Title: Harry Potter and the Hyacinth

Author: tarotgal
Fandom: Harry Potter

Rating: G

Warnings: A few flashbacks, and I'm afraid you'll be feeling loads of sympathy rather constantly throughout
Disclaimer: J.K.R.'s characters, brilliance and world and I don't get a dime for this- it's all in fun, no infringement intended at all
Summary: Harry's got an allergy to a potion ingredient and Snape is not at all pleased with this as one might expect.

Notes: Pics of hyacinth flowers- http://www.weddingflowers.com.au/samples/flowers/pages/hyacinth.html


The meanings of hyacinth (General, blue, purple) were somewhat reflected in this story, for the fun of it

Comments: Sure, I'd love 'em



Harry Potter and the Hyacinth


     Harry slumped down into his seat, dropping his bag onto the hard stone floor of the dungeons. Another day, another double potions lesson. None of the other Gryffindors seemed too thrilled either, but it was nearly the end of April and final exams were approaching, which meant an end of lessons was in sight. A ray of hope, however far off it was that the torture and misery would soon be over for the year.


     But in the present, the torture was beginning again. Professor Snape swept into the dungeons, his black robes waving dramatically as he stormed past their desks to the front of the class. He cleared his throat, and the magical piece of chalk began writing out the list of ingredients on the board in a perfect imitation of Snape's scraggly handwriting. "As we have finished our invisibility drafts, and those of you who botched them up badly have since returned to us from hospital wing with all body parts now visible, today we will be starting on a new potion," he started in his usual instructive but mocking tone. "It is highly advanced, and perhaps the last complex potion you will complete before your exams. It deserves nothing less than perfection and thus requires nothing less than your utmost skill and concentration, assuming that some of you are actually possessed with such things." Of course he glared towards the Gryffindors as he said this.


     Holding back a sigh, Harry turned his attention to the chalk board. So far, the directions he could see seemed the normal complicated sort. Cut this, add that, boil for a specific length of time, stir until a certain aroma is given off, add another dozen somethings, then simmer overnight. And in between there was constant temperature monitoring and timing and pinches of everything else to be thrown in as well.


     "This potion," Snape continued with raised volume, making the few straying eyes snap back to him with attention, "is called Infligere Pathos and can be highly effective when honed properly. It will allow the potion-maker to inflict any sort of emotion or feeling into he who ingests but a drop of it. Made properly, it is resilient when placed in nearly any liquid, and is odorless, tasteless, and colorless so that it is utterly undetectable." He gestured towards the chalkboard. "Today you will be completing the first step for the base of this solution. Many separate layers comprise this potion, the most complicated of which comes at the end and has to do with being able to add the right amount of ingredients to select the emotions to be given to the drinker. If even the base is done incorrectly however, there can be disastrous effects and the most common result is that the drinker feels exactly what the potion maker felt while making it. So do be careful what emotions you project while working today. Be careful and concentrate on the task at hand." Snape ended with that, turning the board so it could be viewed properly by all as the chalk came to a rest on the lip of the board, finished writing.


     Somehow feeling even worse than he had before the start of lesson, Harry sighed. They all began rooting through their stores of ingredients, pulling out those needed for this potion and putting away the others. "Haven't got any extra dried moth cocoons, have you?" inquired Ron, shaking a small and nearly empty bottle as he held it up to his face, almost touching his nose. He frowned as he took out a small box and lifted the lid as a gust of steam escaped. The box was not hot, but cold to keep the contents frozen. "I could use an extra rat spleen if you've got one, too. I'm out. Wish I still had Scabbers," he muttered in joking, but no one laughed. Slightly disturbed at this, Ron looked up at Harry. "Oy, are you all right?"


     Harry was frozen to the spot, staring straight ahead at the chalkboard. The far left side had been slanted and hidden in shadow before, as Snape talked. But now Harry could read the detailed list of ingredients clearly. Though it was quite clear that he did not care for what he saw there.


     "Harry?" Hermione said concernedly, reaching out and brushing her fingertips against his arm.


     He jumped with a start, looking back at Hermione and Ron. "S-sorry," he said, slowly regaining his faculties. "What were you saying?"


     "You all right, Mate?" Ron asked, looking as equally worried as Hermione. His eyes lit up as Harry rubbed the back of his neck. "Is it your..." he dropped his voice down so low he was only mouthing the word, "scar?"


     Harry shook his head at once. "No, no, it's not that. It's..." he gestured helplessly at the chalkboard, as if it could explain better. "It's the dried hyacinth blossoms. Three cups full!" Harry stressed, looking miserable about it.


     Ron pointed to the jar on the table in front of Harry. "Yeah, it's a core ingredient. But you have enough, look."


     Harry did not need to look, and he only wished that were the problem. "It's not that," he repeated, a little frustrated. They were making this into a big deal when he hadn't meant it to be, and now there was no hiding it. They would expect some sort of answer, and he was having trouble thinking of anything but the truth. "The truth is, I'm highly allergic to hyacinth," Harry admitted, his eyes traveling down and resting on the large container with contempt.




*          *          *


     Waffles. Every year on this day he was forced to make waffles, stacks and stacks of them. Which wouldn't be at all too bad if not for the fact that the Dursleys were too cheep to buy a proper waffle iron. With this one you had to watch it carefully so that the moment the little light went on you removed the waffles, else their beautiful golden brown color almost immediately turned black. And then there would be the usual yelling and complaining all directed towards Harry. For Aunt Petunia, her husband and son seemed to think, deserved better than burnt waffles on her birthday. Harry wasn't quite so sure but he didn't like an increase of yelling or complaining directed right towards him either.


     "Good morning, Petunia," Uncle Vernon cooed in what he must have thought was a sweet, romantic sort of way. But it didn't fit his voice at all. He looked over at Dudley, who was heaving himself onto a kitchen chair. "Dudley? What do you say to your mother?"


     "Happy Birthday!" the young Dudley called out in a partially toothless grin. Then, without missing a single beat, "Where's the cake?"


     His parents laughed with affection. "The little dear wants his mummy to be happy on her birthday," observed Uncle Vernon, though Harry was pretty sure that Dudley, dressed in his best with a too-tight suit and tie, really just wanted first helpings of the cake.


     "We'll eat it tonight, Sweetums," Aunt Petunia said, leaning over and taking her large son in a hug, unable to quite get her scrawny arms all the way around him, but coming quite close in the attempt.


     "However, we do have a few presents for now," Uncle Vernon said, smiling mischievously. He disappeared into the hallway, returning moments later with his hands behind his back. He slowly brought out a box of chocolates, then a bunch of flowers that were not cut and arranged but in their pot still, ready to be planted. The flowers were a bright purpleish-blue in a large bunch at the end of a long green stem. Several of these shared the same pot, in a mass of beautiful blossoms. They had a sickeningly strong scent that seemed to fill the whole kitchen with their sweetness.


     She took the flowers, burying her nose in them with a deep breath and smiling blissfully at the scent before placing them on the table as a centerpiece. "Oh, Vernon, thank you!" Aunt Petunia cried, now rising and wrapping her arms around her husband's neck. Dudley was already digging into the box of chocolates.


     Harry waited until they'd separated, taken their seats, and started giving him impatient looks before bringing over the stack of waffles. Aunt Petunia liked butter and fruit on hers, and took great care in distributing these perfectly herself. Whereas Uncle Vernon and Dudley drowned theirs in syrup as they did with pancakes until there was more syrup in each mouthful than anything else. Harry normally didn't get much to eat, but ate them with a bit of fruit when he got the chance, for the syrup was usually always running quite low by that time. This morning, however, he didn't feel much like eating. Sure, his stomach was grumbling and sure he'd managed to procure a few waffles for himself before Dudley could take them all. But he didn't feel quite right somehow.


     And all of a sudden, the sensation hit him. A fierce, burning tickling in his nose, and a desperate urge to sneeze. Having no handkerchief or tissues handy, and not wanting to use one of the cloth napkins for the task, he lifted his arm and pressed his nose into the sleeve of his bathrobe. "huh-Hahshoo! hehShooo! hehtchooo! Hishoo!" He sniffed, finding the tickling in his nose continued, even after that short, steady stream of sneezes. He dared not lower his arm for an instant, the urge to sneeze pounding through him, making his eyes close and his jaw drop. "hahChuhhh! hahChoo! hehChoo!"


     "Boy!" Uncle Vernon roared. "Don't do that at the table! Do you think we all want to catch your germs?"


     Sniffling, Harry looked up over his arm. "I'b dot... hehIHshhooo! I'b dot sick," he said. He knew that for certain. He always sneezed in doubles when he was sick. Besides, it had snuck up on him suddenly; apart from feeling sick to his stomach to see the sappy hug between his aunt and uncle, he'd felt perfectly normal all morning. Usually when he was coming down sick he knew several days before the sneezes even began. Whatever this was, it wasn't anything like that. "hehTchoo! hihshoo! hehShooo!"


     "Mum!" Dudley whined, sticking his lower lip out. "Harry's making me lose my appetite!"


     "hahItchoo!" Harry highly doubted that anything could be so revolting as to do that, let alone a few sneezes, but he glared at Dudley across the table anyway, unable to say anything in his own defense for the sneezes. "hehKeshhhh! hahCheshhh! hahChooo! hehChooo! Hah-EHHHShhoo!"


     "Leave the table immediately!" Uncle Vernon demanded, pushing his chair back to get to his feet and usher Harry away.


     But there was nothing in the world Harry wanted to do more at this moment than get away to deal with his sneezes in private. He sprang from the table at once, heading down the hallway to his cupboard and more specifically the box of tissues within it. He gave his nose a good scratching and rubbing in between blows. "hahChhhh!" The sneezes started to die down a little now, ending almost as quickly as they had begun. In the span of ten minutes, they were gone completely, though his nose still itched a bit.


     Stomach grumbling in hunger, and knowing he was expected to clean up the breakfast, he headed back to the now deserted kitchen. But he had barely put a foot through the door when his nose began acting up again. For a few moments, in which he began to clear the table, there was only tickling and running. Harry sniffed hard a few times to combat this, and the intense need to sneeze returned in full.


     He cupped his hands over nose and mouth, turning away from the kitchen and the leftover food still sitting out on the table. "hahChooo! hehChooo! Hah-ahChooo! hehTchuhhh! hahShooo! Hehschhhhh! Ahkeshhhh!" Suddenly feeling a little faint, Harry quickly pulled back a chair and sat, head bowed, back bent, so that more blood flowed up to his head. "hehChuhhh! hahChuhhh!" He swapped his hands for his bathrobe sleeve again, finding it a much better match for the strength and wetness of the sneezes. "hahKeshhh! hahChushhh! hehCheshhhh! Hah-hahEHHHShooo!"


     Harry could barely catch his breath in between, frozen into the spot as he doubled in half, helplessly sneezing over and over again. "hah-EhhhShhh! hehCheshhh! Hih-hah-AhhhhShooo!" Harry sniffed hard, his nose so completely stuffed that no air got through. "At least I wod't have to sbell hehHAHTchhh! those horrid flowers adybore," Harry snuffled, rubbing his nose back and forth against a dry spot on his sleeve.


     But then it hit him. He'd begun sneezing right here at the table by the flowers, and started up again right by them. Quickly, Harry sprang from the table, skidding to a halt at the end of the hallway, his back against the front door. "hehAHTchhhh!" He looked down the hall into the kitchen at the offending bit of flora, wishing it would confirm his suspicions somehow. "hahTchahhhh!" Away from the flowers, he still sneezed... only this time the sneezes were much fewer and farther in between. "hihShuhhh! hehShuhhh!" He went closer, stopping by his cupboard to retrieve a few more Kleenex. He blew his nose a dozen times, and wiped his eyes. They were tearing from the effort of sneezing so hard.


     He knew at once that rubbing his eyes was a mistake. They immediately started to itch madly. And the more he rubbed them, the worse they got, until he tore his glasses off completely and rubbed hard at both with his first and second fingers. When he replaced his glasses and looked up, his eyes stung terribly. Squinting, he could still see the flowers on the table as the French door swung open and shut, but he hadn't sneezed in minutes and the irresistible urge to do so had passed as well.


     Cautiously, he crept forward towards the kitchen. Not even so much as a new sniffle struck, even as he reached the end of the hall. But as he pushed open the door to the kitchen, he was overwhelmed. Burying his nose in a fistful of tissues, he felt himself give way to the sneezes again. No matter how hard he tried to hold them back, the burning tickle in his nose remained. "heh-hah-heh-huh-huh-uhhhhh-AHHHSHOO! AhhhShoo! hehChooo! huhCHooo! hehChooo!"


     His eyes were itching and watering again, too, and his throat was starting to feel equally itchy. Harry darted forward, quickly clearing the dishes off the table and dumping the lot in the sink, water running over them. He splashed his face with water, then tossed away his used tissues, taking a few paper towels for the purpose now. He held them to his face, breathing through them so the scent wouldn't be so strong. "ihhhChuhhh! heh-huhChooo! hehChuhhh!" Now one-handed, he rinsed out mixing bowl and wiped down the waffle iron, resigning himself to finish it all later as another wave of light headedness hit. "hehChuhhh! hahChahhh! hahChooo!" He darted back to the table and picked up a now cold waffle to eat in his cupboard. "hehChishhhhhh!" He glanced at the plant a moment, reading the little label that stuck up from the soil. "Hya... Hya-CHISHH!" Harry sneezed. "Hyacidth," he finally managed, committing both the look of the plant and the name to memory. Well, he would know better next time, that was for sure.


*          *          *




     "When you say highly allergic," said Ron thoughtfully, "what exactly do you mean? Are you talking hives or a rash or a sore throat or--"


     "Sneezing," Harry replied. He crossed his arms on the table and buried his head in them, shaking it woefully.


     "Sneezing?" asked Ron.


     "Lots of sneezing," Harry clarified, muffled as he spoke down to the desk and behind his arms. He lifted his head, face red from the heat. "I'm going to wish I were dead."


     Sympathetically, Hermione suggested, "Maybe Ron or I could add that ingredient for you?"


     "No good," Harry said, shaking his head. "If I'm within ten feet of them I start sneezing. There's no way I'll get through two weeks on this potion of this is a core ingredient." He looked around the dungeon at all the other students, starting to shred feathers and slice cocoons, free of worrying about an allergy attack.


     "Maybe it won't be so bad because they're partially dried?" Hermione tried again.


     Harry shrugged. "Yeah, and maybe Snape will award me full marks on my exam. But it's highly unlike... un..." his eyes widened as his breathing caught. He looked wildly around again, spotting a table three away where Lavender Brown had just opened her bottle of blossoms. She 'oooohed' at their beauty and aroma, raising a handful in the air and dropping them so that the flowers floated down, scattering around her side of the table. Harry closed his eyes tightly and pinched his nose. He was not going to sneeze. Not here. Not now. Not like this. It was only a silly little allergy. He could fight it. He'd fought Voldemort, after all. This couldn't possibly be as bad. "huh-NNgh!" Harry sneezed, holding it back best he could. There was a head bob and a sigh, but no one apart from Ron and Hermione, who were still looking worried, seemed to have noticed him.


     To break the tension, Ron laughed. "All that warning for that small little sneeze? If you call that a lot, Harry, you'd better get..." but his joke died away as the look reappeared on Harry's face, showing that he still needed desperately to sneeze.


     In labored gasps he breathed, unable to control then. He pinched his nose tightly but his breaths raced on without his authorization, building until the tickling and burning was so bad that he couldn't help it. "hehNgggh! huhMphhh! hehMGhhhh!"


     "So you really do only sneeze in doubles when you're sick," Ron observed, sounding curious. But this was not the time for such comments and Harry shot him a look.


     "hehUMphhh!" Harry felt around in his pocket, hoping desperately that somehow there'd be something useful there. If not a handkerchief than a used napkin or even a bit of parchment. But there was nothing. "hahNnghhh! " He shot Hermione a desperate look, and immediately she began fumbling in her robes, pulling out a small lace handkerchief. It was the sort of handkerchief a guy normally would not be caught dead using. But Harry had no choice, his nose burning and tickling and tingling and he knew he was just making it worse by holding the back as much as he was. "hahChmph!" He longed for the sneezes to stop long enough so that he could blow his nose or excuse himself or something. But there was a constant string and as soon as he let one out, another was right on its tail, tickling just as badly, no relief in sight. "hehMmghh! hahMMMphhh! Hah-huh-hehhhhh-CHUSHH!" He just couldn't hold them back any longer. His whole head throbbed with the pressure, and felt immediately better after letting one out fully.


     When Harry opened his watering eyes he saw the entire class looking his way. And most of the stares accompanied looks of great amusement. Professor Snape's, however, was cold and stern and very unforgiving. "Potter!" he shouted, making Harry's eyes water all the more. "Why are you disturbing my class? Did you hear nothing of my speech on the importance of concentration during the brewing of this stage of the potion? Must I do something to make this point clearer to you?"


     Harry could not speak. Here he was, sneezing in a way that was clearly out of his control, and here was Snape about to punish him for it, unfair as always. Snape descended upon him, lips pursed, flames raging behind his eyes. For the first time ever before at Hogwarts he actually wanted to be back at Number 4 Privet Drive in his old cupboard, just in order to curl up with a blanket and a box of tissues. "Doe, heh-EhChahh! Sniff, sniff! No, Sir! hahAhtchooo!" he managed to say between sneezes.


     "Then what is your problem now, Mister Potter? If you are ill, you should have stayed in bed to spare us from catching something from you, and rather than annoy us with your symptoms here." Snape seemed to be steaming over this, as though if Harry were to say the wrong thing he would surely explode. And though he reckoned it was the tears in his eyes distorting things, for an instant Harry was sure he saw something more in Snape's eyes than anger towards the disruption.


     "huhUhShooo! UhhShuhh!" Exceedingly glad for the handkerchief, Harry looked up at Snape. It did nothing to dampen the volume of his sneezes, but it did keep the sight of him sneezing somewhat hidden. "hahKushhh! hehKushoo! hahChoo!" He took a deep breath, the lower half of his countenance still buried in the handkerchief. "I'b allergic to... to hy... hya..." Why did he always have a problem getting this word out? "hehChooo! Hyacidth."


     Snape's eyes flashed. "Allergic, Potter?"


     "hahShoo!" Harry nodded miserably, thinking that the point should not have required clarification, given his sneezes. "hehKshhoo! hahTchooo!"


     "And how am I to know that this isn't just some excuse to get out of this lesson?" Snape asked silkily. His hand, however, was already reaching over to Harry's supply of dried Hyacinth blossoms. Long, slender fingers unscrewed the lid and immediately extended his hand, holding the jar right up to Harry's face.


     Harry's eyes widened in horror. Then his eyelids slammed shut and his grip on the handkerchief tightened, holding it for security as the sneezes struck with full power. He wouldn't have been able to stifle these even if he'd tried. "hehSHOO! hahCHOO! HAHSHHH! HAHCHISHH! hahCHOO! HEHCHOO!" He had barely time to breathe in between each, shaking helplessly with the force. "HAHShooo! HEHChooo! HAHCHOO! CHISHOOO!"


     Ron, who was closest, discretely put his arm around Harry to help brace him, for he was swaying helplessly in his seat. Hermione jumped off the stool and onto her feet. "Professor Snape! He's going to pass out!"


     Harry was, indeed feeling faint. His face had gone quite pale, and his head was spinning. His eyes wouldn't even open for the continual stream of sneezes. And his throat itched so much that it was doubly irritated as each sneeze was sneezed. "hahSHOO! CHISHUHH! Heh-huhCHISHH! heeCHAH!"


     "He should go to the hospital wing," Seamus piped up from one table over.


     "In this state I doubt Potter'd be able to find it," joked Malfoy, snickering into his shoulder.


     "I'll take him!" Ron and Hermione said simultaneously.


     Snape glared at them. "You most certainly will not. You will stay and finish your lesson. Potter's a big boy. He can find the hospital wing alone. Goodness knows he's been there so many times already. And the next person to talk out of turn and interrupt this lesson will receive twenty points from their house."


     Meanwhile, Harry tried to stand up, to back away from his container of flower petals. He did indeed want to leave, and it seemed Snape's words had been an invitation to do so. But for once he actually agreed with Malfoy. He wasn't at all sure he would be able to find it on his own like this. He could barely breathe, after all. Whenever he managed a breath between sneezes, he wheezed loudly. "hee-IHHChooo! hahCHOO! huhCHOO!" He was unsteady on his feet, stumbling backwards. "hah-EHHHTChooo!" Desperately, he reached out for the table but his fingers slipped on the smooth edge and his knees buckled. He hit the floor so quickly neither Ron nor Hermione could catch him. His body cushioned the fall, his head cracking against the floor secondarily.


     Several of the girls screamed in shock, and most of the Slytherins burst into fits of laughter. But Professor Snape did neither. Apart from an eye roll, he made little indication that anything had happened. Apparently a student collapsing to the floor in his class was nothing much to worry about. Ron and Hermione, squatting down on the floor to take care of Harry, looked up at him imploringly, not daring to speak. As Snape set the jar down, he sighed with frustration. "All right, Miss Granger and Mister Weasley. I want you both to take him to the hospital wing forthwith and return here immediately afterwards. I refuse to have my class interrupted further!"


     Relieved, Ron and Hermione got an unconscious Harry upright, suspended between the two of them. They headed straight out of the dungeon as fast as possible. They paused in the doorway as Snape called out to them. "Oh, and please inform Potter that he is to make his Infligere Pathos base with me tomorrow night at eight, else he will be too far behind to catch up." Snape's eyes followed them out until the door thudded shut behind. Then he wheeled around, turning to the rest of the class. His lip curled. "Get on then! Have none of you ever seen a person sneeze before? Get back to work!" They all snapped to it.




*          *          *


     "Have none of you ever seen a person sneeze before?" Snape asked from behind a hand cupped over his mouth and his large, hooked nose. He turned his greasy-haired head down, cheeks burning on his pale face. "hitch! hetchhh! ihhktchh! ihhtchhh!" The sneezes were so fast that he dared not lower his hand and reveal the terrible display of him sneezing to the whole class.


     Professor Sprout was walking briskly down the isles, her normally graying, flyaway hair tucked today not beneath a pointy witch's hat but beneath a garland of dancing flowers. "Mister Snape, is everything all right?" she asked the third year, cowering at the back of the classroom in the last seat at the last desk, trying to blend in with the plants.


     He was doing an awful job of not being seen, and not simply because his frequent sneezes pointed him out. The plants around him were all bright green, bursting with life and blossoms of all colors possible. Whereas Severus Snape was black and white from robes and hair to face. "ihhChh! ehhTchh! ihkshh! ihhSHH!" He looked up at her, his eyes watering. "thinkihaveallergy," he mumbled, ashamed, and dropped his head back down.


     "You say you think you have an allergy?" She put a very Hufflepuffian hand on his shoulder for comfort, and he shrugged it off at once. It was bad enough the whole class was staring at him. He didn't need to be made out to be a baby in front of everyone who already considered him a waste of space. "Could you point out to me which one is making you sneeze?" She asked, apparently prepared to stop class completely for this matter. "Is it the hyacinth?" she asked, pointing at the plant closest to him. It was a ball of purple flowers at the end of a tall stem. Its scent was so strong it practically drowned out the rest of the flowers on the table.


     Today they were learning how to preserve the magical quality within flowers when drying them for potions. It was something Snape, with his affinity for potions, had been quite eager to learn. That is, of course, until the sneezes had started. "huhCHHH! ihhCHIHH! uhhKShhh!" Snape nodded weakly and quickly switched hands, rubbing his wet one on his robes. And now he just wanted to stop sneezing and have everyone start ignoring him again.


     "Ah, of course. Not to worry. You're not the first and I expect you won't be the last. But I think it's best if you go off to the hospital wing right now. Madam Pomfrey will know how to fix you right up." Despite him trying to shake her off again, she helped him down off his stool. "Would you like anyone to escort you over there, just in case?"


     Snape looked up, his dark black hair hanging over his face. He looked past the strands of hair to see the whole class of third year Ravenclaws and Slytherins staring at him. They looked as though he were some diseased person who wanted nothing more than to purposely interrupt their lesson. Then he snapped forward again with more sneezes. "ihhKtshhh! ehhTchhh! ihhtch! ehhhTCHUH!" From somewhere in front of him, he heard a few laughs. Snape kept his eyes closed against it all and shook his head. No, of course there was no one to take him to the hospital wing.


     "All right then, on your way, Dear." He opened his eyes briefly to grab his bag, sling it over his shoulder, and race from the greenhouse. He was hot, wishing that the red in his cheeks was only from the heat of the greenhouse or the pace at which he was walking rather than embarrassment, but knowing differently. He could hear the laughter in the back of his mind and only hoped, desperately, that he would not run into Potter or any of his pathetic little gang on the way to the hospital wing. And, luckily, it was one wish that was granted this morning.


     Madam Pomfrey greeted him with her usual welcoming smile and her critical, evaluating eyes. "Now, what seems to be the problem with you?" she asked, misinterpreting the flush in his cheeks and feeling his forehead for fever.


     "I... ihhhTchh! I was in hehtchhhh! HIHKshhh! Herbology and... and... IHHHKshhh! ihhTchuhh!"


     She understood at once, with a bit of a laugh herself. "Ohhh, the hyacinth I take it?" He nodded glumly. "Yes, I was wondering who it would be this year. Go on, sit down on this cot here, Mister Snape, and I'll put you right again right away."


     Snape sat down, helping himself to a few tissues on the box by the side of the bed. He glanced around the ward, finding it utterly deserted. For this he felt quite thankful. He really didn't want more people to witness this uncontrollable bout of sneezing. "ihhKshhh! ehhTCHAHH!"


     "Bless you," sang Madam Pomfrey upon her return, holding out a tray. Upon it rested two glasses and a bottle. She handed him a steaming goblet first, instructing him to drink it down in as few gulps as possible.


     Most eager to have his sneezes stop, Snape managed it in two. Immediately he felt a fierce tickle in his nose. He rubbed his finger beneath and snatched another tissue from the box. "IHHH..." But it backed off almost immediately, the urge to sneeze suddenly sneaking away. He gave a great sigh of relief.


     "Good, good. Now," she sat down on the cot beside him. "I have a bottle of pills here. Swallowed pills before, have you?" He nodded. Pills were typically muggle remedies, and in his home muggle anything was strictly forbidden. But he had had some sort of muggle disease as a child which weakened him, keeping him confined to bed for over a month. And to battle it they had resorted to everything possible, including some pills. "Excellent, no need for a demonstration then. I want you to take one of these an hour before your Herbology lessons from now on. Even if you know you won't be working on hyacinth, take one anyway. It may be lurking somewhere in the greenhouse. You never know. These will prevent you from having such an allergic reaction. And with any luck, you won't ever have to sneeze again from those flowers. Just be careful and remember ahead of time. And come back here when you need a refill on them. All right?"


     This was more than Snape could have hoped for. No more sneezing. No more sniffling. No more annoyed looks directed at him. No more stares and glares and snickers. "Thank you, Madam Pomfrey," he said weakly, his voice still a little unsteady and thick with congestion.


*          *          *




     Harry hovered outside the door to the dungeon potions classroom for a good minute. He had taken his pill as Madam Pomfrey had instructed, and his pockets were weighted down with handkerchiefs just in case. But he was still a bit apprehensive about it all. He did not want to start sneezing again. Not in front of Snape. Not without anyone to help him to the hospital wing again. He imagined Snape beautifully showering hyacinth petals on him from above the way Lavender had been playing with them in class the day before. And he imagined passing out again from too many sneezes only to wake up on the cold floor, Snape having deserted him and retired to bed, giving him no marks for the effort.


     The door swung open, his hand still hovering over the knob. He sprang back in surprise. It was Professor Snape, looking livid. "You are a minute and a half late, Mister Potter."


     "Sorry," said Harry strongly as he walked past Snape and set his bag down on his usual work table. "Then I'll stay a minute and a half longer. I had to take a shower after Quidditch practice," he lied, not wanting to reveal his apprehension.


     Snape made a face. "All right, though it doesn't seem to have helped any." He swung the chalkboard around and Harry saw again the ingredients and instructions for the solution. His heart skipped a beat when he saw the hyacinth blossoms on the list. "You remember the directions I gave you in class, or must I repeat them just for you?" Snape asked, staring Harry down.


     "I remember, Professor," said Harry.


     "And you have taken your pill at least an hour ago so there will be no more outbursts or personal objections to ingredients?" asked Snape.


     "I have..." said Harry, trailing off in thought. "How do you know about the pills?"


     Snape's eyes had that mad glint in them again, and Harry knew he had gone too far. "You should know better than to ask such impertinent questions, Potter! Now get to work!" he spat. But Harry saw his eyes flick away to the side for a moment. He followed their gaze, seeing a small, familiar bottle of pills there. Harry's eyes opened wide, and in a flash Snape had swept across the room, in front of the desk, and the bottle had disappeared.


     "Yes, Sir." Harry nodded and started taking out his ingredients again. He held his breath when he unscrewed his large container of hyacinth blossoms and out of the corner of his eye, he could see Snape had done the same, chest inflated, checking himself out cautiously. But neither gave even the faintest indication of sneezing. Harry smiled and buried himself in his work to keep from laughing. He should have guessed that with a nose like Snape had that his potion teacher wouldn't be able to escape allergies either. And he had to wonder, briefly, how bad Snape's wrath would have been towards him during class had he not understood exactly what Harry was going through as well. Then again, it was probably because of their sharing this allergy that Snape had appeared so unforgiving in class. Snape, like Harry, probably wanted no reminders about this similarity to each other.


     "Mind on your work, Potter!" hissed Snape. "Remember to keep your emotions to yourself or they will stay in your potion and ruin the intended emotional response from your subject."


     "Yes, Sir," Harry said, rather glad for the reminder. And glad, too, that the drinker of his potion wouldn't be cursed with feeling Harry's worry and sneezes, as he would have had Harry been forced to make the potion a day ago in class.