Slightly PWP take on the challenge below. For those reading my Letters story - I am working on it. However, given that this almost 3,000 piece has only taken three hours and writing 3,000 words of my Letters fic has taken much, much longer, I would say that I need to multi-task to keep the creative juices flowing. Therefore, this may become another chapter fic. Maybe. Probably not. The new chapter of Letters will be out by the 31 July, I promise.
Read and review, please, and as usual, not my characters, just my sandbox :)
Challenge: Detrimental by Nightshade_sydneylover150 at Potions and Snitches
Harry discovers that his dream of living with the Weasleys' is detrimental to his health.
"Achoo!" Harry sneezed again, backing away from the group in the kitchen at the Burrow as the sneezes took over. He stopped sneezing just as he backed into something solid, actually, someone solid. Harry turned his head, eyes watering, to see Professor Snape glaring down at him.
"Are you quite done, Mr Potter?" Professor Snape asked with a leer.
"Sorry Professor, I just can't stop sneezing all of a sudden," Harry explained through gritted teeth, trying to warn Sirius off with his eyes. Harry's godfather stalked over, putting his hand on Harry's shoulder and glaring at Snape.
"What's your problem, Snape?" Sirius growled, standing tall so that he was two inches taller than Snape.
"As I am yet to meet anyone who enjoys being ran into, Black, I can assure you, my problem with your godson is quite common. Now if you excuse me," Snape said as he swept past the two men and into the kitchen. "Mrs Weasley, do you happen to have any ragwort in your garden?"
"Call me Molly, dear, please, and no, it's a weed. I get the boys to pull it out as soon as it starts growing," Molly answered with a sheepish smile. "Did you need it for a potion? I could send them looking for some in the fields around us." Harry saw Ron, Fred and George shake their heads at her from behind Snape's back but she didn't seem to notice. Harry was more concerned at how the Weasley matriarch had actually asked Snape to call her by her first name like he was a friend.
"No, it is not urgent. I will acquire some from Diagon Alley tomorrow. Thank you anyway," Professor Snape replied stiffly, making Harry think that he was as confused by Mrs Weasley's request as Harry was. Harry was distracted from that train of thought as he started sneezing again, so rapid fire and hard that he couldn't breathe properly. Sirius grabbed his arm to steady him but Harry shook his head and sunk to the floor, cursing his cold.
"Harry, you sound like you need to take some Pepper-Up Potion and head straight to bed," Mrs Weasley said as she bustled over to him. "How long has it been this bad?"
"A couple of days," Harry answered miserably, sniffing.
"So since you came to the Burrow," Sirius clarified.
"Yeah," Harry answered, leaning into Mrs Weasley's hand as she used the back of it to check for a temperature.
"You're not overly warm. How do you feel?" Mrs Weasley asked, tilting Harry's head up to the light.
"My nose is stuffy, I can't stop sneezing and last night my chest felt really tight and it was kind of hard to breathe. I opened the window to get some fresh air and it felt better though," Harry answered.
"Do you feel itchy, Mr Potter?" Professor Snape asked, walking over and bending down so that he could fix Harry in those dark eyes.
"Um, now that you mention it, kind of. And I've got a bit of a rash on my, um, my stomach," Harry said, gesturing in the general area. "Why?"
"Your school file does not list any allergies," Professor Snape answered. "However, this sounds like an allergy, probably to something in this house since your symptoms started when you arrived."
Harry frowned, wondering if he knew where Snape was leading. Harry had only just managed to convince Professor Dumbledore to let him stay with the Weasley's this holiday after the happenings at the Dursleys. "What does that mean," Harry paused, "Professor?"
"It means, Mr Potter, that you can't stay here tonight. By the sounds of it, I would say that it is an allergy to dust or pollen and that it worsens at night. If you were to worsen any further, you could begin to suffer real trouble when breathing and may even go into respiratory distress," Professor Snape said matter-of-factly. Harry looked at him blankly, not understanding the last words and he sighed impatiently. "You may stop breathing, Potter."
"Oh." A beat. "That's not good."
The look Professor Snape gave him seemed to be part 'you think?' and part humour. Harry wasn't sure that was right though, since Professor Snape would never laugh at something Harry did.
"Indeed. Molly, can you contact Professor Dumbledore and let him know that I am taking custody of Mr Potter," Snape paused as Sirius snorted angrily, "Until such time as I have been able to discern what he is allergic to. If it something he can be desensitised to, he will be able to return in small doses. If not, he will need to find alternate accommodations for the summer. Perhaps with Lupin?"
"He's not going anywhere with you," Sirius snarled, bending down to help Harry to his feet and pulling him closer.
"I am a trained Healer and Potions Master, Black. He would be safest with me. Especially since you can not hope to accommodate him elsewhere," Professor Snape said, unusually levelly.
"I don't care," Sirius answered back, squeezing his hand around Harry's arm. Harry looked down at it, then back up at Sirius, hoping that he'd get the message and lighten his hold but Sirius was busy staring down Snape.
"As you wish, Black, but don't come crying to me when he chokes on nothing in his sleep because you'd rather him dead or in danger than with me," Professor Snape spat back. His eyes travelled down to Sirius' white-knuckled grip on Harry and Harry saw them flash in a way that meant no good thing. "And while we're on the subject, unhand your godson."
Sirius frowned, still glaring at Snape and didn't even look down to Harry's arm. "You're the one he's in danger with, Snape. And don't tell me what to do!"
Sirius voice had risen to a shout and Harry felt his breathing quicken, the memories all to close for his comfort. He was used to the feeling of fear making his heart beat fast and his breath wheeze slightly by now, a week after the car accident which had broken his arm and killed Aunt Petunia but never before had it been so hard to take a breath. Suddenly, Harry realised what it was that Snape was worried about. He couldn't breathe. "Siri..." He wheezed, coughing hard. Once the coughing started, he couldn't stop and he slid back to the ground again, Sirius' grip coming free in shock.
Snape leapt into action, stepping forward and putting a hand on Harry's chest to make him sit up straight. "As much as you can, Potter, point your chin up. It'll open your airway, make it easier for you to breathe."
Harry nodded slightly, eyes wide and fixed on Snape's in fear. In return, Snape seemed reluctant to break the gaze, perhaps realising that he was steadying Harry slightly. The vice around Harry's throat kept closing though and within moments he found himself scratching at his throat, not caring about the stinging pain as his nails dug in.
"Relax, Mr Potter." Harry shook his head, trying frantically to communicate that he couldn't relax, he couldn't breathe! The dark edges to his finish heightened his panic and he clawed harder at his throat, thrashing with his body against the invisible force which must be standing on his chest. He was only just aware of arms encircling him in a tight grip, forcing his head back as liquid was tipped into his mouth. It spilt down his front as his coughing dislodged it but finally Harry could feel a slight loosening, a tiny bit of air seeping through. He tried to take a deep breath, to savour it, but that merely started another torturous round of coughing, where knives tore at his throat from the inside, so when he could take another breath in at last, he panted in small gasps, coughing intermittently.
"You are okay. You can breathe. You are calm and you are safe," A soft voice, so familiar and yet so foreign, said next to his ear. Harry blushed as he realised that it was Professor Snape who had pined his arms to his side, embracing him bodily.
"Hurts," Harry croaked, making a pained sound as the word seared through his throat.
"I know. You had an asthma attack, most likely brought on by your allergies and stress," Professor Snape said while moving Harry so that they were sitting side by side on the floor. "That was a Potion designed to counteract asthma attacks but I believe you still need medical attention." He looked up towards Mrs Weasley. "Muggle hospitals are usually best equipped to deal with this type of illness, as it is quite rare among wizarding children. Is there a Muggle hospital nearby?"
Ron had come to sit on Harry's other side and Harry gratefully leaned into his friend, still finding that he could only take short breaths that did not nearly fill his desire for oxygen. "You alright, mate?"
"Not really," Harry wheezed, squeezing his eyes shut against the pain.
"There's a Muggle hospital about 20 miles away – they use ambulances to bring patients to it," Mr Weasley said, his hand on Sirius, appearing to be restraining him. "Oh, and the doctor's clinic in town serves as an A&E for locals."
"That will do. Do you still have a car?" Professor Snape asked.
"No, sorry, Severus," Mr Weasley answered. Harry huffed a laugh at Ron's look of horror towards his Dad then coughed harshly.
"Stop trying to talk," Professor Snape growled at him, sounding much more like himself.
"Sorry," Harry coughed. The raised eyebrow that Severus sent his way wasn't completely disparaging.
"We're going to have Apparate, Potter. Have you Apparated before?" Professor Snape, pulling Harry up to stand next to him. Harry groaned as dizziness hit him and shook his head in answer to Snape's question.
"In that case, this may be slightly uncomfortable," Professor Snape said. "Hold onto my arm, firmly and then you'll feel a squeezing sensation and we'll be at the hospital. When they ask for your name, say that it's Harry Smith and that I'm your uncle, who you live with. Muggles tend to complicate things when they have to give medical attention. The Headmaster will go in and remove any records of you being there later," he finished.
Harry nodded, understanding that it was to protect him. "Okay," He wheezed as Snape looked him in the eye. Snape looked at Mr Weasley and Mr Weasley nodded at him and then Harry felt a spinning sensation and a vice closed around his chest. He was just starting to panic, grasping at the suddenly solid arm under his hand when the sensation disappeared suddenly. He gasped, feeling fire burn in his lungs again and suddenly he couldn't breathe again. He heard a muttered curse as his legs went to jelly beneath him and then he was swung upwards, ending up on his back. He heard Snape shout for help and then he gave into the warm darkness looming up.
Harry woke up slowly, panicking suddenly as he felt something in his throat. He coughed and thrashed before a weight settled on his arms, pushing him back to the bed. "Potter, relax!" Harry turned his head towards the voice, recognising it. "You have a tube down your throat which is helping you breathe and keeping your airways open. If you calm down, you will be able to breathe normally. The nurse is calling a doctor and they will take it out. You just have to hold on for a moment and try to breathe with the machine." Snape's hand moved to Harry's face, brushing the hair out of his face. "You're okay, just hang on."
Harry focused on the reassuring pressure on his arm and tried to take a deep breath in. Air rushed into his lungs, filling them properly for the first time all day. Snape nodded at him, squeezing his arm reassuringly.
"Okay, Harry, let's take that tube out," Snape moved back and a new man came into Harry's view. "I want you to take a deep breath and then when I tell you, blow it out like you're blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, okay?" Harry nodded, still fighting against his instinct to thrash around. He felt Snape's fingers nimbly pinch his wrist and he frowned angrily. Then the doctor was telling him to blow and he coughed as the tube was drawn out of his throat. He coughed again, eyes watering before Snape leaned in again.
"Your accidental magic was about to lash out," Snape said, looking down towards Harry's wrist so that he knew what Snape was talking about.
Harry tried to say sorry but his lungs and throat burned on the first letter and he coughed instead.
"Don't try to talk yet, Mr Smith. Give it a few hours. You're on low level pain medication to help with the rawness in your throat and prednisone for your asthma symptoms. Have you ever had an asthma attack before, Harry?" The doctor asked him.
Harry shook his head, frowning. "Have you ever been short of breath, had a sore chest while doing exercise?" Harry nodded at this one, remembering many times when he had had a sore chest during exercise. "In that case, I'm going to prescribe you a Ventolin inhaler which contains salbutamol and a nurse is going to teach you how to use it. You need to keep this with you at all times and when you feel that tight-chested feeling, you can take your inhaler to stop that feeling. Your uncle said you go to boarding school, so you need to tell one of your teachers about your inhaler and all the other teachers need to know that the teacher you've taught how to use your inhaler is the one they need to call when you have an attack. All your teachers should know how to use one anyway, but we like for you to have the same teacher all the time to keep some consistency in your treatment."
"I'll see to it that I personally teach one of Harry's teachers," Professor Snape said. Harry nodded, knowing that Professor Snape was going to teach Professor McGonagall. "Should we keep a record of the days when he has to take it?"
"Yes, that helps when he has a major attack like this. Also, he needs a clean, dust-free environment with as little pollen producing plants as possible. If your school lets you bring your own pillows and blankets, take hypo-allergenic ones and use them instead of the ones that come with your bed. The nurses will give you a comprehensive list. You're lucky your uncle was so quick to bring you in, Mr Smith; that was a bad attack." The doctor patted Harry's leg and then walked out of the room, smiling at Professor Snape.
"You couldn't just go one week without drama, could you, Potter?" Professor Snape lent forward from his chair and said.
Harry shrugged, feeling his eyelids droop. Snape lent back, looking at Harry steadily.
"It looks like you may be spending more than a little while at my home, Harry." Professor Snape paused and seemed to think about his use of Harry's first name. "I have to go tell Professor Dumbledore that you are, for the most part, alright."
Harry frowned suddenly, the noises from the hospital finally making their way into his mind. The memories of waking up alone, terrified, in a very similar hospital bed only a week ago screamed at him and he closed his eyes, trying to block them out. Suddenly, there was a warm weight on his arm again and then someone was holding his hand. Harry looked down to see potion-stained fingers grasping his and smiled weakly at his Professor.
"On second thought, since you are about five calm minutes away from falling asleep, I might just wait." Snape turned his face up to the ceiling and Harry thought it seemed like he was relaxing slightly himself. "Lily had asthma." The quiet admission made Harry jump and he begged with his eyes for more information, though he knew that Snape couldn't see him. "Our first flying lesson was Gryffindor and Slytherin, just like yours, and she freaked out on the broom. Hit the ground wheezing and coughing and I was so glad that her and her mum had drilled it into me, what to do if she ever had an asthma attack in front of me. Madame Pomfrey was just starting out, a lot younger than she is now, and she had no idea what was wrong. Asthma doesn't really happen in wizarding children, you see. Something about less environmental irritants as they grow up. I thought, up until today, that that would be the most useful that information would ever be to me; saving my best friend's life." Snape put his head down and looked at Harry, and Harry got the idea that Snape wasn't seeing James Potter anymore. "I was wrong."
This came mostly from the night in which I had an asthma attack that almost required hospitalisation so it is a fairly realistic look at what an asthma attack feels like. In Australia, treatment for an asthma attack is taught as 4 puffs of the person's inhaler, wait 4 minutes, another 4 puffs and then if the person is still not improving after 4 minutes, call the number for emergency services. If you know that one of your friends has asthma, please, ask how they treat their attacks and what their triggers are. It could one day save their life.