Title: Gift for bobsmonkeymafia 2006
Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating: G
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters or their world. This is fanfiction and I'm just playing for fun, not making any money.
Summary: Tom Riddle is sick and too good for a trip to the hospital wing.
Notes: Written for bobsmonkeymafia as a holiday gift. Enjoy!

Gift for Bobsmonkeymafia 2006

Tom reached over to the nightstand by his bed and picked up the glass of water there. He had just enough time to take a few gulps before his nose twitched. Then he reached for his handkerchief. "ihhChahh!" His nose dripped as he leaned over, reading the book which was open on his lap, and he pressed his hanky to it to minimize the damage.

The book contained magical healing spells and potions in a combination how-to and historical account. At one point in time, as he had with just about every other profession in the wizarding world, Tom had flirted briefly with the notion of becoming a healer. But healing was for Hufflepuffs, not Slytherins. There wasn't anything noble or glorious about sitting by people's beds saying soothing things and wiping people's noses.

He could just about handle his own nose, and that was enough. "ihhhChushh!" He blew his nose with one hand while he thumbed through the book.

It seemed to Tom that there must be some magical way of curing this wretched cold, or at least lessen the symptoms significantly. He had located a whole host of possibilities, but nothing among them looked all that probable. There were herbs he could not easily get his hands on, and spells far beyond his years. Naturally, there was nothing he, Lord Voldemort, could not manage and no one would ever get him to admit otherwise. But he, Tom Riddle, did not have unlimited powers just yet.

He was working on it, though. First curing the common cold, and then immortality. "ihhhChahh! hihChahh!" And the sooner the better. After all, what good was being powerful and immortal if you had a nose that ran like a faucet and a headache the size of a hippogriff?

Tom lifted his head, looking around the dormitory to be sure he was still alone. Only three other boys from his house were spending the winter holiday at Hogwarts. And while none of them were in his year, he did not want to look up after an awful bout of sneezing to find that he had an audience of any sort. That was part of the reason he refused to go to the hospital wing. He did not need just anyone wandering by to see him sitting on one of those little cots, sniffling and coughing. Tom could imagine the look on the faces of students or professors when they saw him sneeze. He did not want to be embarrassed on top of miserable.

The other part was that the healer there, Wilkins, was completely inept, as Tom saw it. The man could barely fix a broken bone, let alone do something for an incurable cold. The books he'd taken out of the library could do more for him at this point, anyway. He hung his head again, studying them carefully for some sign of an option.

Tom also had a horrible feeling in the depths of his stomach that, should Dumbledore find out he was ill and refusing to go to the hospital wing, he would be shipped right off to the orphanage. Professor Dumbledore couldn't have his good students just waiting around to be infected by an illness. The man didn't trust Tom; that was the truth. He didn't really understand why, since Dumbledore could not possibly know of the things Tom had done or the things Tom thought.

Right now, all Tom was thinking was how he refused to suffer one day more with this cold. His nose was absolutely annoying in the way it tickled and ran at the same time. When he wasn't winding up for a sneeze, he felt the dripping into his handkerchief. Blowing it, as he did every few minutes, did absolutely no good at all but he kept it up in hopes that one of these times his nose might just clear.

However, it bothered him constantly, so much so that he could barely concentrate on the words of Holistic Herbs: One Thousand and One Magical Uses. He set the book aside and closed his eyes in frustration. Surely there must be an easier way of doing this?

And that was when it occurred to him to use magic. Tom was cross with himself for not having thought of it sooner, but immediately blamed that fact on his cold. He piled all the books together on the bed and knelt before them with his wand. He blew his tender nose powerfully, not trusting his voice to be without congestion otherwise; he knew he must act quickly. He held his wand out, the tip hovering over the stacks of books, then spoke the words to a spell he had developed months ago to aid him in his homework. Students were forbidden to use magic spells to help them with their magic homework, which was complete rubbish as far as Tom was concerned, so he had developed a half dozen clever, untraceable spells. The purpose of the one he used now was to search through texts, highlighting key words. Tom spoke the words to the spell and, as the books glowed, he rattled off a short list of words.

After that, he grabbed the most likely volume and flipped through it. This time, he was filled with a renewed sense of hope as he drank and snuffled into his hanky. "ihhh-iihhhKShhh! Snfffff! ihh-HIHShhh!" As he opened his eyes after the sneezes, there it was. Excited, Tom's heart skipped a beat.

In 1797, Chemist Glover Hipworth claimed to have discovered the cure for one of the world's most rampant viruses: the common cold. Hipworth began his work specifically toward this purpose twelve years before, after coming down with what he claimed was 'the worst cold in history'. After that notable code, Hipworth continued catching colds at the rate of five a year…

Frustrated and slightly annoyed with Hipworth already, Tom skimmed ahead.

Hipworth's claim of a cure was met with mixed reactions from the medical community. Attempts at reproducing the formula were unsuccessful on a grand scale, and the element of pepper in the potion made the testing environment unruly. Subjects sneezed more from the potion than from their colds. Direct side effects from the potion were numerous and dangerous, including noses overflowing and heads overheating.

Tom was mindful of the side effects, however the prospect of a cure was too great. He quickly grabbed a piece of parchment and copied down the ingredients and instructions for the potion as specified in the book. Already he could see several faults with it. A few of the active ingredients would cause an imbalance in any potion. He was confident that after a few attempts, he would be able to correct it. He would be sneeze-free in no time.

No time turned out to be all night long. He went through his supplies of potion ingredients and began making his way through those in his dormmates' trunks as well. He would pay them back in full when they returned; this was work that was too important to end because he was running low on Halfgan root or dried figs.

"ihhhhhChuh! Curses!" The sneeze had sent what little pepper he had left across the table he'd procured in the Slytherin common room. Sniffling, he raised his handkerchief to his face. "ihhChihh! ehhhYihchuhh!" There was nothing for it. He was too close to give up now, even though he was tempted to claim one of the plush green couches and stretch out on it for a few hours.

Instead, he grabbed his cauldron, notebook, and ingredients and headed out of the dungeons. He was not supposed to be roaming the corridors at this time of night, even if he was a prefect. It was two hours until dawn, and if he were caught, he would have difficulty with an excuse, given that he was in his pajamas and carrying ingredients for a potion he had no business brewing during holiday. In fact, there was just one place in the entire castle where he could go, which was also the very last place he wanted to be.

Sniffling, Tom Riddle strode into the hospital wing. "I deed bebber," he declared, staring down a sleepy bathrobe-clad Healer Wilkins. "Dow," he insisted sternly. Then he turned and directed a sharp sneeze into his shoulder.

"You're ill," Wilkins said, yawning and walking over, taking a clean, folded handkerchief out of his pocket as he went. "You should lie down. I'll take a look at you."

Tom shook his head. This was precisely what he was afraid of. It was painful to blow his nose this time, and not because his nose was sore. He was terribly aware of the man watching and listening to him. But when he was finished, his voice was clearer. "No, I merely-"

"There now, you'll be all right. Rest and lots of orange juice, that's what you need." The healer took Tom by the shoulder and guided him over to a cot with tenderness that Tom had absolutely no use for.

"What I need is some Pep-" Wilkins stuck a thermometer under Tom's tongue. The young man glared at him for a second only, then pulled the instrument out again. He set the items he'd brought down. "Get me some pepper." He paused, his chest heavy and shoulders tight. "Please."

Against his better judgment, and perhaps because of the time of night, the healer gave in and contacted the house elves for pepper.

Tom spent the next few hours as he'd spent the last few hours and those few hours before that. He sneezed continuously, making notes and correcting amounts. Once again, he dipped a goblet into his cauldron. He tossed back the contents and waited. The sneezy feeling in his nose was still there, but the urge itself backed off. In fact, he felt remarkably better on all counts.

"What's this?" Healer Wilkins asked. "You've got steam coming out of your ears!"

"It's all right," Tom assured him. That was the only thing he had not been able to do away with, but that side effect was momentary and otherwise harmless. Tom yawned, thrusting over the final instructions and amounts, hoping for praise.

Then fatigue set in. After suffering so long from his cold and being up all night working, it was all Tom could do to stumble to one of the cots before he fell asleep.

When he woke, he found he'd been tucked into one of the beds. Instinctively, he reached up for a glass of orange juice and a hanky, only to find his throat felt fine and his nose felt clear. He breathed in and out, testing it, then grinned. Tom sat up and stretched, beaming with pride and not a shred of misery. Then he picked up the copy of The Daily Profit which was also on the bedside table. The cover story caught his attention at once.

Healer Wilkins of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry made a fascinating discovery last night, which has since been verified by healers at St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. The potion developed by Glover Hipworth to cure the common cold has finally been proven to work. The potion, which healers are calling Pepperup because of its main ingredient, will soon be available throughout the wizarding world...

He scanned the rest of the article and found not a single mention of him. Tom's fist closed around the paper, crinkling then crushing it.