Hi guys - this is NOT a sequel to Buried Alive (unfortunately), that one is still in the planning stages - but I've been trying to get all my old half-written fics finished, so here is a new one in response to a challenge on Potions & Snitches. It has been sat on my desktop for months so I'm very happen to have finished it now. It is a two-shot, so you won't have to wait long for the ending as it's already written. Happy Reading.
His body shivered.
He'd expected the pain in his hand, but everywhere? After his detention with Umbridge he'd gone straight to bed, barely noticing Ron's worried eyes watching him in the dark. The blood quill was the norm now, but every day he was simply opening the same wounds over and over again, and the pain grew with each detention. The words I must not tell lies were barely readable anymore, each letter knitting together with the next. His hand ached like it could drop off any second and he let it flop heavily into his lap. He'd noticed the swelling days ago, but only now had he realised its severity. He tried to straighten his clawed fist and flatten it on the bed, but he couldn't move his thumb for the swelling.
It was horrible. He didn't like to look at it; its message frustrated him to the point of anger – even to the point of lashing out at his friends.
Hermione, this is anything but simple, he'd said, and he knew that since then they were watching over him. But he couldn't just tell somebody like they'd wanted him to because who was there to tell? Umbridge was backed by the Ministry, and the Ministry was full of pencil-pushers and hypocrites that couldn't see as far as their own feet. He'd have been expelled (and probably more) long before anything was done about Umbridge.
With an almighty heave, his feet were on the ground and he was finally out of bed, smiling a little at this small victory, but his triumph was short-lived as, much to his disgust, he noticed that the back of his hand had started to weep. The colour made his stomach lurch. Searching quickly through his bedside drawers, he finally came across a box of ordinary muggle plasters. Shaking them out onto his bed, he took one of the largest ones and tested it for size against his poorly hand.
Not big enough, he thought with a groan, the padding won't cover it, but the yellow mess he could feel eating away at his skin was getting too much and all he wanted to do was hide it and pretend it didn't exist.
He checked under his bed and in his trunk to see if he had any bandages instead, but he found nothing.
I can't go around with it like this; it was hard enough hiding it before.
His eyes flickered back to the plaster that was now strewn on his bedside table.
Anything is better than nothing...
With a despairing sigh, he hastily picked up the plaster, tearing off the backing paper and covering his hand as best he could. Some of the sticky bit stuck to his cuts, but he certainly didn't want to have to peel it off and try again. Though it still hurt, he couldn't help but feel relieved when he realised he didn't have to see it anymore.
At that moment, Ron stepped out of the bathroom. "Alright mate?"
"Yeah, fine," he croaked back, stepping in front of the packet of plasters spread over his duvet.
"I'm starvin'. Reckon I'll go get breakfast now. Meet you downstairs in a bit?" Ron said, but his expression suddenly twisted into a look of concern – one Harry was quickly growing to hate. "You look awful, mate. Sure you're alright?"
A shiver crawled up Harry's spine, but he didn't feel cold at all. No, actually his skin felt flushed and warm.
"Yeah, just woke up, that's all," he said, nodding, but instantly regretting it as his brain shifted back and forth in his skull.
"Alright," Ron said sceptically, "I'll see you at breakfast."
As the door closed behind Ron, Harry quickly brought a hand up to his forehead, but couldn't tell what was warmer, his head or his hand. And now that Ron had mentioned breakfast, Harry could feel the nausea mounting, like an anchor rising from the depths of the sea, slowly being reeled in through his oesophagus.
The upside, he realised, was that everyone was going to Hogsmeade today, and since Umbridge banned him from going, at least he wouldn't have Ron and Hermione pestering him while he was sick. They meant well, he knew, and he tried so hard to just deal with it, but being sick, or injured, or in trouble all the time caused their constant mollycoddling to grate on him.
He rolled his shoulders, trying to work some of the tension out of his body, but his joints felt achy and sore. He supposed he was coming down with flu.
Truth be told, he wanted to crawl back into bed, but he'd promised to make an appearance at breakfast – Ron and Hermione would only wake him up if he didn't show himself and he didn't want to make a big deal out of a little touch of flu.
After trudging his way to the bathroom, he filled the sink with water and scrubbed at his face with one hand. He ran his wet fingers through his hair, trying to tame it, but when he looked in the mirror, he was shocked at his own appearance. He knew he was pale at the best of times, but this was ridiculous. Granted, his cheeks were flushed red and hot to the touch, but the rest of his face looked gaunt, his skin mottled with off-white and grey. His own reflection made him feel more ill.
Leaving the bathroom, he searched clumsily through his clothes and picked out a pair of trousers and a thin jumper, along with his socks and underwear.
When he was dressed, he decided it was time to go to breakfast. So with a painful stretch, he grabbed for the door handle with a clammy hand and carefully lumbered his way to the Great Hall.
Breakfast was loud and bustling, so thankfully he didn't feel conspicuous walking in a little late. Taking a seat across from his friends, he said a quick "hello" and poured himself a glass of pumpkin juice. Hermione was watching him. He could see it from the corner of his eye, but she quickly averted her gaze when he turned to her.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"Nothing," Ron said, jumping in before Hermione could say anything.
"You've both got that look again, like you want to say something..."
Harry picked his glass up with a shaky hand and took a large gulp of juice. It did nothing but make his stomach churn.
"Oh Harry, you look ill," Hermione blurted out, not able to hold it in.
"I'm fine, Hermione, just woke up on the wrong side of bed, that's all." Before he knew what was going on, Hermione's body was leaning across the table and her hand was pressed firmly on his forehead.
"You're hot and clammy," she said as Harry swatted her away.
It was completely by accident that his eyes strayed to the right, glancing at the head table, but to his embarrassment and dismay, Professor Snape was looking directly at him.
He probably saw all of that. 'Little baby Potter' he's thinking.
He turned back to Hermione – the lesser of two evils – and told her not to worry and that he was fine. But in truth, he really didn't feel well, and watching Ron shovel food into his mouth wasn't helping matters.
"You aren't fine, Harry," Hermione said and Ron grunted his agreement with a mouth full of food.
"It's alright," Harry implored, "I've probably just got flu or something."
"Do you want us to take you to Madam Pomfrey?" Hermione said, her brow knitted tightly together. Harry sighed inwardly. I'm not a child!
"I'll be fine, I've had worse." He forced a weak smile. "I might just go back to bed for a while."
"D'you want us t'get you 'nything from Hogsmeade?" Ron said through a mouthful of bacon.
Hermione jumped in. "We could go to the apothecary for you, see if they have any fever reducers –"
"No!" Harry said more forcefully than he'd intended. "No, honestly," his tone was softer this time, "I just need to get to bed." As he stood abruptly from the table, he could feel Professor Snape's gaze boring into him, but he refused to pay him any heed. "Enjoy Hogsmeade." He climbed unsteadily over the bench and started to leave.
"But Harry, you haven't had any breakfast? Harry..."
He didn't stop, opting to wave them off instead and head back to his dormitory.
He didn't bother to get undressed, deciding to collapse straight onto his bed in a heap, but his aching limbs didn't sink into the mattress like he'd hoped. Lying down just drew more attention to the throbbing. He took off his glasses and closed his eyes, willing the world away for a while. When another shiver wracked his bones, he pulled the duvet from under him and wrapped himself up, letting his injured hand hang off the bed. He honestly wasn't sure whether he was hot or cold, but every time he moved, sickness overwhelmed him so he decided to remain under the duvet. Curling into himself, he hoped that Hermione and Ron would have the sense to leave him alone for the day.
Moments later, he could feel his head lolling on the pillow and before he knew it, sleep had finally found him.
Harry awoke when he felt a tickling sensation on his nose. He shivered and groaned, untangling his arm from the duvet to scratch his itch, but as he brought his hand away, it was wet. Dragging his heavy eyes open, he checked his hand to see if it was blood, but thankfully he wasn't bleeding. Wiping his face, he realised it was sweat. He tried to sit up, but his limbs were shaky and stiff, and every move evoked a grunt.
A deep breath.
Another deep breath.
Countdown. Five, four, three, two...one.
With grimace, he pushed himself up into sitting position, but held his trembling arms out in disgust as it dawned on him just how much he'd been sweating. He was saturated, soaked, dripping! It wasn't all over, but parts of his jumper clung to his skin. He grabbed his glasses, ready to walk to the shower, but the first thing he noticed when he put them on was the darkness outside.
How long have I been sleeping? he thought.
As a chime rang out through the room, Harry's attention fell on the clock, and suddenly he felt as if the wind had been knocked out of him. His slightly chattering teeth were all he could hear.
He grunted as he stood quickly from the bed, but a sudden wave of nausea stopped him from moving anymore. His trembling limbs were difficult to hold still, so he wrapped his arms around himself to calm the shivers down. When the nausea passed, he walked on rickety legs to the stairwell and, picking up speed, made his way down to the common room. Evidently everyone was back from Hogsmeade.
"Alright mate?" Ron said, seeing Harry's sickly figure walk through the threshold.
"It's 7:30! Why didn't you wake me?" Harry snapped, eyeing Hermione next to Ron on the sofa.
"You were asleep; we didn't think you'd be going to detention tonight. Harry, you're sick!"
But Harry couldn't stay around to chat; he was already late for his scheduled detention with Umbridge. For a moment he thought that perhaps she might take pity on him because he was sick, but he decided that was the fever talking.
No, he knew Umbridge and she was cruel. It was as simple as that. He continued dizzily down the hall, certain that he was walking his pale and sweaty hide towards his doom.
"Mr Potter, how nice of you to join me," she said sweetly, but her face betrayed her voice.
"Sorry I'm late, I haven't been feeling –"
"I did not say you could speak!"
"No, but –" Harry argued.
"Quiet, Mr Potter! We have had enough of these detentions; even a brainless boy like you should have realised the rules by now."
He clenched his jaw. Umbridge had moods. From his time in detention, he'd seen her mood of indifference, her mood of smugness and her nightmare mood. Judging by her grouchiness and no-nonsense attitude, she was in a nightmare mood.
"Sit down." Harry did as he was told, fighting the urge to snap at her. He hunched his shoulders together, trying to ward off his fever. A moment ago he was burning up, but now he felt freezing. "Here is your quill. You know what to do."
Shakily picking up the quill, Harry sucked in a breath before starting to write his lines. He decided to keep his hand under the desk, unsure whether Umbridge would have a problem with him covering it up with the plaster. She never normally asked to see his hand; she seemed to revel more in the pain on his face.
His words were wobbly on the parchment and he hissed as the first few lines were etched into his skin.
As the evening went on, his writing got worse. The shivering was becoming more difficult to control and, in his head, he was becoming less attuned to everything. He didn't know how many lines he'd written, but the words were beginning to lose meaning. For a moment, he even forgot what it was he was supposed to be writing. Waves of sickness bled through his skin throughout the evening and he was convinced that if he looked in the mirror his face would be green. He felt so cold, like the room was filled with dementors, but the odd bead of sweat still dripped from his brow.
Umbridge berated him for his handwriting, but paid no attention when he tried to protest.
"I can't help being unwell," he tried to say, but his voice shook with every shiver. She was having none of it.
Leaning on his desk, she spoke calmly, but her voice carried an unmistakeably threatening edge.
"You, Mr Potter, are not here to be coddled. You are here to learn your place in this school." Then her face turned severe. "I will have none of your whining!"
Harry kept his head down for the rest of detention and frowned when he noticed the mixture of red and yellow seeping through his plaster. He thought he might gag. Closing his eyes for a second, he let out a shaky breath and wiped an irritating bead of sweat from his forehead.
He began writing again, wincing at the feeling of skin being scraped away.
Merlin, I hate her.
"Potter! You may leave," Umbridge squawked from her desk.
He didn't hesitate to get up, fully intending to leave before she had a chance to change her mind, but he moved too quickly and had to stop to let his swimming head settle.
"Oh and Mr Potter," she said in that sickly, syrupy voice that made Harry clench his teeth. He managed to turn to her, blinking away the dizziness. She tilted her head and threw him a fake smile. "You will be having a double detention with me tomorrow –"
"What? Why?" Harry snapped heatedly.
"I do not tolerate lateness and I certainly do not tolerate obnoxious young boys with appalling attitudes. You deserve this, Mr Potter. You know you do."
Harry simply stared at her, a retort failing to form on his lips.
"It is approaching curfew," Umbridge said, "I suggest you get to your dormitory before I have to issue another detention."
Merlin, I really hate her.
He was hot again – unbearably so – and definitely starting to regret not wearing a t-shirt under his jumper. The halls were virtually empty as he made his way back to Gryffindor Tower, but he tried to focus on nothing but putting one foot in front of the other. The heat made his head hurt and his eyes droop with tiredness. He wanted desperately to get to bed, but his legs were shivering as much as the rest of his body, despite the warmth he was exuding. Hearing the shuffling of his own feet, he was sure he was stumbling more than walking.
Rounding the deserted corridor, he was caught off guard when his stomach lurched and an uncomfortable lump formed in his throat. He had to stop. Hanging onto the wall, he bent forward thinking he might be sick in the corridor, but immediately jumped back up when a hand clamped down hard on his shoulder.
"Loitering in the corridor after curfew, Mr Potter, how very you."
Harry went to speak but, before he could do anything to stop it, his stomach squeezed painfully and he bent forward, expelling its contents all over the stone floor.
Snape scrunched up his nose in disgust as Harry stood, hunched and panting with his eyes closed wishing everything away.
With a flourish of his wand, Snape muttered a quick scourgify to banish the mess from the floor and crossed his arms, waiting for an explanation. Too much Firewhiskey, perhaps, he thought, readying himself to chastise the boy. Hmm, or no time for a proper breakfast, but enough to gorge on chocolate frogs? His usual sneer was plastered to his face as he waited for Harry to collect himself and look up.
Harry could feel the eyes on him, so he decided to wait for the dizziness to fade before he even tried to move. Every breath he took felt like one too many with the man's gaze burning into him. As the feeling of nausea subsided, he slowly straightened himself up and turned his attention to his professor.
At the sight of Harry's face, a less attuned person would have said Snape didn't react at all, but it was there in the deepening crinkle on his forehead and the slight widening of his eyes.
Snape took in the spectacle before him; a sweaty, pale, shaking Harry-Potter-shaped mess. The drop of sweat hanging precariously from his eyebrow was disconcerting.
"Mr Potter, this is the wrong way for the hospital wing."
"I know that, Sir," Harry retorted more tersely than he'd intended. Snape was about to scald him when Harry quickly turned away again, leaning on the wall and retching.
"Come with me," he said, grabbing Harry. With a tug, Harry was pulled into motion.
"Where are we going?" Harry asked thickly, tripping over his own feet as they walked.
"I suggest you focus your attention on walking."
They managed to reach the hospital wing without Harry falling down or throwing up again, much to his relief.
"Poppy!" Snape bellowed, leading Harry to a bed. He looked around, but there was no sign of the medi-witch anywhere. "Poppy!" he shouted again, marching towards her office. Then he spied the note on the door.
I have been called away and am currently in a meeting with Headmaster Dumbledore. In case of emergency, please notify the headmaster or contact your head of house.
Snape ripped the note from the door, growling under his breath. "Apparently Madam Pomfrey is otherwise indisposed, Mr Potter." He swept towards Harry, taking note of the boy's appearance and chattering teeth.
"How do you feel?" he asked stiffly.
"Yes, Potter, I can see that. In what way?"
"C-cold again and dizzy," Harry said, unable to hold back his shivering.
Snatching up Harry's wrist, Snape intended to take the boy's pulse, but was distracted by the discoloured plaster on his hand.
"What is this?" he said, waving Harry's hand in front of his face. Harry pulled it back, tucking it under his arm with a hiss.
"Do not lie to me, Mr Potter. I have neither the time nor the patience to play games." Snatching the hand back, ignoring Harry's feeble attempts to pull away, Snape slowly peeled back the plaster and Harry found himself having to look away. Although Snape knew there was some form of wound, he couldn't see it through the sickening mixture of blood and yellow ooze. "How did you do this?"
Harry thought for a moment, his head swimming. He couldn't tell Snape. If Umbridge found out, his life wouldn't be worth living. Not that it is now...
He settled for the age old excuse, "I fell."
Snape harrumphed and fetched some disinfectant from Pomfrey's stores. A chair scraped across the floor and Harry found himself face to face with the Potions Master.
"I didn't think you could get any more dim-witted, Mr Potter. This wound is infected; it's not surprising you feel unwell." Harry gulped. Snape daubed the disinfectant onto some cotton gauze. "This will sting."
As soon as the gauze hit his hand, Harry felt a burn. Unable to hold back, an ahh erupted from his mouth and he tried to tug his hand away, but the professor's grip was too firm.
Snape continued to dab at the wound, cleaning the sticky mess away. "I'm afraid the muggle way is the only way unless you tell me what you really did." Not once did he look up at the boy.
"I told you, I f-fell," Harry stuttered through chattering teeth.
"And I don't believe you." Rubbing harder at the dried patches of blood, Snape tightened his grip. Harry hissed again. "There are various spells and potions for infections, Mr Potter, but each is specific. Magic surpasses muggle medicine when infection is concerned and we can cure it quicker and more efficiently, but I cannot give you the same potion for an infection caused by a glass wound as I can for an infection caused by wood or metal. So I suggest you use that sorry excuse for a brain and tell me how you did this."
Harry's head did a flip. On the one hand, if Umbridge ever found out he told, she'd find a way of making his life a living hell...but on the other hand, he already felt like hell. His eyes caught the stern gaze of the Potions Master.
"Have you ever heard of septicaemia, Potter?" Snape said, and Harry gaped. "People die from septicaemia and if your infection gets worse, someone will have to explain to your little friends that you died through your own stupidity."
Harry felt a lump in his throat. "P-Please, Sir, promise it stays between us."
"I will promise no such thing, Potter. The shaking you're feeling, the sweating, the nausea? That will only get worse. Now, out with it."
"I can't," Harry said with pleading eyes.
"Please yourself. If you will not tell me, I will fetch the headmaster from his meeting." Snape rose from his chair, dropping Harry's hand, and with a flourish of his robes, headed for the door. Harry's heart skipped a beat at the sudden change in the situation.
"What...no, Professor! Wait!" Harry begged.
A hand on the doorknob.
A wave of cold air sweeping through the open door.
Snape stepped over the threshold. Harry's breath hitched.
"A blood quill!"
Snape stopped in his tracks, whipping his head round to meet Harry's desperate expression. He was telling the truth, Snape could see it in his eyes, but the truth was difficult to take in. After checking the corridors outside to see if anyone was around, Snape closed the door and stalked back across the room, not once taking his eyes off Harry.
"Who?" Snape asked, clenching his jaw and struggling to school his expression.
"Does it matter, Sir?" Harry knew that it did.
"Somebody has brought dark magic into this school, Potter. It matters."
"Umbridge," Harry said, but immediately regretted it. "Sir, please, if she f-finds out I told you, she'll kill me."
Snape didn't doubt it. If the woman was willing to use a blood quill on a student, she was capable of anything. He puffed a hot breath through his nose, like a dragon. How dare she? How dare she torture my students? Lily's child. Vile, evil –
"Wait here," he said, disappearing into Pomfrey's stores. He came back with two vials, a jar and a small first aid kit. "Take this." He thrust one of the vials into Harry's hand.
"What is it?"
"An antibiotic. Drink."
"What's th-that one?" Harry looks at the vial still in Snape's hand.
"A fever reducer, Potter! Now, drink!"
Harry gingerly brought the first vial to his lips and downed it in one. Snape swapped the vials, giving him the fever reducer. Without hesitation he swallowed the liquid, grimacing at the taste.
Snape began laying an array of materials on the spot of bed next to where Harry was sat.
"Hold out your hand." Harry did as he was told, his hand trembling as he watched the man douse another square of gauze in disinfectant. He closed his eyes, waiting for the sting.
"Ah!" he yelped. The pain was intense, but short-lived as Snape pressed down hard and wiped off the rest of the blood and ooze. He brought Harry's hand close to his face and was just able to make out the words.
"I must not tell lies? Why this?"
"She d-didn't believe me," Harry said, "about Voldemort."
Snape picked up the jar and opened it. He tipped a splodge of off-white cream onto clear bandage and carefully lowered the back of Harry's hand onto it. The cream was cold and soothing, taking the sting away. Snape wrapped the clear bandage around Harry's hand tightly, pressing it down at the sides to stop the cream from oozing out.
"The antibiotics and cream should fight the infection in your hand." Harry nodded. "You will likely feel ill for the next day or so. The fever reducer should already be working."
"Yes," Harry said, "I don't feel as shivery as before." He held out his hand and saw only a slight tremble. "Thank you, Sir." Snape said nothing, packing away the first aid kit instead. "Professor, what happens now?"
Snape knew he meant about Umbridge.
"It's late, Mr Potter. Nothing will change between now and the morning. You will sleep here tonight. I will remain until Madam Pomfrey returns."
"But –" Harry protested weakly. He had so many more questions.
"This is not an option. You will need more antibiotics when you wake, so you will stay here." Snape disappeared once again into Pomfrey's office and came out with a pair of Hogwarts pyjamas. "I will be in Madam Pomfrey's office. I suggest you change into these and get some sleep. Tomorrow is going to be a long day." Leaving the pyjamas on the bed next to Harry, Snape flourished his wand muttering a quick Nox and left Harry in darkness.
Snape slumped down into Pomfrey's armchair, only just resisting the urge not to storm down the halls and pay Umbridge a little visit.
Potter – despite his constant attempts to think him otherwise – was legally still a child. He was a child that Snape had vowed to protect. For Lily. Always for Lily.
His thoughts were on nothing but justice and vengeance on behalf of the witch he loved. Nobody, not even Potter, deserved to be tortured – especially not by someone he was supposed to trust. Umbridge had abused her power – it's not like you've never done that, Severus. You torture the boy every day! – Snape shook his head. I have never laid a finger on him. I have never harmed him like this. He tried to swing a punch at his conscience, but it kept eating away at him.
He wanted to bring Umbridge down, but the presence of Dumbledore complicated things. He was already in trouble with the Ministry, so any attack on Umbridge would be brushed aside and labelled in The Daily Prophet as Dumbledore's Revenge. No, he needed proof. The blood quill.
He sat for hours, mentally cursing the woman.
When Harry awoke in the morning, the first thing he noticed was that he wasn't shivering anymore. He could actually hold his hand out without it trembling. He still felt weak though, like all his energy had been used up during sleep. To his relief, the back of his hand, though still swollen, didn't seem to be weeping anymore. At least not that he could tell through the bandage.
But then there was the nausea. It wasn't overwhelming, but judging by the way he felt, he assumed his face was still ghostly. Hearing the sound of footfalls, he assumed Madam Pomfrey was on her way to check on him, but his thoughts were cut off as Snape's robes swept into view.
"Mr Potter, you've decided to join us."
Harry promptly tried to shift himself into sitting position, but failed miserably. As he tried again, Snape's hand came down upon his shoulder and pushed him back into the bed. He snatched Harry's hand and peeled back the bandage. The cream had soaked in, eradicating most of the infection, but it left an ugly scar. Snape grimaced slightly; he'd hoped the cream help fade some of the scarring, but it hadn't worked, probably due to the nature of the dark magic. He took a fresh bandage from his robes and re-dressed Harry's hand as a precaution.
"You will be staying here for the rest of the morning, so I suggest you spend this time resting." Snape's figure seemed to loom over him as he lay in bed. Snape thrust his hand into his pocket. "This," he said, holding out a vial, "is a blend of two different antibiotics. Take half now and half in an hour's time. I have left a fever reducer on your bedside table. You are to take it after you've taken the last dose of antibiotics. You are to stay in bed until I excuse you, is that clear?"
Harry took the vial from Snape's grip. "Yes, Sir. But what is going to happen today, I mean with Umbr –"
"That is none of your concern at the moment, Mr Potter. Now rest."
"But Professor, what if she finds out–"
"Rest assured, it will be dealt with," were Snape's cryptic words before he swept from the hospital wing as quickly as he'd arrived.
A/N: Final chapter - "Evil Toads" - will be up shortly. Thank you for reading.