, he dare not make any sound, fearing that his aunt or uncle would hear.

Don't be stupid. You're not gonna die. Aunt Petunia even gave you some medicine just a few hours ago.

But Harry felt like he was sicker than ever. His head throbbed, his stomach ached, his eyes burned and his heart beat hard and fast. His throat hurt, his nose was stuffed up and he couldn't get warm.

When Dudley was sick with fever, Aunt Petunia spend the entire night sitting by his bed, feeding him water and wiping the sweat from his forehead. When Dudley woke, whining and crying in the middle of the night, Aunt Petunia dragged Harry out of his cupboard to heat him some chicken soup. Then she held Dudley said in a kind and gentle voice; "There, there, my sweet boy. Go to sleep now and everything will be better in the morning."

Harry missed his mom and dad.

People who die would turn into stars and constellations. And they point the way for their loved ones, guiding them down the right path when they were lost or providing a night-light when they were afraid.

He read that in a book when his teacher took the class to the library last week. Harry believed it right there and then that his parents were stars, somewhere in the vast sky. But Harry could not see the stars from inside of his cupboard. Though he wished he could. And as nice as all that was, Harry also wished that they weren't stars, but real, live people. That way, they could come and take him away instead of just looking at him from all the way up there.

Stop dreaming and go to sleep, Harry told himself.Which was ironic, because when one slept, one dreamed; and dreams of the night were not always good.

Then, out of nowhere the cupboard door creaked open and Harry stiffened. Was it his uncle? He was very careful not to make any sounds.

"Damn! What a mess," a man's voice swore.

Harry knew immediately that the voice did not belong to Uncle Vernon. In fact the voice did not belong to anyone he knew. Who's there? Harry wondered. Warily, he opened his heavy eyes too look at whoever it was that had opened his cupboard door.

Without his glasses and in the dim light, Harry could only make out a dark silhouette; a tall man in black towered over him. Harry cowered when the man leaned down so that his face was only inches away.

Harry's head kept buzzing.

What's going on?

Dark black pupils met Harry's gaze. The eyes looked mysterious, like long tunnels in the mountain and as black as a sculpture in ebony.

"I don't have money." Harry struggled to sit up and backed away, thinking the intruder was a burglar.

"Lie still and do not move," the man ordered. His hand reached out and Harry squeezed his eyes shut, but the hand did not hurt him. Instead, it pressed against his forehead.

The touch felt so kind. Immediately, Harry leaned into it and sighed.

The man swore again before removing his hand.

Harry opened his eyes again and saw the man searching through a bag. Harry blinked…was it just him or was his little cupboard was somehow bigger. Well, at least now it was big enough to fit two people. Or maybe it was him that had become smaller? He couldn't be sure.

"Who are you?" Harry croaked.

The man raised his head to look at him and said, "That is not for you to know."

"But…" Harry began, but upon the warning glare thrown his way, quieted quickly.

"You may call me professor."

Harry opened his mouth again but the man was faster.

"You are sick; I am here to make sure it does not progress to a state that would require hospitalization."

"Oh…you're going to make me better?"

"Yes."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"What are you doing?"

The man sighed and stopped searching through his bag to look at him.

"Sorry," Harry apologized, getting the message loud and clear.

The man shook his head and went back to his bag. After a minute, he stopped and pulled something out.

00oo00oo00

Snape arrived at #4, Privet Drive and helped himself inside with a simple alohomora.

The wizard then cast a lumos charm and immediately located Harry's cupboard like he had done numerous times before. He shook his head in disgust. This was something he could not get use to no matter how many times he's had to deal with it.

What kind of people locked a child inside of a cupboard? It was very disturbing; like one of those Muggle stories of people who locked their daughters or kidnapped children in the basement, chained and caged like an animal. This was not so different. At least, Snape comforted himself in knowing, the boy saw the light of day. In reality, that was little comfort and Snape had a hard time convincing himself that Harry was fine. There was nothing remotely find behind the doors of #4 Privet Drive.

But there was nothing that could be done.

Snape flipped open the lock, kneeled down and peered inside. He was still amazed at how miniscule the place was. How could anyone live inside a space the size of an average bathtub?

When Snape saw the boy laying rolled into a ball, with only a blanket covering the shivering frame, he swore. Despite the number of times Snape has visited Harry, he'd always be shocked at the state the child was in. Those sorry excuses for human beings!

Snape leaned down to inspect the child and shook his head as he noted the sweating, pale face. The boy looked at him and for a few seconds their eyes locked together. Eyes - colour ominously similar to the killing curse that took the lives of the boy's mother and father – looked back at him. Eyes of emerald green, just like Lily's. Snape never got used to those eyes.

"I don't have money," the boy whimpered as he attempted to back away.

"Stay still and do not move," Snape ordered as he reached out his hand and pressed it against the boy's scarred forehead, it burned. "Damn it! Useless Muggles."

The child was very sick. He cursed the Dusley's heartlessness and blind stupidity. Didn't they know that a child as young and fragile as Harry, could die this way? Snape knew they weren't ignorant, they just didn't care.

Without further ado, he reached into his bag and began looking for the potions he needed.

"Who are you?" the boy asked, his voice small and weak.

Snape looked over. "That is not for you to know," he answered.

"But…" Harry began to protest.

Snape sighed with exasperation. "You may call me professor," he relents, hoping that the answer would curb the boy's curiosity. But the child opened his mouth again, probably to ask something completely dim-witted like; "You are a teacher?" So he spoke again before the boy could get a single word out.

"You are sick; I am here to make sure it does not progress to a state that would require hospitalization."

The boy blinked owlishly at him and tilted his head.

"Oh…does that mean you're going to make me better?"

Snape rolled his eyes. Was he not speaking plain English?

"Yes."

"Really?"

"Yes."

"What are you doing?"

Snape groaned and stopped searching through his bag, turning to glare at the boy. Good you should be, now be silent, was his silent message.

"Sorry."

Snape shook his head and resumed his search. He brought a varied collection of potions with him, it always paid to be resourceful.

Ah, there they were, the potions he was looking for; a fever reducer, a flu-be-gone syrup and pain killer. He took out the first one, the fever reducer.

00oo00oo00

In the man's hand was a small bottle, long and thin. Swirling around the inside was a strange mellow liquid.

"What's that?" Harry asked, squinting his eyes at the yellow water.

"Medicine," the man said shortly. "Now drink."

Before Harry knew what was happening, the medicine was being dipped down his throat. Harry swallowed with a grimace.

He groaned as he pushed the potion away, "That's bad."

The man frowned and pressed the bottle to Harry's lip one more.

"Finish it."

Harry tried to turn his head away, but the man held firmly to the back of his head.

"It will make you feel better."

"No it won't."

"Yes, it well."

"How do you know?"

"I am an adult that is why. In addition, I brewed this potion myself. Therefore, I know of its properties and effects."

"It will make the hurt go away?" Harry asked groggily.

"Yes, it will make the hurt go away."

Harry wrinkled up his face and bravely swallowed the rest of the vile potion.

"Ew…"

"Good boy," the man commended.

Harry's mouth hung open in shock.

Good boy?

He didn't notice the man reach over and grab another bottle of medicine.

"Now, one more…" the man said and something pressed against his lips again.

Harry blinked and lowered his eyes to look the bottle, this one was filled half way with red liquid. He scrunched up his face and let the man tip the medicine down his throat. Harry was fully prepared himself for the horrible taste this time. It didn't help. If possible, this one was even worse than the first.

"Alright," said the man. "Just one more, good boy."

Good boy.

The last bottle was filled with black syrup. Harry knew that it must be the worst yet, just by looking at it. Unlike the others, this one looked thick and gooey.

He was right, the black medicine tasted like ginger, vinegar and castor oil thrown into a blender and pureed with coffee grinds.

Harry had a hard time swallowing it

00oo00oo00

With the potion half way down Harry's throat, the boy began to resist and tried to push Snape's hand away. But Snape did not let up, he stroked the child's throat and continued to pour the potion into Harry's mouth until the entire vial was empty. Harry choked and gagged on the vile taste,

"Good boy," he said one last time, knowing that it mean a lot to the child.

Harry unwillingly let out a sob and some tears leaked from his eyes before he quickly blinked them away.

At last, Snape drew out one final bottle and held it out for Harry.

"It's just water."

00oo00oo00

The medicine tasted horrific, but just like the man promised, the aches in his muscles went away, his head no longer hurt and he didn't felt like throwing up anymore. All he felt now was really, really sleepy. He didn't want to sleep, not yet when here was someone who was so nice to him. The man had called him a good boy…if only this was not a dream…

"Really?" Harry asked.

"Really what?"

"Do you mean it? That I'm a good boy?"

The man's brows were knitted together and he looked upset, but sad rather than angry.

"Yes, Harry, you are a good boy and very brave."

Harry smiled sleeply.

"Yeah?"

"Yes."

00oo00oo00

Snape lowered Harry back down. His hands, which were on Harry's back, could feel the bones protruding from the back of the shoulder. The boy was too thin.

"Bloody Muggles, don't they feed you at all?" Snape swore beneath his breath.

"Professor," the child's voice dragged, his eyes drooping.

"What is it?"Snape answered with a grimace.

"You're really nice."

",,,"

Snape was left speechless and more than a little irked. You're wrong, Potter. I am not a kind person.

"I'm glad you can and see me."

"…"

"Would you hold me? Just for a little bit?" The voice was so small, and the boy looked as fragile and helpless as a newborn chick and a sick one at that. "Please?"

Snape thinned his lips. He could not find anything to say, and listened to his own heart as it beat and his own breath as his lungs went in and out. In the small cupboard, Harry's plea echoed.

Some time passed, Harry did not move at all and seemed to be almost asleep. Snape took in a deep breath and sighed. He bent over and pulled Harry, along with the blanked into his arms.

Harry suddenly opened his eyes and said, "Thank you, sir."

Snape nearly jumped, taken by surprise.

"I wish my mom and dad were here," Harry muttered softly, half conscious.

"I know," Snape said. Children talk too much. Just go to sleep, Potter.

"I wish I could see them," Harry said, his voice full of longing and desire.

"I know," Snape answered sombrely. I miss her too.

"You know what I read at the library?"

"What?"

"I read that when people die, they turn into stars. And every star in the sky is somebody's somebody…"

"Is that so?"

"Yeah…my parents are up there right? My mom and dad? Do you know them? Do you know which ones they are?"

Snape frowns for a moment as he studied Harry. He seems to ponder his answer, unsure of what to say. You are gullible, Potter. When people die, they go away forever.

After a long pause, he answered, "Yes, see for yourself."

The gloomy cupboard suddenly alit wondrously; the ceiling transformed into a night blue canvas and decorated upon it were two shinning stars, making up the two brilliant eyes of a deer.

Harry looked wondrously at the sight above him, enchanted and not believing his eyes. Yes, this is a very nice dream. "Wow," he said delighted

The stars cast a reflection in Harry's green eyes, and slowly and quietly, they faded away. The cupboard was dark once more.

Harry blinked his eyes, they widened as the boy searched for the stars that were no longer there. He did not want them to go away, he did not want to forget how pretty they looked. He starred at the spot where they starry eyes once were, but there was nothing, nothing there at all but black.

Gradually, Harry's eyes drooped in disappointment, there was a sadness in them that made Snape look away.

Harry closed his eyes, held them shut and thought nothing but of the pretty stars. He had to remember them.

Snape held Harry and observed him carefully until he was convinced the boy was asleep. He gently put Harry back into the cot, and tucked the thin arms under the raggedy covers.

Quietly, Snape back out of the cupboard. He knelt at the entrance for some time, watching Harry sleep peacefully. He muttered a charm and "Obliviate," was last word Snape spoke before he disappeared from the home of Vernon and Petunia Dursley. Leaving behind only an unseen gift and a fading warmth, that were the sole evidence that he had been there at all.

00oo0oo00

Harry would be fine, because whenever he was sick or hurt, he'd always feel better after a good night's sleep. Years later, Harry believed that it was magic that healed him, the same kind of magic that made his hair grow back when Aunt Petunai cut it. And it was magic; it was the magic of Severus Snape.

Harry's belief in the legend never faded either, because his glow-in-the-dark stars never ever dimmed since that night when he dreamed of a man in black.

The End.