It was complete. Or at least, he hoped it was. It was not as though he made these kinds of potions everyday, much less one that only a handful of people knew how to make. And that handful was determinedly keeping their mouths shut. Damn them. Severus Snape stared anxiously at the bubbling cauldron, adding a pinch more of Essence of Raven to it. He had worked with what Dumbledore had given him, and now this was their only hope. He glanced at the bloody stone bowl that the old man had thrust into his hands more than twelve hours before, saying, \"You know what this is, use it well!\". Of course he knew what it was. He glared at the bowl. Damn that idiot Potter boy! He had never forgiven him for what he had done the previous year… waltzing around in his Pensieve like that, as though he had any right to! He angrily wrenched apart a unicorn horn and chucked it into the seething potion, which turned to a darker red. Arching an eyebrow, he satisfied himself with that reaction. Then, his thoughts flickered back to Harry Potter. It was absolutely atrocious. Severus Snape did not forgive often or easily. Seeing as he had not even forgiven the boy for being the spawn of JAMES Potter yet, it did not seem likely that he would pardon the son of his worst enemy at all. Taking a deep breath, he forced his mind off of the bane of his existence and grabbed a flask in his right hand. He also lifted a ladle and began to fill the glass bottle. Then, once he was finished, he stepped out into the brightly-lit hallway to find Albus Dumbledore sitting on a bench, his chin in one hand. He looked up. \"Is it ready, Severus?\" \"I think so,\" Snape replied. His greasy hair flopped around his pale face as he nodded. \"Shall we try it, then?\" \"We have everything to lose,\" the headmaster said warningly. Snape sighed. \"We might as well, headmaster. There\'s nothing else anyone can do.\" \"I know,\" Dumbledore wearily said. They walked to the Plague ward. Inside, Snape shivered as he stared at the infected children. However, there was only a tiny window in the heavy door, so he could not see much. He squared his shoulders purposefully and glanced at his companion. Dumbledore gazed back at him. \"Are you sure you are ready to do this, Severus?\" \"It must be done,\" he firmly replied. Dumbledore nodded. \"Yes… yes, it must be done,\" he thoughtfully replied. \"Very well. Go ahead.\" Taking a deep breath, Snape performed the Bubble-Head charm on himself and waved Dumbledore away as he opened the door. His eyes widened in shock as he stared at the atrocity before him. The students were lying on their cots, still as death. However, when he opened the door, their eyes shot open and they slowly tried to sit up. Many of them were deformed beyond recognition, and he merely stared at the rows upon rows of them. He recognized the one nearest to him- Lavender Brown. Her large brown eyes were coated in black, like a thick oil, and her skin was disgustingly inflamed. She reached out to him with dead fingers, groping and grasping at the air. He stepped out of her reach, and she fell heavily onto the cot. Backing away in horror, he accidentally hit another cot. A faint moan was heard, and as he turned, he saw that it was Hermione. Her glossy brown hair was tangled and limp, and her black eyes were not able to focus on him. She merely gazed beyond him, slouched on the cot, her lips mouthing something that he did not understand. Next to her was Ron, who looked as though he was incapable of the slightest movement. He just lay on his bed, his eyes mercifully closed. Snape leaned closer to him, surveying his white, wasted face. He was quite close when Ron\'s hand suddenly shot up and clamped around Snape\'s thin wrist. Panicking, the Potions Master let out a cry and jumped away, almost carrying Ron with him. He wrenched his arm out of Ron\'s grip, backing away. Whirling around, he saw the younger Creevey boy, tucked away on a cot in the corner. The mouse-like lad was staring at everything and nothing, his black eyes shedding tears of blood. His heart thumping painfully in his chest, Snape grabbed Creevey and half-carried, mostly half-dragged him into a small side room. Uncorking the vial, he force-fed the lad. He coughed and sputtered, blood dribbling down his chin. Wincing, Snape stepped back and waited to see if the potion would take hold. If it did not, then there truly was no hope. Dumbledore peered through the small window in the door to find Snape surrounded by the infected students. He let out a deep sigh. This Plague had taken such a toll on his school… he had to credit Tom, he certainly knew how to cause a fracas. His gaze flickered from one student to the next. They were fading quickly. If this potion did not work, then they would surely die. \"Albus?\" someone called. He looked up. Running down the hall were Arthur and Molly Weasley. Arthur looked strained and worried. Molly, who kept dabbing her eyes with a spotted handkerchief, was pale and had a look of terror lurking in her eyes. \"Hello, Arthur, Molly,\" Albus said. \"Is there any change? Any at all? Fred and George want to come soon as well, they\'re worried sick. We came as soon as we could, but-\" \"Ron is not any better at the moment,\" Dumbledore heavily said. \"Neither is Hermione. However, Severus has concocted what may be the antidote. He is trying it out now.\" \"He is?!\" Arthur said, relieved. \"Oh, thank Merlin-\" \"Do not get your hopes up,\" Albus sharply warned. \"There is no telling what will happen.\" He sighed. \"Harry is now in here as well.\" \"What?\" Molly suddenly shot out. \"He\'s-\" \"Not the Plague, no… he is the reason we have an antidote, however.\" \"What happened?\" Molly exclaimed, looking furious. \"Why is he here?!\" \"He was transported to Scotland last night by means of a Portkey,\" the old man said. \"The Plague was devised by Voldemort, who used it in the hopes of fulfilling the Prophecy.\" The Weasleys looked horrified. \"Voldemort wanted Harry to kill himself to save his friends.\" \"And- and what happened?!\" Molly squeaked out. \"Harry attempted to commit suicide to save the students,\" Dumbledore heavily said. \"He is in a very unstable condition at the moment, but, hopefully, he should survive.\" \"\'Hopefully\'?!\" Molly cried. \"Can we see him? Where is he?!\" \"I am not entirely sure,\" Albus admitted. \"As Healer Revina told me, he is not out of the woods yet. He is in the Critical Ward.\" The Weasleys fell silent. They crowded around the tiny window and stared at their son. Molly suddenly burst into hopeless tears and buried her face in her husband\'s shoulder. \"I want to be with him,\" she sobbed. \"You can\'t,\" Arthur said, looking pained. \"I need to be with him… I need to be with him!\" she shrieked, hysterical. \"He\'s going to die, Arthur, and we\'re just sitting out here-\" \"Don’t say that, Molly!\" Arthur exclaimed. \"You can\'t say that-\" \"I want to be with my little boy, Arthur… he needs me!\" Albus Dumbledore had his head in his hand. He sighed. \"You\'re here, Molly. At the moment, that is all that we can do.\" They fell silent once more, save for the tears of Mrs. Weasley. Her sobs echoed throughout the hallway, making it seem as though tens of thousands were crying with her. *********** If Sirius had been outside to see it, he would have appreciated the pale sliver of moonlight illuminating the streets of London. All was silent and still, peaceful and serene. London was another world by night, one of tempting mysteries and sensations. However, with his left leg cramping up as he curled up at the foot of his godson\'s bed, Snuffles was not thinking of such things. With dark gray eyes he glanced to his left: Remus was sprawled gracelessly in his wooden chair, sleeping gently. His sandy brown hair was flopped onto his forehead, and his friend could see the tell-tale peppering of early grayness. As Sirius stared at his sleeping friend, he remembered Remus from their school days- he had always been so quiet and shy, burying his nose in any book that he could find. Sometimes Sirius still marveled at the fact that Remus had become friends with him and James- they were such opposites. Even then, though, in those early days, Remus had showed the signs of strain that his monthly werewolf ventures caused him. On more than one occasion, he had fallen asleep in class because he had been so exhausted from his transformation the day before. Snuffles growled quietly deep in his throat. It was not fair. Remus did not deserve to live as he did, unable to work, his only possessions the robes that he wore and the battered suitcase he carried. While Sirius was more than happy to let his best friend stay in Grimmauld Place with him, he knew that Remus had never liked to rely on other people to live. He snapped back to attention when he heard his godson moan in his sleep. Harry was tossing and turning, apparently trapped in some sort of nightmare. \"No,\" he was mumbling. \"No- no-\" Sirius edged his way up the bed, wondering whether or not to wake him. \"Please, don\'t make me- you can\'t- Sirius- where are you, Sirius-\" I\'m here, Harry, Sirius thought. \"Sirius- they\'re gonna kill me- help-\" Snuffles pushed his head into Harry\'s side. His godson woke with a start, staring wildly around. His eyes snapped to Snuffles, who whined softly. \"Oh God,\" Harry mumbled, a tiny smile on his face. \"Hey, Snuffles.\" Snuffles whined again. Harry looked at him. \"How\'d you get in here?\" He paused, looking around. \"Where am I?\" Sirius debated turning back to his human form, but froze when he heard footsteps in the hall. He saw the clock on the wall. It was nearly six in the morning, but he thought that he would have had more time. Panicking, he leapt off the bed, grabbed the hem of Remus\'s robes in his teeth, and dragged him under the hospital cot. Shifting back to his human form, Sirius whipped out his wand, pointed it at Remus, who was breathing quickly from being jolted awake in such a bizarre manner, and muttered, \"Minimidgi!\" \"What-\" Remus started, and then halted when he immediately began to shrink. Soon he was no larger than Sirius\'s hand. He strode angrily up to his friend and shook his finger at him. Sirius had to bit his lip to keep from bursting out laughing as he saw the five-inch-high Remus jumping around in fury. \"Sirius Black,\" Remus shouted in a high, squeaky voice, \"If you EVER do something like that to me again-\" \"You\'ll thank me,\" Sirius whispered, and then performed the charm on himself just as the door opened. From under the cot, he could see the shoes of a healer. \"Good morning, Mr. Potter,\" a female voice said. \"Have you been awake long?\" The reason for Sirius\'s actions suddenly dawned on Remus. \"Ah,\" he said, his high-pitched voice soft. \"Barely,\" Harry answered quietly. \"What happened?\" \"You were attacked by someone,\" the healer replied. \"There were cuts all up and down your arms, see?\" \"OH,\" they heard Harry say. \"Do you remember what happened?\" the healer asked. \"Not really,\" Harry quickly said. Sirius let out a sigh of relief. If he had said the truth, he would have been locked into the Ward of Insanity for quite some time. \"That\'s all right,\" the healer soothingly said. \"We\'re just going to keep you here for awhile, to see what we can do.\" \"Why do I have stitches?\" Harry asked, perplexed. \"Apparently there\'s some venom at work in your body that does not allow your wounds to stay closed,\" she answered. \"So we had to do it this way until the poison works its way out of your system.\" \"Oh. Okay.\" \"I\'ll be back within the hour,\" the healer said. \"I\'ll be bring some of my colleagues with me so we can discuss your treatment.\" \"Thank you,\" Harry called as the door closed. Once that they decided the coast was clear, Remus and Sirius climbed up the bedpost as quickly as they could. Harry\'s eyebrows shot up as he saw them struggle up the side of the bed as though they were mountain-climbing. \"Having fun?\" he asked, grinning as he saw the miniature versions of his godfather and his best friend. \"Oh yes,\" Remus sarcastically puffed as he hoisted himself up onto the coverlet. \"LOADS of fun.\" \"It was all I could think to do!\" Sirius squeaked. Harry burst out laughing as he realized that when they shrank, their voices shrank with them so they sounded incredibly high and tinny. \"It wasn\'t as though we could\'ve hidden there normally! She would\'ve seen us!\" \"I remember when you did this to Peter and me during school,\" Remus angrily shrilled. \"It wasn\'t funny then, it isn\'t funny now!\" \"Of course it was funny during school, the whole Common Room was laughing their heads off!\" Sirius retorted, clinging to the bedpost as he tried to swing his legs onto the bed. \"And if you had any memory WHATsoever, you\'d remember it was James who did it, not me.\" \"Oh yeah,\" Remus said in his piping voice. \"Right. Sorry about that.\" \"No offense taken at all, my friend.\" Then, Sirius turned back to Harry. \"So let\'s talk about last night, shall we?\" Harry sighed. \"What do you want to say?\" \"That I can\'t believe you went there and did what you did, but I\'m also quite proud,\" Sirius said, surprising Harry. \"Next time, just make sure you tell Dumbledore before you try heading off with a git like Malfoy.\" \"But Malfoy said it was my only chance!\" Harry loudly said. \"They would\'ve died!\" \"It was a bad situation, Harry,\" Remus squeaked. \"There really isn\'t anything else you could have done. So we commend you for it.\" \"I guess,\" Harry mumbled. Then, he stared at them. \"The others. The students. What\'s going on with them?!\" Sirius and Remus looked fleetingly at each other. \"Well-\" Sirius began, but Remus cut him off. \"It\'s not looking good, but we haven\'t heard any news since yesterday,\" Remus said in his high-pitched voice. \"Maybe something good has happened.\" \"Yeah,\" Harry said half-heartedly. \"Maybe.\" \"At this point,\" Sirius squeaked, settling himself on the coverlet, \"No news is good news, I\'d say.\" He suddenly stopped, staring at the door. Somebody was opening it. Running around in a squeaking panic, Sirius and Remus chose to dive under the coverlet and cower by the footboard. As Harry was still rather short, there was about a foot of space between his feet and the shrunken bodies of the two adults. Cassandra Revina stepped into the room. \"Oh, good morning, Harry.\" Her eyes swept the room quickly, and smiled as she saw that Sirius and Remus were not there. That meant that they had taken her advice and cleared out before the other nurses came. Just to be sure, she had decided to duck in beforehand to judge that the coast was clear. \"So how are you feeling?\" \"Not that great,\" Harry nervously said, all too aware of Sirius and Remus at the edge of the bed. \"Um, so who are you?\" \"I\'m Healer Cassandra Revina, but you can call me Cassie,\" she answered. \"Okay... what happens now?\" \"Well, we take off the dressings, check your arms and decide where to go from there,\" she said, indicating his bloody bandages. She moved to sit at the edge of the bed, and Harry was about to shout at her to get off when she sat down. There was a terrified squeaking from under the coverlet and she jumped, terrified. \"DAMMIT, CASSIE!\" Sirius yelped, thrashing around to free himself from under her hand. \"YOU\'RE GOING TO SQUISH US!\" \"Sirius?!\" Cassie exclaimed, leaping up. \"Oh God, I\'m sorry! I-\" she suddenly frowned. \"You were supposed to be out of here at six!\" \"Well, pardon me if I get caught by some nurse who came in BEFORE six!\" Sirius angrily squeaked. He stood up tall, full five inches high, and glared at Cassie. She looked as though she was trying to keep from laughing hysterically. \"WHAT?!\" he shrilled. \"Never seen a half-a-foot tall man before?!\" Cassie started laughing. \"Sirius, you never fail to amaze me.\" Sirius grinned. \"That\'s my job.\" Remus stood up as well, brushing his hair agitatedly out of his eyes. \"Would you two PLEASE stop flirting and at least tell me what\'s going on!\" Sirius and Cassie laughed and turned to Remus. Cassie perched herself once more on the bed, although carefully, so she would not suffocate Sirius again by mistake. \"Snape has made what might be the antidote, and he\'s trying it out now. We\'ll have some results by mid-morning, at the earliest.\" \"Oh, that\'s good,\" Remus said, his voice piping through the air. Cassie nodded. \"We\'ll know today, one way or the other.\" She arched an eyebrow as she stared at the two miniature men before her. \"Um, just to be safe, you two ought to probably hide when the other nurses come in. How about in the bedside drawer? Then you can hear what we say to Harry.\" \"Sounds like a plan,\" Sirius squeaked. Cassie gently lifted the two of them up and set them in the drawer. She did not close it all the way. \"It\'s dusty in here,\" Sirius called. \"I\'m going to choke to death!\" \"Then here, clean it,\" Cassie retorted, dropping a tissue into the drawer with them. She looked up, ignoring their angry squeaks as the door opened and the other nurses walked in. ********** Severus Snape collapsed wearily into a chair, mopping his sweaty brow. He had been working nonstop, distributing what he hoped was the antidote to the Plague. His eyelids flickered mercifully shut- he had been awake for almost two days. He was just about to start dozing when he was rudely shaken back to consciousness. Cracking open an eyelid, he groaned. \"Hello, Headmaster.\" \"Severus,\" Dumbledore said as way of greeting. \"Did you finish?\" \"Just gave some to the Rhodes girl ten minutes ago, and she was the last one,\" Snape yawned. Smiling, the old man gave the Potions Master a paper bag and a cup of tea. Snape raised an eyebrow. \"Some food,\" Dumbledore explained. \"I daresay you are quite hungry after all of your efforts?\" \"Oh yes,\" Snape said, surprised that Dumbledore had gone out of his way to do that for him. \"Thank you, Headmaster.\" \"It is my pleasure.\" \"So now what happens?\" Snape asked through a sip of tea. \"Now we wait.\" At that moment, a young girl woke up to a dim light. Confused, she stared around, wondering where on earth she was and how she had come to be there. \"Where-\" she began to say, but began coughing. Rubbing her chest, she frowned. Her trademark bushy brown hair, which was, at the moment, messy and limp, fell around her face. She tried to gather some information pertaining to her surroundings. She was in some sort of hospital room, but it was not the wing at Hogwarts, that was certain. The room was sparse, simply containing the cot that she was lying on and nothing else. She glanced down at her body. She was wearing a starched white gown that reached almost to her knees. She was horrified to see what looked like a rash all over her skin, but it seemed as though it was fading. It was then that she realized her eyesight was distinctly fogged, as though there was a veil over her face. Blinking hard, she tried to dispel it, but gave up. She slowly struggled to sit up, breathing heavily with the effort. She could not remember what had happened before she had come to be there. All that she remembered was falling into darkness for an eternity. Maybe she had died. However, that was purely illogical and made no sense whatsoever. Whatever the case, she was starting to feel better. In another room deep in the bowels of the hospital where no one could be infected should they somehow manage to stray down there, a young man with blindingly red hair was lying on his cot as well. He could not see the light above him, nor the inflamed patches raging over his skin. A fleck of blood was on his lips. He could not see, for he was not moving. He simply slid further into his black oblivion that was devoid of emotion, memory, and life. Snape hurriedly asked for reports on all of the sick children. The Weasley family had been pestering him- now with the parents were the twins, Fred and George, and the girl, Ginny. While Ginny had simply curled up in a corner and cried, the twins had repeatedly asked for information, growing increasingly aggressive. \"We want to see him,\" Fred snapped. \"You can\'t,\" Snape retorted. \"Who the hell put you in charge?!\" George yelled. Arthur and Molly, still distraught, did not even bother to tell off their sons. Snape had then angrily strode away, desperate to escape from the grieving family. A healer stepped out of one of the rooms, holding a clipboard in his hands. He dispelled his Bubble-Head Charm, thus restoring his head to normal size. \"Well?\" Snape asked, his voice clipped and professional. \"What news is there?\" \"Most of the students are progressing phenomenally well,\" the healer answered, a tiny smile on his face. \"It seems as though your antidote is what we needed.\" \"You said \'most\',\" Snape cut in, suspicious. \"Who isn\'t recovering?\" The healer sighed. \"There is one who is not responding. He just keeps relapsing, it gets worse each time…\" \"WHO?!\" Snape snapped. \"Ronald Weasley.\"
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