Chapter 67 : Plague's Hand
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The Weasleys offered Severus and Sarai their sincere congratulations, and Molly said if Sarai had any questions, she would be happy to discuss them, either via firecalling or letters. She gave Sarai several wizarding parent handbooks and said she hoped all would go well with her pregnancy and delivery. Sarai thanked her and after admonishing their children to behave and giving them their doses of restorative water, the newly expecting parents Apparated back to Prince Manor.
The five disobedient children went up to bed, as directed by Molly, but after twenty minutes couldn't sleep, mostly because the three Snape children were too excited over Sarai's news. So they stayed up and cast Silencing Charms over their bedrooms and spoke about the upcoming baby . . . or babies.
"It's so amazing that Sarai is having a baby this soon," Nesmay told Ginny. "Most of my people never have children until months or years later, we fae don't get pregnant easily."
"I think it's wonderful!" Ginny said, lying on her side, facing Nesmay. "Now you can have a little sister or brother to raise."
"I hope it's a girl. Two brothers are about all I can take."
Ginny snickered. "Tell me about it." She rubbed her bottom, grimacing. "I'm sorry I got you into trouble, Nesmay."
"You didn't. I knew we shouldn't take the bikes out, but I chose to follow you instead of my conscience. I broke my word to Severus and the punishment was just." Nesmay told her.
"Thanks for forgiving me, Nesmay. You're a good friend."
"Next time I shall try and persuade you to not listen to your brothers." Nesmay said, grinning.
"Right. Keep in touch and let me know how you're doing, all right? Do you know if you'll be going to Hogwarts next term?"
"I'm . . . not sure. It depends on if I can learn sufficient control over my magic." Nesmay said.
"But that's what you go to school for," Ginny said, confused. "I don't understand."
"Let me explain . . ." Nesmay began, and told her new friend the story of her uncontrollable magic and how she had blown up Ollivander's shop.
Meanwhile, down the hall in the boys' room, Ron told Draco and Harry that they better pray the new baby was a boy. "Believe me when I tell you, mate, you don't want it to be a girl. Girls are nothing but trouble!"
Draco cocked his head. "How so? Your sister doesn't seem all that terrible."
Ron rolled his eyes. "That's because you don't have to live with her. She's the youngest, which means Mum and Dad spoil her. Not only that, but she's so bossy and you can't really deal with her the same way you would a brother, because hitting a girl and rubbing her face in the dirt's just not done. Plus, girls are just plain weird and make no sense half the time. So, start praying for a boy."
"But I think Dad really wants a girl," Harry mused.
"Tell him he can't always get what he wants," Ron said cheekily.
"Why don't you tell him, Weasley?" Draco snorted. "You might have a better chance of surviving."
"No thanks!" Ron blanched. "I'd rather not be made to scrub the floor all summer, or get whacked with his spoon."
"I guess we'll just have to wait and see," Harry said, though secretly he wished for a girl too.
Upon their return to the manor the next morning, Severus took the boys and Sarai back into the faerie realm so Sarai could be examined by Healer Auriane and the children could swim in the Pool of Restoration in the castle grotto.
While the boys and Nesmay soaked in the waters, Healer Auriane placed her hands upon Sarai's stomach, which was barely rounded, and concentrated. A pearly white glow spread out from the fae Healer's fingers and surrounded Sarai. A few moments later the glow died and Auriane stood, a smile coming over her face.
"Lady Sarai, I am pleased to announce that you have two viable fetus' in your womb. They are approximately four months old, give or take two weeks, and look very healthy. Congratulations, you soon shall be a mother."
"Twins?" Severus repeated, dazed. "She's having . . .twins?"
"Indeed, Lord Snape. It's quite rare for a fae-blood, even a half-fae to carry more than one child at a time, but the spell cannot lie. In about four months, you shall be holding your children in your arms. The Bright Ones have blessed you."
"Four months!" exclaimed the Potions Master. "But shouldn't it be five? And how did four months pass without my recalling it?"
"No, for the fae carry a child to term within eight months, that is how our bodies work. It may even be sooner, since twins often come early. As for how old they are, you conceived while within the Unseelie Lands, did you not, my lady? Time flows differently there, especially when tampered with by Jarillion the Cruel. So while you only spent a few weeks there as you understand time, it was actually much longer. Do you see, my lord?"
"Yes . . . I think so." Severus cleared his throat. "So . . . she'll be due in four months?"
"Yes. I shall give you Nutrient Potions with extra calcium in them and I shall come and see you every month to monitor the babies." Auriane said. "You should not use the Gates again till the children are born, it drains away magical strength too much."
"How about sparring with Severus or the boys and Nesmay?"
"You may do so for a few hours, it is good to keep fit. Make sure you eat healthy and rest when you feel tired. You may feel the need to sleep more as your pregnancy progresses. If you feel nauseous, drink raspberry leaf tea, no Stomach Soothers. Try and remain active for as long as possible, it shall make you stronger and the delivery easier." Auriane instructed. "Call me if there is any sudden cramping or bleeding or any pain. Other than that, you should be fine. The Queen shall be delighted to hear the good news, as will the rest of the court."
In the Seelie Court, children were cherished, and an impending birth was a thing to be celebrated, because it was so rare in the long-lived race.
The boys and Nesmay emerged from the pool, and Healer Kellin cast a monitoring charm over them to see how much dark residue was left within them. To his surprise, it was less than he had thought, and he told them that they need only return to the grotto three more times, as they were mending faster than expected.
Draco, Harry, and Nesmay were surprised to find out that Sarai was having twins, but then Draco said that was good, because they could have a little sister and a brother.
"Or maybe two sisters," Nesmay said.
"Or two brothers," Harry added.
"Whatever we have, all I care about is that they're healthy and so is Sarai," Severus said, and hugged his wife.
Severus opted to wait before using the timeclock, he wished the boys to finish their course of healing soaks in the grotto before sending them back in time to the beginning of the summer. It was the last week of July, and though the children were still under their groundings, Severus allowed Draco and Nesmay to accompany him to Diagon Alley to shop for Harry's birthday presents.
They left before Harry woke, Severus wanted to get an early start, and Harry woke to find Draco and Nesmay gone and when he went downstairs to get breakfast, only saw Sarai sitting at the table, nursing a cup of tea and eating a few pieces of toast and a hardboiled egg.
Cafall lay beside her chair, and wagged his tail happily when Harry entered. "Morning, Sarai. Where's Draco and Nesmay?"
"Good morning, Harry. They're with your father, I believe they went to Diagon Alley."
"They did? But why didn't they wake me?" Harry asked, feeling left out.
"Because the purpose of this trip was to buy birthday presents."
"Birthday presents?" Harry repeated. His brain was still half-asleep. "Oh!" He exclaimed, understanding now. He had gone for so many years without any that he often forgot he was supposed to get presents on his birthday.
He went and checked the color-coded chore chart posted on the wall of the kitchen, finding that his name had the following chores listed—clean and sort the room in the lefthand wing that's filled with various odds and ends, door will be ajar. That was followed by Help Sarai weed the vegetable garden and Clean up kitchen after supper. Well, that didn't sound too bad.
Harry went and made himself a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, eating that plus some fried potatoes and a merlinna. He drank a glass of milk with his breakfast, then rose to his feet. "I'm going to start on this room, Dad wants me to clean and sort it."
"Yes, he told me to tell you to just put things in piles and he will throw out what is junk and put the rest of it away. Meantime, I shall be gathering a few herbs for him to make some potions." Sarai said. She frowned, knowing there was something else she was supposed to give to Harry. "Ah! I almost forgot. Here is your restorative cordial." She handed Harry a small potion vial.
He nodded and drank it down.
Sarai stood and whistled for Cafall to follow, the half-grown dog happily bounded along beside her as she went out the back door to the garden.
Harry started down the hall, absently tucking the empty potion bottle into the pocket of his pajama bottoms. He decided not to dress, for he was sure to get dusty and he wanted to take a shower afterwards, no sense in getting two sets of clothing dirty.
When he entered the room, he found it was cluttered with all manner of boxes, bags, and trunks. Some of the items looked ancient and were covered with a thick coating of dust. The contents of some containers overflowed onto the floor. "Holy Merlin!" sighed the boy. "This is going to take all day!"
He Summoned a feather duster and animated it, then waited, covering his nose and mouth with his sleeve, for the duster to clear away the worst of the dust before he tackled the pile. Though he technically was not allowed to use magic outside of school, at the manor he could get away with it, since the Ministry couldn't penetrate the wards about the place and Severus had given him permission.
Once the dust was removed, Harry could begin sorting. He pulled over the nearest box and began to analyze its contents. Books went in one pile, broken quills and empty ink bottles in another, odds and ends he didn't know what to call in yet another. He found several old potion bottles, some half-full of elixirs, and made a separate pile for those. He made a fifth pile for clothing—cloaks, shirts, boots. Some of the clothes looked moth eaten, others looked as if they had just come out of Madam Malkins. Those he suspected were enchanted.
He used the first box to toss all the trash into.
He found all manner of curious things in the room as he sorted—magical toys, bits and pieces of gears and bolts, a broken chair, something that looked like a wig, a cracked mirror, even some jewelry. He paused to rest after an hour, and went back to the kitchen for a drink.
The room was now halfway done, and when Harry returned he spotted a large rolled up rug with a tag sticking on it. He read the tag. Aliman's Flying Carpet! Will take you anywhere your heart desires, simply sit on it and say fly me away. Not meant for children under eleven.
"A flying carpet!" Harry grinned.
He couldn't resist trying it out.
He unrolled the rug, it had a pattern of birds, camels, and castles on it and was brightly colored. Then he sat crosslegged on it, like Aladdin, and said, "Fly me away!"
The rug quivered and then rose into the air and hovered about ten feet above the floor. Harry tried directing it as though it were a broom. The carpet shot off, zipping about the room.
At first it was fun, but then Harry tried to get it to land so he could continue his chore, his father would not be pleased if he came home and found Harry playing with a magic carpet instead of working, and found he couldn't figure out the command to make the rug stop flying.
The carpet kept right on flying. If anything, it flew faster. "No! No! Slow down!"
The carpet rounded a corner, flew up almost to the ceiling and then flipped over.
Harry yelled, terrified he was going to fall off. The rug righted itself and began circling again. He pounded on it with a fist. "Stop! You stupid rug, stop! You're out of control!"
The carpet nose-dived towards the floor, pulled up at the last second, stalled in mid air, then tilted to one side.
Harry fell off, landing with a thud on his behind and hip on the floor.
He felt something break beneath him and then a sudden sharp pain shot through him. "OWW!"
Only then did he remember the potion vial in his pocket.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the traitorous rug roll up and land innocently on the floor.
"Bloody carpet!" Harry swore. He felt as if a thousand needles were stabbing him.
The sound of the crash and his cry of pain soon brought Sarai to investigate.
"Harry, what happened?"
Blushing, Harry said, "The carpet bucked me off and I . . . sat on the potion bottle in my pocket. I think I've got glass stuck in my bum."
Sarai knelt and gently rolled Harry over onto his stomach. "I'm afraid so, child."
Some five minutes later, Harry was bent over the kitchen table, whimpering and gritting his teeth, while his stepmother removed the glass shards from his hip and buttock.
He wished he could die, he felt so embarrassed. Sarai had given him a Pain Reliever and numbed the area somewhat with a spell before getting some tweezers and extracting the shards, but he could still feel twinges of pain as she tugged a shard loose.
"Be still, Harry. I'm almost finished."
"I was so stupid! I should have known that's why the dumb carpet was left in there, because it was a piece of junk," Harry groaned, flinching.
"Sometimes, Harry, the best teacher is experience. I'm sure you'll remember this and not be so foolish again."
"I won't! Ahh . . .Sarai, have you done this before?"
The warrior chuckled. "Many times, Harry. When Prince Balin came of age, his greatest ambition was to celebrate in all the alehouses and taverns throughout the kingdom. I was his Blade, and charged with keeping him safe. Unfortunately, not even my vigilance could keep him safe from himself, and many times he became involved in barroom brawls, where bottles of heather ale or summerdew were broken over my wild prince's head or backside. Or chairs. So I have plenty of practice pulling splinters of wood and glass out of scalps and backsides. A good thing too, else this would hurt more."
A minute later Sarai was finished; she sponged off the blood and then she applied some disinfectant potion to the cuts, warning Harry it was going to hurt.
At first, Harry felt nothing, for the numbing spell was still working. Then all at once he howled, for his backside and hip felt like it were engulfed in flames, his feet drumming on the floor.
Sarai rubbed his back soothingly. "I'm sorry, son. 'Twill pass, child. 'Twill pass."
Cafall began barking and howling also, thinking Sarai was deliberately hurting his master.
"Cafall, hush! He'll be all right. Down!" she ordered, for the dog had jumped up on the table and was licking Harry's cheek, whining worriedly.
But he got down when Sarai pointed, sitting on the floor, his expression troubled.
Harry gasped, tears streaming from his eyes. Finally the awful stinging abated, and Sarai smoothed on a Wound Healing paste and gently Stuck a bandage over the cuts. "There! Why don't you lie down, Harry? The salve will take an hour to mend those cuts. I'll tell your dad what happened, and you can finish your chores later."
She helped Harry to his feet and stroked his hair. Harry leaned into her for a moment. It was strange, but he now felt more at ease with the warrior than before. She had shown herself to be both competent and compassionate, he found he trusted her to help him. He allowed her to lead him to bed, lying on his stomach.
Sarai arranged the covers over him and murmured, "Sleep well, Harry."
Harry buried his face in the pillow, and an instant later felt a warm tongue lave his cheek, as Cafall curled up beside the bed. Harry trailed his hand over the hound's back, than fell fast asleep.
"He did what?" Severus repeated, one eyebrow rising. "I cannot believe he would do something so . . . irresponsible. I have told him a thousand times to never put potion vials or his wand in his back pocket. Or to play with magical items without checking with me first." The professor shook his head disappointedly. "He always has to learn everything the hard way."
"Nevertheless, he regrets his actions and doesn't need you reprimanding him, Severus. He just needs your understanding."
"Where is he? How is he feeling?"
"Asleep in his room. The cuts should be mended by supper or earlier."
"Good. I shall speak to him after he wakes." He turned to look at Draco and Nesmay. "Nesmay, will you put the presents in my room? You can help wrap them after you've weeded the vegetable patch. Draco, would you mind finishing up the room that Harry was working on? Don't worry about your other chores, you can do them tomorrow or the next day."
"All right, Dad." Draco agreed.
"Yes, sir." Nesmay took the packages and walked down the hall to Severus and Sarai's bedroom.
Severus looked at his wife. "Are you feeling all right?"
"I am fine. A little tired, but otherwise I am well. This pregnancy seems to agree with me so far."
Her husband smiled at her. "Hopefully it continues to be so. I spoke with Ollivander today and he has agreed to allow the boys to return to the shop and assist him for five more days, and that will repay the damage Nesmay did."
"Good. I have placed the herbs you needed in your lab."
"Thank you. I shall begin brewing the teas immediately. Go take a nap."
"I'm not tired. Don't become all overprotective now, Severus. I know when I need to rest."
"Since when? You're the template for a woman who works too much."
"That is the cauldron calling the kettle black," Sarai shot back.
"True, but I am not the one with child."
Sarai's eyes narrowed. "Don't even go there, Snape. I am no helpless maiden."
"I never said you were. All I meant was that you need to be careful not to overexert yourself." Severus protested.
"I shall be. Get to your lab and brew, my Lord Snape, before you really put your boot in your mouth," his wife said. Then she kissed him lightly before removing her two long knives from her belt and beginning to polish them.
Severus wisely obeyed. Auriane had warned him that pregnant women tended to get emotional over the least things during the fourth and fifth months, it had to do with hormonal shifts. He went to his lab to begin brewing some of the herbal blends that Auriane had recommended Sarai drink, as well as a cauldron of Cough Elixir and some Extra Strength Fever Reducers, since he needed to restock his medicine cabinet.
"Poor Harry!" Nesmay murmured to Draco as she went out the back door to weed the garden. "That must have been painful."
"Yes, but it was probably more embarrassing for him," Draco commented. "I would have been mortified if Sarai had to . . . um . . . remove glass from my backside."
Nesmay looked puzzled. "Draco, can you explain why you mortals are so . . . uncomfortable with your bodies around women? I don't understand. Among my people, we see our bodies as things to be . . . admired and a natural state . . .I mean, there are a few obvious differences, but . . . you act like you're ashamed of them. And you really shouldn't be."
Draco coughed. "Err . . . maybe you ought to ask Severus those questions?"
"No! He will only say that such questions are improper. Why can't you answer them?"
Draco sighed. "I . . . guess I can. But later. Right now I'd better finish this up."
Nesmay stuck her tongue out at him. "You're not getting rid of me that easily, Draco. Tonight I'm coming to your room and you'd better have an answer for me, or else I'll . . . I'll embarrass you in front of Hermione!"
"Why, you sneaky little blackmailer!" He shook his finger at her. "Damn, but you'd have made a good Slytherin, you wretched girl."
"That's what comes of dealing with the likes of Malchiar, big brother." Nesmay smirked, then she darted outside.
"Incorrigible brat!" muttered the Slytherin. Then he made his way to the room Harry had been sorting.
Forewarned about the carpet, Draco quickly placed it in what he labeled Miscellaneous Objects. He then tackled the rest of the pile. In an hour and a half, he had almost finished the room. He only had a single trunk left to go through. He opened it and found several old linens, which smelled rather moldy and he tossed them into the scrap pile. There was a small oblong box that was locked, frowning, Draco cast an Unlocking Charm.
Upon opening the chest he saw a medium sized pearlescent globe. He picked it up and felt it grow warm, and then he sneezed, for there was something about the globe that triggered his sneezing reflex. At first Draco thought it a standard seeing globe, but when he went to set it back in the chest, the globe suddenly crumbled to dust.
"Huh? What the hell happened?" Draco stared down at the white glittery powder, dismayed. "Oh, well. Whatever it is, it's gone now." He put the chest in the Miscellaneous pile.
Dusting off his hands, he rose to his feet, task completed.
He headed into the bathroom, ready to take a shower, and on the way he stopped by Harry's room to see how he was doing. He found Harry still asleep, one hand hanging off the side of the bed. Draco reached over and picked up Harry's arm, placing it on the bed.
Cafall thumped his tail and whined, he was now sprawled on the bed, on top of Harry's feet.
"Hey, boy. Keeping my little brother company? I'll come play with you after my shower, all right?"
The misthound barked softly, his ears perking up. He was ready to get some exercise, having lain beside Harry for over two hours.
"Wait here, Cafall," Draco ordered and went away.
About ten minutes later, Draco returned and Cafall followed. They played outside until lunch, Draco threw sticks for the dog to retrieve and hid treats for the misthound to find. Once he had tired the frisky hound out, Draco returned to the house, where he ate lunch with Sarai and Nesmay. Harry was still sleeping, and Severus busy brewing and couldn't be interrupted.
Sarai had made a tasty strawberry salad, with produce gathered from their garden, and also bread with butter.
Severus came in from his lab, his brewing finished, and asked if Harry was awake yet.
"No, he's still asleep," answered his wife. "Are you hungry?"
"Yes." He accepted the plate she handed him and served himself some salad and bread.
After he had finished eating, he went to check on his son.
Nesmay dragooned Draco into helping her wrap Harry's birthday presents, and Sarai asked Smidgen to deliver a message to her parents telling them they were about to become grandparents.
Severus entered Harry's room on cat's feet, and stood by his son's bed. The boy slept, looking peaceful. Severus gently smoothed back the hair on his son's forehead and whispered, "Harry, Harry. Will you ever stop finding trouble? At this rate my hair will be white before you're of age."
The professor gently drew back the covers and Harry's pajama bottoms to examine his son. There were no marks, the salve had healed all the cuts. Sarai had done a good job, he thought, replacing everything. Not that he doubted her skill, she had a soldier's knowledge of field medicine, and some two hundred years of experience besides, but he felt better making sure his son was healing properly.
Just as he was about to turn and leave, Harry woke. "Dad? Is that you?"
"Yes. How are you feeling?"
Harry picked up his glasses and put them on, then slowly shifted and sat up. "I'm all right now," he said, relief in his tone. Then he dropped his eyes and muttered, "I guess Sarai told you how stupid I was, huh?"
"She did. I trust you understand now why I stress never put a potion vial or anything even remotely breakable in your back pocket?"
"Yes." Harry said ruefully. His stomach rumbled. "I'm hungry, what time is it?"
"We have just finished lunch. Why don't you go and eat?"
Harry hurried down to the kitchen, where Sarai was washing up, and made himself a sandwich. He was relieved his father hadn't yelled at him for his idiocy. He had learned his lesson for good this time.
Harry was washing up the dishes after supper, which Severus had cooked that night, when Draco gently teased him, saying, "Be careful, little brother, and don't drop any plates. You might slip and fall and you want to be able to sit down, now don't you?"
Harry shot him a dirty look. "Real funny, Draco."
The Slytherin smirked. Then he told Harry he was going to take a nap, he was tired after finishing the room Harry had been working on. "If I didn't know better, I'd say you deliberately got glass in your ass to get out of finishing that room."
"Bite me, Draco," Harry snapped, and flicked a wet dish cloth at him.
Draco ducked and escaped down the hallway. Once he reached his room, he went to lie down. His head was throbbing and he felt a bit dizzy. He thought about getting a Headache Remedy from the bathroom cabinet, but was too lazy to get up. It would probably go away once he slept some. And if he were sleeping, he could avoid answering Nesmay's questions. He shut his eyes and within moments was asleep.
Harry and Nesmay were scrubbing cauldrons in the lab, it was part of their punishment chores. Actually, that night it was Draco's turn to scrub cauldrons, but Harry was doing it because Draco had finished his work that afternoon. Harry never minded scrubbing cauldrons, he was quite good at it, and Draco detested it.
All of a sudden, he put a hand to his head.
Nesmay, ever alert, saw and asked, "What's wrong? Does your scar hurt?"
"No, it hasn't hurt since . . . Voldemort was killed. I just have a bit of a headache and I'm a little dizzy."
"Maybe you ought to sit down."
"Nah. I'm almost done." Harry finished rinsing his cauldron, then made his way carefully upstairs.
"All finished?" asked his father when he appeared in the den.
"Yes, sir. But I'm feeling sort of . . . tired and I have a bit of a headache. I'm going to turn in early." Harry told him.
Severus peered at him. "You look pale. Do you need a Headache Remedy?"
Harry thought about it. "Umm . . . okay." He went down the hall to the bathroom and took a vial and drank it down. Then he went into his room. He shivered suddenly and went to close the half-open window now that Hedwig was inside for the night upon her perch. He gave the sleepy owl a scratch on the neck before changing his clothes and getting into fresh nightwear. Then he went to lay on his bed. He still felt chilled, and he pulled up the covers to his chin and drifted into a doze.
Nesmay came down the hall into the den. "Where's Harry and Draco?"
"I think they both went to bed early. They seem to be somewhat under the weather," Severus replied. "Did you lock up the lab?"
"Yes, Severus. Will you play Wizard Chess with me? Or Dragon's Wild?"
He set down his potions periodical. "If you'd like. Sarai, care to join us?"
Sarai yawned. "I'm a little sleepy, Sev. I think I'll just sit here in front of the fire."
"As you wish. Nesmay, set up the board."
They played chess until Nesmay lost for the third time, she actually lasted longer than her brothers, but in the end Severus checkmated her. When Nesmay would have played a fourth game, Severus shook his head.
"Another time, child. I'm developing a headache, I think I had better retire also." He massaged his temples, figuring he had done too much and that was why he too had a headache. He Summoned a Headache Remedy and swallowed it, then went to his bedroom.
Bored, Nesmay decided to take a walk about the grounds. Unlike her brothers and foster father, she could see quite well in the dark, a trait she had inherited from her fae mother.
An hour later she returned to the manor, feeling a little tired and achy herself. She decided to see if Draco was awake and slipped into his room.
But he was still sleeping. Sighing impatiently, she leaned over to wake him, determined to get the answers to her earlier questions. It was then she noticed that he was shivering wildly and whimpering. "Draco? Draco, are you sick?"
The blond boy groaned and opened his eyes. "Nesmay? I . . . don't feel so good. I feel like I'm freezing to death and my back and neck hurt."
"You must have caught some kind of . . . wizard flu. I'll get Sarai."
The girl raced down the hall to the den, where Sarai was dozing peacefully in front of the fire. She hated to wake the other woman, but knew this was an emergency. She gently shook Sarai's shoulder and called, "Sarai, wake up! Draco's sick."
The warrior was instantly awake, one hand reaching for her sword. But then she recalled she was in her own home and there was no danger. "Nesmay? What is it?"
"Draco's sick. He's shivering like crazy and said he's achy and I think he may have a fever."
"Hmm. I'll see what Severus says to give him," Sarai said, she was not as well-versed in healing potions as her husband.
"Sev?" she called softly as she entered their room. It was dim, for her husband hadn't bothered to turn on all the lights. She quickly muttered "Lumos!" and the lights came on to reveal Severus tossing and turning, shivering as well. "Sun, Moon, and Stars! Don't tell me you're sick too!" She bent and shook Severus awake.
The lean Potions Master woke instantly, his hand reaching for his wand. "Sarai?" he asked, his voice hoarse.
"Draco is sick and I wanted to know if I should give him a Fever Reducer and some Pain Reliever?"
"What are his symptoms?" asked Severus.
"Nesmay said he complained about freezing and that his back and neck hurt. It would seem you have caught it as well."
Severus grimaced, he so hated being sick. "Obviously. Give him the Fever Reducer and Pain Reliever and make sure he drinks plenty of water. I can dose myself." He started to get out of bed.
"No, Sev. Stay there. I'll have Nesmay bring you the potions and some water." His wife ordered firmly.
Then she went to fetch the potions.
Draco felt awful, he was hardly ever sick, and he took the potions eagerly, hoping to be better by tomorrow. Nesmay brought Severus his, then went to see how Harry was faring.
"Oh no!" she gasped upon finding Harry shivering violently and complaining of aches and pains as well. "You're all sick!"
"What do you mean?" Harry asked blearily.
"I mean you, Draco, and Severus have all caught whatever-this-is." Nesmay told him. "Sarai and I are the only ones who haven't."
"Better stay away from me then," warned Harry.
"You need potions too." Nesmay said, and went to fetch some.
Once Harry had taken them, she went to inform Sarai that all three wizards weetre ill. "It's a good thing Severus brewed up fresh batches of potions," the girl said.
"Yes. How do you feel, Nesmay?" Sarai asked.
"A little tired but I don't have a headache and I'm not freezing."
"Why don't you go to bed early, just in case? I don't need you coming down with this also." Sarai ordered firmly. "I shall ask Smidgen to monitor the boys and I shall watch Sev."
Nesmay hesitated, then agreed, not wanting to make things harder for Sarai. "You get some sleep too," she said. "The last thing we need is for you to get sick."
"Just so, little hedgehog." She hugged Nesmay before sending her off to bed.
There was something about the symptoms of this disease that nagged at her, but she couldn't put a finger on why. It seemed to be extremely contagious though, considering that all three wizards had fallen ill in less than twenty-four hours. She was puzzled as to why Nesmay had not, but the girl displayed no symptoms. Then again, the fae were not normally prey to sickness, and Nesmay took after Aislinn a great deal.
Sarai started to get into bed with Severus, who was sleeping restlessly, but then decided to sleep on the sofa, just in case. "Smidgen," she called softly.
The shimmerling appeared in an eyeblink, hovering before her. :Lady Sarai, what is wrong?:
"I need you to monitor Harry and Draco, Smidgen. They and Severus have come down with a wizard illness and I wish to make certain they don't need anything during the night. Would you mind helping me?"
:Not at all. Poor things! Mortals are so prone to diseases. Oh, before I forget, your parents send their congratulations and love, and your mother tells me to tell you that you are in her thoughts and prayers often and she is looking forward to having grandchildren to spoil.:
"Thank you, Smidgen." Sarai said gratefully. "Would you like a bite to eat before your vigil?"
Sarai placed tiny pieces of sausage and some milk with honey in Smidgen's saucers and the shimmerling ate her fill. Then she gave herself a brief wash and then blinked away to Draco's room, as he was the most ill, she decided to stay in his room, and monitor Harry by dreamscape. The shimmerling settled down atop Draco's desk, purring and eyeing the young wizard in concern.
Some three hours later, Sarai woke and padded into her bedroom to check on Severus. She could hear the man's teeth chattering from all the way across the room and quickly crossed to him. She gently lay a hand upon his forehead and winced. "Damn! Sev, you're burning up."
Severus opened his eyes then. "Sarai? You shouldn't be here. You might catch this too and you can't afford to get sick."
"Severus, I have a higher resistance to disease than you."
"No! If I infect you and something happens to the babies . . ." He half-tried to get up, but Sarai pushed him down.
"Lie down, Sev! You're in no condition to go anywhere. Take this." She handed him a green vial. "Try and relax, I'm going to see about Draco and Harry, they're sick too."
Severus swore, but he was too sick to really work up a temper, and he was so exhausted he doubted if he could stand right then. "Sarai, take care."
"I will. Now sleep, beloved. Sleep is the best medicine." She gently kissed his fevered brow before departing.
Severus sank into sleep, but his dreams were unpleasant.
The half-fae warrior started towards the boys' room, and no sooner had she done so, then Smidgen sent to her that Draco was worse and so was Harry. :I'm coming.: Sarai sent back.
Draco was tossing and turning in the grip of a very high fever, Sarai could tell he was worse off than Severus because he was flushed and his skin had a strange unhealthy yellowish tinge to it. He was moaning softly, his blond hair drenched with sweat, yet his fever refused to break.
Sarai shook him awake. "Draco, wake up. You need to swallow this potion."
"No . . . I'm so hot . . .so hot . . ."
"I know. Come on, drink." She urged, gently tipping the potion into his mouth. She then gave him water and bathed his face and neck with a cool cloth. He seemed to rest a bit easier afterwards, though his breathing was raspy.
She then gave the same treatment to Harry, noting that he was slightly less worse than Draco, but still quite ill. His sheets were soaked with sweat and his eyes glassy with fever. Sarai managed to get him out of bed long enough to change both sheets and pajamas and then let him rest.
:Smidgen, do you recognize any of these symptoms? Can you tell me what disease this is?:
The fae cat perched on her shoulder and gave a soft mew of distress. :Regrettably, I cannot. Though I was there when many plagues and the like swept through the mortal world, this matches none of those I witnessed. And as I said, there were many of them, too many for me to keep track of.:
"I understand. But this plague seems so familiar to me. As if I read about it before, but I can't remember where. Perhaps my mother told me about it? No, she was no witch, but a noblewoman." Sarai mused, cudgeling her brain.
:I shall return to keep watch, lady. You ought to rest, before you fall ill yourself.: Then Smidgen blinked away.
Sarai knew Smidgen was right, but how could she rest when her husband and sons were so ill? She forced herself to return to the sofa, but even curled up beneath a blanket in front of the fire did not serve to make her sleepy. This was not an enemy she was used to fighting. It was faceless, nameless, and yet it threatened those she loved in the worst way. Give her an honest orc or frost giant or UnSeelie any day of the week over this bloody plague!
She absently rubbed a hand over her middle, and murmured, "At least two of you are safe. I hope."
She blinked and yawned, rubbing her eyes. When she opened them again, a slightly misty figure dressed in the fashion of the Seelie Court centuries ago was standing before her, he had long black hair and emerald eyes, which were almond shaped and slightly pointed ears peeked out from beneath his hair.
Greetings, Lady Sarai Kinsalari Snape. My name is Sev Prince, and I am the Guardian of Prince Manor. Forgive me for not introducing myself sooner, but when one dwells between two realms, it is easy to lose track of the hours. Welcome, lady to the family. The ghost gave her a courtly bow.
"You are the first Prince, the one who wandered all over the mortal realm and that of faerie. Severus speaks very highly of you."
Yes, and I am pleased by it. But that is not the only reason I have come to you tonight. Normally, I do not interfere much with my descendants, as they are free to make their own choices and mistakes, but in this case, I must, before lives are lost. I know the plague that has stricken down Severus, Harry, and young Draco. Once it was widespread across the wizarding world, found in Britain, Scotland, Europe, even Russia. It was known as the golden plague, and before a cure was found, brought death to one in five wizards and witches. It bred one of the worst magical epidemics ever known, and wiped out whole families before several talented Healers developed a vaccine for it. Those who survived were usually those who bore a train of fae blood in them, for the fae are, as you well know, immune to disease.
"Then I cannot contract this? Or Nesmay?"
No. Your fae blood predominates, and as such, renders you immune. The symptoms of the golden plague are as follows—headache, violent chills, sharp pains in the back, neck, shoulders, followed by a high fever with sweating yet the fever does not break. The skin begins to turn a golden color, indicating the wizard's liver functions are being compromised as well as their magical core. Exhaustion predominates and if not brought down, the fever can cause convulsions, blindness, and death. The first twenty-four hours are crucial.
"Where can I obtain this vaccine? Do you know the formula for the potion?"
Alas, no. I was not privy to that information, I was a wandering bard, not a Healer. I know only that a cure was found and it was what finally defeated this dreadful malady. Sev Prince looked sorrowful and grave. Might I suggest asking a Healer in Titania's court?
"Yes, of course! I shall do so immediately!" Sarai exclaimed. She then called Smidgen through the mindlink and asked her to please find Healer Auriane and tell her that the Snape family had contracted the golden plague and needed the vaccine for it, or else they could die.
Once Smidgen had gone, Sarai wondered how she was going to monitor all three wizards, until Sev offered his expertise. Sarai supposed she could manage until Smidgen returned with the Healer.
Hours passed, and Sarai dozed, her sleep fitful, broken by frequent trips to examine Severus, Draco, and Harry.
Out of all of them, Draco was the worst, he hallucinated and burned like a furnace, his body coated with a foul-smelling sweat, and raved about being in hell with his father and mother, and he pleaded over and over, "I'm not the Death Eater's son! I'm not the Death Eater's son!"
His skin began to take on the golden pigment the Prince ghost had warned about. Sarai could do nothing save hold his hand and speak soothingly to him. She tried to dose him again with a Fever Reducer, but he sputtered and choked on it.
She prayed to the Bright Lord and Lady that Auriane would be in time. Draco seemed to be progressing far faster than Harry and Severus. Sarai speculated that might be because the Malfoy's weren't as closely related to their fae ancestors by blood. She recalled with chilling preciseness that Sev Prince had told her that only those with fae blood had survived.
She began to pace up and down the hall, trying to relieve her anxiety, the minutes ticking away in her head. Her hand clenched and unclenched as she wished she could take away the pain and sickness from her family.
Finally, she decided to return to Severus's side, as she could not get the plague, and that was when she heard a loud thump, as of something—or someone—falling.
"Sev!" she called, racing into the room.
Severus was sitting on the floor, his eyes glazed and bright with fever. His hair was plastered to his head and he struggled to his feet, his skin beginning to turn gold. "Get out!" he rasped. "Save yourself! I must . . . find the children!"
"Sev, stop," she told the delirious wizard, pushing him back towards the bed. "Lie down. The children are safe. I'm safe. Now get back in bed."
He fought her for a moment, his mouth creasing stubbornly. "Need to help . . ."
"You can help best by lying down. Are you hurt?"
"No. What . . . are you doing?" he asked, confused.
"That's a question you should be answering." Sarai muttered. "You're sick, Severus. You need to rest. That's right. Lie down."
"Don't feel right . . . my head hurts . . . dizzy . . ." he mumbled, swaying back and forth.
She managed to get him to sit down, and after a few more moments, to lie back as well. When she finally got him horizontal and the covers tucked about him, she sighed. "You're as bad a patient as any of your sons, Severus Snape," she grumbled.
"Harry! Draco! Where . . .?"
She immediately placed both hands on his shoulders. "No, you're not getting up. Stay in bed! I'll sit on you if I have to. Understand? Harry and Draco are sleeping. Sleeping."
A flicker of comprehension lit the dark eyes. "Sleeping . . . safe . . . not hurt?"
"They're safe," she reassured. "Rest, Sev. Rest so you can get better."
He heaved a sigh, then began to shiver violently. "Cold . . . so cold . . . in the Wastelands . . ."
She went and got a wet cool cloth from the bathroom and sponged him down as his teeth chattered. He was hot enough that the water barely cooled his skin. She continued to run the cool cloth over him, while he tossed his head from side to side and groaned about how cold he was and then how hot. His body was fighting the disease, but it wasn't enough. She crawled into bed, holding him, and whispered, "Severus, fight this . . . please . . ." She was petrified he might die.
"Lady Sarai . . ." a soft voice called in the fae tongue.
"Healer Auriane, I'm in here . . .!" she called back in the same tongue.
Auriane appeared in the doorway, carrying a familiar white leather satchel. "My apologies, it took longer to brew than I had figured." The Healer came over to the bed and said quickly, "It appears he's reached the crisis stage. Here, help me sit him up."
Together, they got Severus into a sitting position, and Auriane put the vial to his lips and urged him to swallow.
"Can't . . ." he rasped. "Hurts . . ."
"You must. Only a little, Sev." Sarai whispered. "For me."
His eyes refocused on her. "Sarai . . ." He swallowed.
The potion worked fast, soothing his inflamed throat, and he swallowed readily after that first dose.
Once the vial was empty, Auriane said, "If we were in time, his fever should break in a few moments. At this stage, the cure can tip the scales."
"Why is this disease progressing so quickly?"
"It does that in adults. His body is fighting it, and because of his fae blood, it hastens the process." The Healer put two fingers on Severus' neck, counting silently.
Suddenly, Severus shuddered, and then the golden tinge faded and a cool sweat broke over him. "There, my lady! It has broken. Feel, he is cool!"
Sarai did, and almost wept in relief. "What now?"
"Wash him off and let him rest. I'll go and see the boys." Auriane said, moving quickly down the hall, leaving Sarai alone to weep silent tears of gratitude over the sleeping wizard.
"I have administered the draft to both of them," Auriane said, as Sarai reached Harry's room. "But it won't take effect as quickly with them, since they aren't at the crisis stage. It could be an hour or so yet before we see any kind of result."
They waited, and Sarai frowned down at Harry, who seemed to be burning up and shivering. "It seems as though he's getting worse. Why?"
"Sometimes they need to get worse before they get better." Auriane said calmly.
Sarai then went into Draco's room. But the blond seemed unchanged, he was unnaturally hot and his breathing was raspy, his skin still that odd golden color. "Auriane, why doesn't he seem to be responding to the potion?"
The Healer frowned. "I do not know. Have you any knowledge where they might have contracted this? This plague was well-night eradicated as of last century. Have there been reports of an outbreak in the papers?"
"No. Not that I know of. They all just became sick suddenly."
"Odd. This disease is passed through touch, an infected person touching another, or touching an object with the plague germs upon it." Auriane told her. "Have they been in contact with any strangers lately?"
"They've been here at the manor, except for today, when Draco, Sev, and Nesmay went shopping . . ."
"Hmm . . . they could have met with someone who is infected that way, but as I said, there have been no new cases of this disease in centuries. . . It would have had to be acquired through some kind of object, as those who survive are immune and cannot spread the infection afterwards."
More time passed, and Harry passed the crisis stage and his fever broke as well.
Sarai breathed again. "He's going to be all right! What of Draco?"
"Still no change."
"Why? He was the first to show symptoms."
Auriane laid her hand upon the still comatose boy. "His magical reserves are almost gone. Do you have a replenishing draft?"
"Yes, Severus keeps them in this cabinet." Sarai rose and went to fetch one from the bathroom.
Once Draco had swallowed it he seemed to rally a little.
"That should help. Odd, though, that he came down with it first and is the last to recover. It's almost as if . . . he was exposed longer or something."
"Can you not give him another dose of the antidote?" a hoarse voice said. "Please, save my child, Healer."
Sarai spun about so fast she nearly gave herself whiplash. There, standing in the doorway looking like death warmed over, was Severus. The gold color was gone from his skin, leaving it parchment pale, and his eyes were bright with the awful knowledge no parent should ever have to accept. "Sev! How did you—"
His hand lifted, and the Medallion of Inheritance flashed in his fist. "This. It woke me, warning that one of my blood was in mortal peril. When I touched it, I knew." He sucked in a breath. "I went . . . to Harry first . . . and removed his . . . so he wouldn't know . . . if . . ." He trailed off, his eyes bleak. Then he made his way to the bed where stricken Draco lay and sat upon it.
Auriane bit her lip, then moved forward and with Severus assisting, poured a second dose of the cordial down the boy's throat. "I have done what I can, Severus Snape. If this fever does not break soon . . ." For an instant, her professional façade cracked, and there were tears in her eyes. "I am sorry."
"I know." Severus hissed, then he moved and pulled the dying child into his arms, holding him close. "Draco, you must fight . . .do not leave me . . .fight . . .Dragon . . . do you hear? You can do it . . . live . . ."
Draco moaned, shaking so hard Sarai feared he would fly to pieces. Severus held him tightly, his face a mask of silent agony. All at once, Draco's eyes opened. He looked straight at Severus and whispered, "Dad, I'm so cold . . . where are you?"
"Here, Dragon. I'm right here."
Sarai came and sat next to Severus, taking Draco's hand in her own. His skin was on fire, but she gripped it tightly. The boy's spirit floated upon a knife edge. "Draco, come back." She tapped into her magic and let a trickle flow into him.
"I'm scared . . . I don't want to be alone . . ."
"You aren't. Come back to us. Can you feel this?" she sent another pulse of magic into him.
"Warm . . . a blue light . . ." he raved.
"Yes . . . now follow the light back . . . come home . . ."
"Come home to us . . ." Severus added, and his own hands glowed with a trickle of magic. He had never felt so helpless. He knew it would not be enough.
The boy's gray eyes burned intently. "I'm coming . . ."
"My lord Snape . . .!" Auriane cried, for the Potions Master was dangerously close to draining his magic core.
All at once Draco spasmed violently, his muscles locked, his back arching.
"No!" Severus howled.
A moment later the boy went limp in his arms.
Severus' heart nearly stopped. "Draco . . ."
"Sev . . . his fever's broken! It's all right . . .!" Sarai hugged him, her eyes swimming with tears.
Severus' hand gently traced his son's cheek. "It's cool . . .damp, but cool . . ."
Draco's eyelids fluttered, he opened them. "Dad . . ." he looked at Severus, then at Sarai. "Mum . . .I've come home . . ." His head sagged against his father's chest and he drifted back to sleep, his body worn from his fight against the golden plague.
"Draco!" Severus called, alarmed.
"Shhh . . . he is sleeping." Auriane reassured him. "He is quite weak, but he'll recover." Then she smiled. "He's a fighter, like his parents."
Severus stared down at his son, whose skin was slowly losing its jaundiced tinge, and whispered, "Thank God." The medallion against his chest was cool. Relief speared him, that his child had been spared, how he knew not. Then he lowered his head and cried, tears spattering like rain drops across Draco's face.
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