Chapter 37

Pomfrey And Dumbledore

Poppy Pomfrey woke up to an irritating buzzing in her ear; lately sleep hadn't been coming easy. She slapped at her ear, as if trying to swat away an invisible bee. As she became more and more aware, she realized the buzzing wasn't part of her dream or a bee, but the spell she had on someone in the hospital wing. Their vitals had shot way down and she was needed; grabbing her white sleeping robe, she flung it on as she made a bee line for the ward. First, though, she closed the door to her Quarters tightly, despite the fact someone would have to pass her in the hospital wing to get to her rooms.

Stepping around the bed, she moved the curtains aside to get to Albus' bed, concerned by his moaning. He had been fine earlier; the worst of his withdrawal stage was over with, although he still couldn't eat much. Still, the potions she gave him kept him healthy by giving him the vitamins and minerals his body needed. Of course they couldn't be used long term; they would have to find out what was wrong with him. It was beyond her ability, he would need a healer from St. Mungo's to properly identify the problem he was having. More specifically, the gastric department; Andrea would know who she needed to contact.

Pressing her hand against the Headmaster's head, she realized his fever had risen exponentially in just a few hours. He must have come down with something, which shouldn't have happened unless he'd caught something from someone who had visited. Shaking her head in irritation, she stalked over to her potions cupboard, swishing her wand to remove the wards on it. She always made sure to lock and ward the cupboard door; it just wouldn't do for students to help themselves to her potions. Not only was it dangerous to take potions with self-diagnosis, she needed to make sure they got the help they need.

Removing a few potion-filled vials she closed and locked it again, before returning to Dumbledore's side. He wasn't awake, so at least his suffering was minimal, but with a few potions his fever would be gone. As she always had to do, she spelled them into him. For some odd reason, Albus had continued to spit out every potion she tried to get him to take, insisting he just couldn't bring himself to take them. The same thing happened with all his food, which had alerted her to a deeper problem. Nothing about that made sense to her; it wasn't a spell, or at least nothing that was showing up on her scan anyway. The symptoms led her to believe it was some sort of spell, but the results of all her scans disproved her theory, which did infuriate her. She'd never been so confused in her life. She was still waiting on a Floo call back from Andrea, the head Matron at St. Mungo's. They were extremely busy right now, so she wasn't expecting any reply for another few days at least. She could have said it was for Albus Dumbledore, but decided against it. He deserved to suffer, after what he'd done to Harry.

Immediately after giving him the potions she began to see a difference in Albus; he stopped moaning and his fever was significantly reduced. Steam rose from his body; she waited patiently for it to disappear, then cast a cleaning charm on his nightwear. Once satisfied he would be fine for what was left of the night, she left him alone, closing the curtain again and making her way back to her quarters, feeling exhausted. Slipping under her covers, she was extremely relieved to be back in the warmth of her bed. It was so cold out there, especially at night.

Poppy moaned as the buzzing in her ear woke her up once again. Blindly searching for her pocket watch, she finally grasped it and checked the time; the watch lit up at night so she was able to see the time― magic truly was a wonderful thing. She saw that it had only been three hours since she'd returned to her bed after seeing to Dumbledore. The fever reducers should have lasted a lot longer than that. It was now six o'clock on the morning, there was no point to going back to sleep now.

Opening her cupboard door, she removed a t-shirt and a pair of trousers, and began dressing herself. Once that was done, she put on her uniform, more out of habit than anything. Brushing her long grey locks, she twisted her hair into her perpetual bun. Sighing, she acknowledged that it was probably going to be a long day; she was tempted to take a dreamless sleeping potion and just sleep twelve hours straight. Oh, what a slice of heaven that would be; unfortunately, it wasn't in her character to do such a thing.

Once again leaving the warmth of her quarters, she stalked along the corridor and slid into the hospital wing via a door only she used. Alarmed, she stepped up to the Headmaster's bed when she heard violent coughing coming from within its curtains. It sounded like he had a chest infection, or pneumonia. Opening the curtains, the sight that greeted her was much worse: he was coughing up blood, never a good sign. Switching to nurse mode, she immediately began scanning him to see what exactly was going on. She conjured a wet rag and wiped the blood away, and some of the sweat that gathered on his brow, then ran another scan.

Scan completed, she blinked rapidly at the results; if she didn't know any better, she'd say he had all the symptoms of the plague. Stepping away from him alarmed, she immediately cast disinfectant and cleaning charms on herself, as if it would help her. If it was pneumonic plague, then she was already infected. Anyone that went near him was infected, since it was infectious through breathing in the air-borne particles.

Flicking her wand she closed and sealed the doors to the hospital wing, stopping anyone from getting in. Rushing through to her office, she grabbed a handful of Floo powder and called in the destination of the Headmaster's office. Sticking her head in, she was relieved to see that Minerva was up and in the office.

"Minerva, did you visit Albus recently?" Poppy demanded urgently.

"No, I haven't been down. Poppy, are you okay?" Minerva asked, sensing that something was wrong. Had Dumbledore left the hospital wing? If so, she had to alert Severus as soon as possible.

"Albus has developed pneumonic plague symptoms; I need Severus to brew the curative potion before it's too late for him," Poppy explained, extremely frazzled.

"Poppy, I don't think you need to worry," Minerva said, her lips pursed so tightly they had disappeared completely.

"Didn't you hear what I just said?" Poppy asked loudly, extremely confused.

"Poppy, I'm afraid Albus has been a victim of a…prank," Minerva said, barely able to stop herself laughing.

"Excuse me?" Poppy asked, glaring at Minerva and demanding an explanation.

"Harry," was all Minerva had to offer.

Poppy deflated. "Of course," she said, sighing sadly. She couldn't even bring herself to be cross at Harry or even Severus for his actions.

"It's just a prank; it's not contagious and certainly not life threatening, at least I don't think so," Minerva explained, but she wouldn't put anything past Harry.

"Dear Merlin, what I am supposed to do? He's exhibiting all the symptoms!" Poppy cried in frustration, and then it dawned on her: the scan had shown the symptoms, but not the problem…and no spell casting to indicate anything had been cast on him. The fact that Dumbledore hadn't been eating made a lot more sense now. "He has something to do with Dumbledore not eating as well?" she added in resignation.

Minerva's lips twitched in amusement, giving away the answer.

"I don't understand, if it's due to pranks, how am I not able to stop it?" Poppy asked, flustered now and feeling rather inadequate. After all, Harry had been in the Muggle world all his life, never knowing the magical world. She, on the other hand, had known magic all her life. Now along came the child, able to successfully cast spells she couldn't undo; it would make anyone feel deficient and incompetent.

"That, I cannot understand," Minerva admitted, "You would have to take it up with the boy; even my own spell wouldn't stop it." And she was no slouch when it came to magic, anyone she went up against would tell you that. It was also why she was an Order member; the Order of the Phoenix was made up of pretty powerful and formidable wizards and witches. Well, most of them; unfortunately, Mundungus Fletcher was not included in that category, but then again, he was mostly just Dumbledore's informant.

"Did you ask?" Poppy enquired.

"I did, but I didn't receive the answer I wanted. Severus told me about how Harry desired revenge against Dumbledore. The pranks he's playing, if we can call them as such, leave Dumbledore starving, fragile and obviously defenceless. Everything that Dumbledore heaped upon Harry as a small child," Minerva explained, no longer feeling the urge to laugh as she thought about it.

"I see," Poppy said, looking saddened. She remembered the results of the scan she'd done on Harry and conceding the point.

"Poppy, Albus won't be here much longer," Minerva confessed.

"What do you mean?" Poppy demanded.

"He will be arrested by the Ministry. I don't have an exact date, but I can't imagine it will be too long," Minerva told her. "Nobody can know about this, I'm sure you understand?"

"I do understand," Poppy said, "But what are the charges?"

"You'll find out soon enough," Minerva said, not up for getting into that discussion.

It had to be bad if Minerva wasn't willing to speak about it, that much she realized. "I shall leave you to it, I must get back to the Headmaster," Poppy replied when it was obvious the conversation was ending. Plus she was on her knees; she was an older woman, it wasn't so easy anymore.

"I'll see you at breakfast," Minerva said. "Be there, you need to keep yourself fit. It does no good if you end up sick as well." Poppy had missed breakfast and lunch yesterday, Minerva had noticed, and that wasn't good.

"Of course," Poppy said, more of a platitude than anything.

"I mean it, Poppy," Minerva warned, "We do not want another healer coming into this mess."

"Very well," Poppy conceded in defeat.

"Good, glad to hear it," Minerva said, watching as the Healer ended the floo-call.

Severus woke up, and switched his alarm off; he was so used to getting up that he no longer needed his alarm. Yet he continued to set it without thought, just in case; he was never late for anything and he didn't want to start now. Staring down at his submissive, his lips twitched just remembering last night. Harry was definitely the most responsive bed partner he'd ever had, and so impatient too. He had completely worn Harry out; no doubt the boy'd sleep in today. Slipping out of the warm covers, he made sure not to disturb Harry as he shivered in the cold air. Grabbing his clothes and then robes he left the room, closing the door slowly so it didn't creak.

He stood silently, still as a statue and stared down at his left forearm, completely mesmerised by the pale, clear skin there. He could scarcely believe that the Dark Mark was gone. The horrid mistake he'd made as a teenager had been removed, and by a young man with hardly any magical experience. Harry didn't seem to understand what was and wasn't possible; even Dumbledore had looked into it but had been unable to come up with a solution. Then again, knowing Dumbledore, he probably hadn't tried too hard. The same couldn't be said about himself; he had tried everything, potions, spells, and he'd even invented one to at least change the Mark. It had of course been a futile effort. He did wonder what Harry had done, or said in Parseltongue to make it disappear. He'd been too elated and… excited last night to ask, and he wasn't going to spoil the fun by asking.

He was tempted, very tempted, to go to the Great Hall in nothing but a t-shirt; too bad it would ruin his reputation. Although he could roll his sleeves up... no, he couldn't do that, it would draw unwarranted attention to him, especially from the Dark Lord. That was if he didn't already know; who knew what kind of backlash had occured? Well, he could dream, of course.

Shivering again, he quickly got dressed, not wanting to end up sick. Flicking his wand he lit the fire to warm the place up. It would be for Harry though, since he would be in the Great Hall for breakfast. Since Harry was sleeping in, he'd be actually eating a proper breakfast. He was starving; no doubt Harry would be as well. Little wonder, with their activities last night.

"Grace?" Severus called, keeping his voice low.

"Yes, sir?" Grace asked as she appeared, speaking as softly as her Master.

"Make breakfast for Harry when he wakes. Let him know the twins are coming at one o'clock; if he wishes he can join me, but he is to go to his usual spot," Severus said.

"Of course, sir," Grace said, nodding eagerly.

"Good," Severus said. With that he left his quarters. Feeling the wards go back up, he made his way to the Great Hall. He'd decided to eat there for once, wondering if Harry would be able to join him there soon. As always, the students quieted down upon seeing him, but resumed talking when he took his seat.

"I had Poppy calling me this morning," Minerva said, staring at Severus.

"I see," Severus said, his lips twitching.

"How is he doing it, Severus?" Minerva asked. It had been irritating her since Poppy spoke to her earlier this morning. She just couldn't understand it at all; her spells should have cancelled it. Then again, Poppy's should have as well; it was baffling, and she didn't like being confused.

Severus just chuckled under his breath, in no hurry to give away Harry's talents.

"Severus!" Minerva whined in exasperation.

Just then the hall went ominously silent as the students closest to the doors all craned their necks to see what was going on. A few further away even knelt on their seats, and a few had the guts to stand up. The staff all looked up curiously; wondering what had silenced the children. They then fell silent themselves.

Big thanks to Jake and Jordre for editing the chapter!