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Scenes from an Illness

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Harry was exhausted. And freezing cold -- shivering, in fact. He knew it was well past time to leave the clean-up work they have been doing at Grimmauld Place and go home, but he didn't have the energy. Maybe if he closed his eyes and rested for a few minutes, he would be able to get up and Floo home...


"Potter, it's time to go!"

Harry tried to open his eyes at Severus' command, but could only huddle in the chair as he shivered.

"Potter! What?" Harry felt a cool hand on his forehead. "Damn, you're burning up!"

A heavy blanket was wrapped around him.

Harry felt a diagnostic spell wash over him and he screamed... the pain... everything went black.


A warm voice washed over him. "Damn you, Harry. Of all stupid things to catch, mumpityups. You're supposed to get this when you're a child, it's so benign, but as an adult..." A gusty sigh. "I can't even use any magic to help you..."

"Sev'rs?" Harry moaned.

"Silly brat." Severus laid what must have been a cool washcloth on his forehead.

"Fees gud," Harry mumbled. Then shivered. "Cold..."

"You're really sick, Potter," Severus said softly. "I need you to just sleep."

So Harry did.


The urgency of his bladder woke Harry. He fumbled with the covers and suddenly a warm hand was there to stop him.

"You need to stay in bed," Severus said softly.

"Bat'rm," Harry gritted out.

"Oh, fuck," Severus groaned. He gently eased Harry back on the bed. "Stay there a moment."

"Gotta pee," Harry mumbled.

The covers were eased back and the nightshirt -- nightshirt? -- was eased up. Some fumbling near his groin and Severus commanded, "It's okay, I have a pan. You can go."

Harry released a stream of piss, in relief. When he was done, a warm flannel was run over his groin and the pan removed. The nightshirt was straightened and the covers lay back over him.

"You want a drink of water?" Severus asked.

Harry nodded. An arm was eased about his shoulders and his head raised. A glass was at his lips.

"Just a sip," Severus ordered. "Just to moisten your mouth."

The water was cool but not cold. Harry held it in his mouth for a moment before swallowing. He leaned in for more.

"Just one more," Severus said. "Small sip."

It wasn't much but it was good. He heard the glass set on the table next to the bed, and the arm removed to let him lay down.

He thought he felt someone tucking him in as he fell asleep.


"Harry? Harry?" A hand on his forehead. "Damn, you're burning up again."

The cool washcloth was placed gently on his forehead.

"Harry? Can you wake up for me for a minute?"

Harry struggled to open his eyes.

"Good boy!" Severus was encouraging. "Do you need to go to the bathroom?"

Harry nodded groggily.

"Okay, hang on," Severus said. Blankets were moved back and the nightshirt was eased up. "Okay, go if you can."

Harry tried to relax but couldn't go.

"Take your time," Severus said softly.

Harry took a breath and then was able to release a small stream of piss.

"You're doing fine," Severus encouraged.

The warm cloth on his lower body felt good.

"How about a clean nightshirt? Feel up to that?" Severus asked.

Harry kind of shrugged.

"Let's try it, anyway," Severus said. "If you can help at all, that will make it easier."

Severus got an arm around Harry, eased him to a more-or-less sitting position. Not too much of the shirt was under Harry's arse, so it was a matter of working with flailing arms to get the current shirt removed. A crisp, clean shirt was eased over Harry's head and Severus guided Harry's arms through the sleeves. He eased Harry back and rolled him on his side slightly to tuck the shirt under his bum.

The blankets were eased back over Harry and he fell asleep.


Harry swam to consciousness, drawn there by the sound of Severus' voice.

"...the wizard could not sleep or eat with the pot beside him, but the pot refused to leave, and he could not silence it or force it to be still. At last the wizard could bear it nor more. "Bring me all your problems, all your troubles, all your woes," he screamed, fleeing into the night, with the pot hopping behind him along the road into the village. "Come! Let me cure you, mend you, and comfort you! I have my father's cooking pot, and I shall make you well!"

The words made no sense, but the voice was comforting. He let the voice wash over him for a bit before he fell back asleep.


"Harry... please... stay with me Harry..." A sob? "You don't get to do this, Harry!"

Blackness returned.


Harry blinked, exhausted. He at least felt momentarily okay, but he did need to use the bathroom. He stirred.

"Harry?" Severus attracted his attention. "Don't try to get up."

"Gotta piss," Harry mumbled.

"Just a moment," Severus replied. He grabbed a pan that was near the foot of the bed, eased back the covers and... wait! He was lifting Harry's nightshirt!

"Wha?" Harry got out, as he batted at Severus' hands.

"You have nothing I have not already seen," Severus sighed. "Relax and let me help, because you are not ready to get out of bed."


"Just relax and let me help," Severus instructed.

Flushing, Harry did as he was told. A not-quite-cold pan was placed between his legs and Severus instructed, "You can go now."

Harry tried for a moment. By now he was totally embarrassed and, while his bladder insisted he needed to go, he couldn't.

"Ah! You must be feeling better," Severus commented. "Let me move away for a moment, to give you some privacy." He moved to the other side of the room, and overtly looked out the window.

Harry's need to empty his bladder overcame his embarrassment, and soon he was pissing into the pan.

Severus turned and asked, "Finished?"

Harry nodded. Severus handed him a damp flannel. "You can clean yourself up, then."

Severus took the pan as Harry swiped not quite ineffectively at himself. He tugged the nightshirt down and lay back, exhausted.

Severus came back into the room and asked, "If I help, do you think you can sit on a chair for a few minutes? I'd like to put fresh sheets on the bed for you. And maybe help you change into a clean nightshirt."

"How long have you been here?" Harry asked.

"You've been sick for four days," Severus replied. "Somehow, again exceeding expectations, Mr. Potter, you have mumpityups."

"Mumpa-what?" Harry frowned.

"Mumpityups," Severus repeated. "It's normally a childhood ailment, most magical children have it before the age of eight. You are the exceptional person who has suffered from it as an adult. Which is, of course, then very dangerous."

"I didn't do it on purpose!" Harry protested.

Severus smirked. "You never do!"

"I'll try that chair thing," Harry offered. "But I don't think I can go far."

"Just a moment," Severus replied. He carried a chair from one side of the room to right next to the bed. "You barely have to stand, just let me guide you to the seat."

Severus practically had to lift Harry out of the bed to settle him in the chair.

"You going to be okay there while I do this?" Severus asked.

"I think so." Harry frowned.

"I'll just be a moment," Severus promised.

Severus efficiently stripped the bed, and placed fresh sheets on the mattress. He put a new cover on the pillows and folded the coverings back for Harry.

Severus had a fresh nightshirt in his hands. "Do you want some help?"

Harry started to try to take his current nightshirt off, but couldn't even get his arms out of the sleeves. He nodded. "Please."

Severus efficiently took the nightshirt off and had the clean one on before Harry could get cold.

"Okay, put your arms around my neck," Severus directed. "That will make it easier to get you back into the bed."

"Why don't you just use a featherweight charm?" Harry asked.

"Ah! You wouldn't know," Severus said, close to Harry's ear. "You cannot use any magic in the vicinity of someone with mumpityumps. It causes pain in the sufferer and the magic itself may go awry."

Severus levered Harry up and swung him close to the bed. With a gentle heave, Severus had Harry back on the bed and swung his feet around, so he could lie back down. He pulled the covers back over Harry.

"That's how I figured out what was wrong with you," Severus admitted. "You were feverish and unwell downstairs, I cast a diagnostic charm on you, and, I am sorry, you passed out from the pain."

"You weren't to know," Harry waved his hand. "Wait! You've been here for four days without using magic?"

Severus nodded. "Even downstairs, I've been reluctant to use too much magic. Luckily, the kitchen is stocked with basic and I've been making do with tinned food and tea."

"Couldn't you call for help?"

"Getting more Floo powder was on the list of things to be done, and most anyone I would have called was most likely busy for the holiday," Severus admitted. "And there's not a lot to be done besides to keep the patient warm and to let the illness run its course. It's been no worse here than I would have been at my apartment."

"I'm sorry!" Harry said.

"Not your fault," Severus replied. "You didn't risk your life and go out and get mumpityups on purpose."

"True," Harry agreed. And then yawned. "I'm exhausted."

"Then sleep some more," Severus replied. "I'll be here. I have no where else to be."

"I guess I don't either," Harry admitted softly, closing his eyes.


The next time Harry woke, he almost felt human again. He was definitely still weak, but he could feel some improvement.

He looked around, to find himself alone. He must be better, for Severus to have left him alone.

Harry was debating if he had the strength to get himself up when Severus returned.

"You're looking much better," Severus observed.

"Feeling better," Harry agreed. "Any chance I can, like, actually go to the bathroom?"

Severus frowned. "I'll have to help you there. And no shenanigans."

Harry snickered. "I am not up to shenanigans. And, yes, you can help me get there."

"Let me set some things up for you, then," Severus replied. "Wait for me, it will only take a minute."

It was closer to five minutes, but Harry relished the thought of moving around and actually using a bathroom properly.

Harry threw back the covers and swung around to sit on the edge of the bed.

"Whoa. Dizzy!" he said.

"Take a minute, don't want you to fall," Severus directed.

Harry sat on the side of the bed, while Severus hovered next to him.

"Okay, I'm ready!"

Severus moved next to Harry, took one hand and helped Harry stand. Severus put his other hand on Harry's lower back, to keep him steady.

They shuffled to the bathroom, which was luckily just across the hall. Severus had brought in a chair and guided Harry to sit down.

"Take your time, I'll be just outside," Severus directed. "Don't try too much, and call when you're ready to go back, or if you need help." He stepped out of the room and pulled the door closed behind himself.

Harry used the back of the chair to steady himself as he pissed. When he was finished, he sat on the chair. Deciding he'd feel better if he washed up a bit, he leaned over the sink and waited for the water to warm up. He used the handy flannel to wash his face and arms, then found some mouthwash that he used to take the awful taste out of his mouth.

"I'm ready!" Harry called.

Severus came back into the room and helped Harry to stand. They shuffled back to the bedroom and Harry gratefully dropped back into the bed.

"Wow! That was work!" Harry admitted.

"You'll be feeling much better by tomorrow," Severus said. "You're on the mend and another day will make a big difference."

"Is there anything to eat?" Harry asked. "I think I could manage something."

"There are tins of soup, if you don't mind that," Severus replied.

"When I was a kid, tinned soup was a feast," Harry admitted. "Sure. Whatever is there will be fine."

Severus frowned. "I'll heat something up, then," he said.

"Wake me, please, if I'm asleep," Harry requested. "I do know that eating helps with recovery, from all my time in the Infirmary at Hogwarts."

"I will do that," Severus replied.

Harry had not quite fallen back asleep by the time Severus returned. He had a tray with a large, covered mug on it. He helped Harry sit up to a better position.

"Chicken noodle!" Harry grinned. "Good choice!"

"It seemed adequate," Severus said. "Eat while it's still hot."

"No heating charms?" Harry asked as he started on the soup. "Although a mug is easier."

"No magic until at least tomorrow," Severus said. "And maybe not until the day after."

"If you need to go out and get anything, go ahead," Harry said. "It has to be boring eating out of tins for several days. I should be fine for an hour or two, if you want."

"Since it's Christmas Day, there won't be any shops open," Severus said. "I will be fine."

"Christmas! Already?" Harry gasped.

"Were you expected anywhere?" Severus asked. "Will your friends be looking for you?"

"Not this year." Harry shook his head. "The Weasleys are in France with Fleur's family, Andromeda and Teddy were going to the Malfoys, and Neville was going to Hannah's family for the day. I was welcome to go to the Malfoys, but hadn't decided if I wanted to go there."

Another frown. "Eat as much of the soup as you can and I'll go out and see if there are any nearby shops that might be open," Severus said. "We can have our own Christmas celebration here."

"Sounds good," Harry said.

He ate about half of the soup and then lay back, tired again.

"Go back to sleep," Severus directed, taking the mug from Harry. "I'll go out while you sleep some more."

"Okay," Harry agreed, snuggling down into the bed.


It was dark outside when Harry woke again. Severus was sitting in a corner of the room, reading until a lamp.

"What are you reading?" Harry asked.

"Interestingly enough, Beetle the Bard." Severus held up the book.

"Were you reading to me?" Harry asked. "I don't know what you were reading, but I remember your voice."

"I had heard that reading to comatose patients was helpful," Severus nodded. "I assumed it could do no harm."

"It was... good," Harry said. "Thank you for doing that."

Severus stood. "I have Thai take-away, if you think you can eat something solid."

"I can try," Harry said. "Any chance you'll let me out of bed for dinner?"

"I think you should be up to that," Severus said. "Give me a few minutes to get it set up and I'll come back and get you."

"And maybe some pants?" Harry grinned. "Not used to nightshirts."

"Let me see what I can find," Severus said. "There aren't a lot of options."

"Or at least a bathrobe," Harry suggested. "Anything so it's not quite so... drafty."

Severus smirked. "Let me see what there is."

Harry lay back in the bed, feeling relatively awake for the moment. He pushed the covers back and sat on the edge of the bed to wait for Severus.

"Eager, aren't we?" Severus said, when he saw Harry sitting up.

"Yes!" Harry laughed.

"All right," Severus said. He handed Harry a bathrobe and socks. "It's the best there is in the house."

"Better than nothing," Harry allowed. Severus had to help him with the socks.

He held out his hand, to help Harry up. Harry was moving slightly better than earlier, and they moved into the hall. Harry grabbed the bannister to guide himself down the stairs. They stopped at the bottom, to take a small break.

Harry was thankful that Severus had set up dinner in the dining room and not all the way down in the basement kitchen. He dropped into a chair at the table.

Severus set out the various dishes and pointed out the choices.

"Nothing here is too spicy," Severus said. "And don't feel obligated to eat too much."

"I suspect I'll only manage a few bites," Harry agreed. "Just feels good to move around for a bit."

True to his word, Harry ate only a small portion of the food Severus had obtained. But he did enjoy it and said so to Severus.

"Okay, then, back to bed," Severus directed. "You won't be up to doing much for a couple more days. Maybe a week."

"A week!" Harry groaned.

"I suspect someone will look for you soon," Severus replied.

Harry shrugged. "It'll be closer to the New Year before anyone notices I've not been around."


"You can call me Harry, you know," Harry said. "Seeing that you've seen me naked and all. And, it's true. I don't have that many friends, and they have their own lives."

"Surely, there are others who care," Severus replied.

"Oh, sure," Harry said softly. "There are lots of people who would become friends -- to be seen with the fucking Boy Who Lived, or to get at my money. It makes it hard."

"Then, perhaps -- Harry -- we can be friends," Severus offered. "I'm not exactly a popular person myself and I find myself open to exploring the idea."

Harry smiled.