"...It was all very nice in the beginning, Narcissa and Lucius were very hospitable...But then Harry got hurt badly," Snape was trying to control his anger. "Going there endangered Harry awfully. There was this curse which was entitled to his presence. It nearly killed him. And then, after the Christmas Dinner, I saw Lucius pointing his wand at him and I'm not sure what he did. I just know that it was something. The unsurity is driving me mad. I need to find out what that curse was,"
"Couldn't you use some spell on Harry to find that out?" Dumbledore asked, concerned. "Nothing really seems to be the matter with him-he is fine. Perhaps you came in the nick of time? Maybe nothing happened at all?"
"Malfoy's expression..." Snape protested.
"...Could be a misinterpretation," Dumbledore suggested, lightly.
Snape sighed. Dumbledore was stubborn and unreasonable most of the time but he really was being rather stupid at the moment.
"Well. As you say," Snape said, grudgingly. Harry suddenly toddled out of his room and fell to the ground.
Snape half-stood to go and pick him up but Dumbledore looked much too smug. He therefore restrained himself by an act of will. Harry looked at the two of them curiously.
"Nape!" He said blankly.
"Yes, come here," Snape said. Harry suddenly sneezed violently and whimpered.
"Nape!" He called again, drooping.
This time Snape did get up. He picked him up. The boy felt limp and oddly warm in his arms.
Harry snuggled up to him, whimpering more, "Nape," he said languidly.
"What's wrong with you?" Snape was worried.
Harry suddenly fell unconscious in his arms, lying very still.
When Harry woke up next, he found himself lying on a soft bed. He could hear angry and worried voices outside the door and he whimpered in distress. He wanted someone, anyone. He wanted Nape.
"...He's just ill, Severus..."
"It's more than an illness! I refuse to let you try and shush matters up. Hear this, Dumbledore, I don't care about your plan anymore-I care for Potter, and I don't give a damn if you want me to-"
"Nape!" Harry sobbed. He felt awful, all weak and sickly. "Napey!"
A tall, dark-haired man came rushing into the room. Harry felt himself being picked up.
"Are you alright?" Snape asked anxiously.
"Na-a-pe..." Harry sobbed. He wanted Nape to make him feel better.
Snape tried his best to calm him down, stroking his hair and murmuring to him. Dumbledore entered the room too.
"Maybe you should check his temperature," he said quietly.
Snape shot Dumbledore a dirty look before complying. Harry squeaked weakly as Snape used magic to find out his temperature.
"It's impossible," the man said, after a while.
"What is it?" Dumbledore inquired.
"One hundred and fifteen-that's what it says. How's that possible?" Snape demanded. He checked the temperature again and again. The reading did not change.
"We need to take him to a Healer!"
Harry's forehead was burning hot and warm tears were dripping from his eyes.
"No, no go," Harry cried when Snape walked towards the door, still holding him.
"I'm here, I'm here. You'll be fine," Snape promised. Harry felt himself go to sleep. He also felt himself burning. He really didn't know what was up with him today.
Snape had given Harry several anti-fever potions...to no avail. The baby's fever increased until he had no choice but to go to a Healer.
Snape felt like his heart was being torn in two. When the Healer finished examining Harry, she turned to him with a very, very grave face.
"Er...I have some...unsettling news, Mr Snape," she said.
Severus didn't look directly into her eyes. He had been dreading this moment...
"Your ward has-according to my examinations-been struck with a very, very Dark spell."
"What?" This time Snape did look at her, his expression puzzled.
"I'm afraid it is very serious. It is called a Dark Flu. A disease which spreads by the intensive use of Dark Magic. Someone seems to have cast it on him-"
Lucius! "A Dark Flu? Will he be fine?"
The Healer sighed deeply. "It really depends, sir. If he has the proper medical treatment he may survive. Otherwise...no one really lives through a Dark Flu..."
Snape felt his throat constrict. "What should I give him?"
The Healer gave Snape a complicated potion to brew. "There is no guarantee it will work, however. Dark Flu cases are extremely rare. The person who must have cast it must be very skilled in the Dark Arts. The potion may seem difficult-you can always ask an apothecary to-"
"I can do it myself." Snape cut through her. "Where is Harry?"
The Healer let him inside the hospital room where Harry was sleeping on a small bed, a checklist lying beside him. The Healer looked depressed and kept murmuring things like "Let's hope for the best..."
Snape had eyes only for Harry and he felt himself holding back a huge wave of emotion. Harry couldn't die, he couldn't.
"I'll kill him!" Snape roared.
"Severus, you can't-"
"He tried to kill him, Dumbledore! He cast the spell!"
"Severus, it's too-"
"Harry-Potter may die!" Snape cried. "If he dies...I don't know what I'm going to do..."
Malfoy took everything away from me...
"I know this is very unsettling for you-"
"YOU KNOW NOTHING! You're just a stupid old man who wants me to calm down even though the matter is deadly serious! I just care about my-" Snape stopped abruptly.
"Your what?" Dumbledore's eyes flashed. "Not son, surely? You and I are both aware that Lily married James,"
Snape knew that Dumbledore was trying to provoke him into hating Harry again, into not caring about him because he was James Bloody Potter's son...
"He may not be my son," Snape said quietly. "But he is my ward. And I care for him, even if you don't. Hear that, Dumbledore? I care for him. I don't deny it anymore." Snape swept away from the room and went to check on Harry.
The baby was breathing shallowly, coughing pitifully. When Snape entered the room, Harry croaked out: "Napey..."
"Ssh...Don't exert yourself," Snape said softly, sitting down on the bed beside him. "You'll get better, I promise,"
"Pwease," Harry coughed again. "Owie!"
Snape picked him up and snuggled him close. "Don't worry,"
"Hawwy sweepy," Harry yawned.
"I'll sleep with you,"
So they slept together. When Dumbledore entered the room, his expression soured at the two of them cuddled up close, Harry's head lying on Snape's shoulder, his little arm on the man's chest.
"Stay right here, Harry," Snape scooped up the boy from his lap and put him down on the bed. "I'll be right back,"
Harry smiled weakly at him, looking sickly pale and extremely weak.
Snape answered the door. To his surprise, it was Charity. He had forgotten all about her.
He stared at her, rather perplexed. "Charity?" he said blankly.
"I heard about Harry," she said, quietly. "Thought I should come and see him..."
Snape let her in and led her to his room. She took a long look at Harry.
Harry only mumbled, "Chawwy," in greeting. Then he immediately fell asleep.
"I feel so sad for him!" Charity sniffed sympathetically.
"I do too," Snape sighed.
Charity turned around to face him and said in a simpering voice: "You must be so lonely, Severus..." She said. "I'm so sorry for you..." She leant into his face, a hungry expression on her own. And then something very sudden happened-she kissed him full on the lips.
After a few seconds of sloppy, forced kissing, Snape wrenched himself away from her and stared at Charity with fury and revulsion.
"What are you playing at?" He demanded, backing away.