Title: Fussing

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Harry Potter

Rating: G

Parings: none

Spoilers: Order of the Phoenix

Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter and all the other concepts and lovely characters. I write this only in fun, I mean no harm, I get no money from this.

Summary: Harry's spending his sixteenth birthday at The Burrow and hoping not to be fussed over when he comes down with the sniffles.

Notes: The bulk of this was written for July 31st 2003 (Harry's Birthday) but it wasn't completed until September 2003






     Harry tried to grip his broom more firmly, but his hands kept slipping on the handle from the rain. He reached up and dragged a wet hand beneath his nose, not getting much at all from the action. Every bit of him felt cold and wet and achy. He had agreed to practice with Ginny and Ron to get ready for the upcoming year, playing chaser with Ginny one moment and seeker the next. But he hadn't counted on the practice running quite so long, nor it being quite so cold out for the middle of the summer, nor being quite so rainy. Nor, truthfully, feeling quite as poorly as he did. He had been fighting a head cold all day. Fighting being the operable word as he did not really want the whole Weasley clan fussing over him as he knew they would. Unfortunately, it was a fight he was quickly losing, with no help from the present weather conditions. Giving up his pursuit for the snitch, he splashed down into the mud not a moment to soon. He lifted his hand back to his nose and sneezed wetly, snapping forward. "heh-EHKshhhhh! EHchhushh!"


     Harry looked up, scanning the sky through the rain and clouds, but saw nothing of the others. "Ron?" he called, looking around and wondering if perhaps he had flown too far away from the practice area. He snapped forward again with sneezes "ehhChushhh! Ehshushhh!" He sniffled wetly and looked around again, finally seeing Ron and Ginny touch down far to his left.


     "Had to round up the balls, Mate," Ron said, fighting against the one old bludger they had to practice with, which was slow and stupid and so bad at its job that it did not matter that they were practicing without beaters. "And Ginny caught the snitch, thanks to her practice last year when you were off the... Harry?"


     "hehEKshhhh! Ihkshhhh!" Harry sneezed again, trying to make the sneezes sound much more of a product of the weather than his illness. He failed abysmally, however.


     Ron handed the balls over to Ginny with a sigh, reached over and felt Harry's forehead so swiftly that Harry did not pull back until Ron had already felt it for a few moments. "You're sick!" he exclaimed with a bit of a frown and a bit of shock. Harry shook his head, trying to deny the accusation. But Ron was quite convinced he was correct. "You feel like you're on fire, and you're sneezing in doubles like you do every time you get sick." He looked Harry over suddenly, as though seeing him for the first time. "Bloody Hell, Harry! You're soaking wet! Why'd you let us drag you out here if you weren't feeling well?" He grabbed Harry by the arm and started marching him back towards the house. "Ginny," he called back. "You're all right with the balls?"


     Ginny scowled. "Ooooh that's nice. Just leave me here with all three and a broomsticks to manage? Thanks!"


     Harry stopped and pulled away from Ron. "I'll help you," he said, swooping down and picking up the quaffle. Then he snatched the snitch from her hand as she released it. Even with a cold, his snitch-catching reflexes did not suffer too badly. He turned away from them both quickly as coughs seized him. The aches and congestion were overpowering. And as much as he wanted to be taken back to The Burrow, he knew what awaited him there and he was not keen to meet it quite yet. "ehhCheshhh! uhhCHushhh!" he sneezed again, this time into the crook of his arm as his hands were occupied with a snitch and a broomstick each; he held the quaffle against his body and under his other arm.


     With a decided nod to each other, Ginny took up Harry on one side, and Ron on the other. They forced him to turn, then started him back towards the house once again.


     "What's all this?" Harry asked with a laugh as he looked from one's serious expression to the other's.


     "You're sick, so we're taking you back," said Ron resolutely, tightening his grip on Harry's upper arm.


     "Out of the rain, so you won't get any worse," added Ginny, tightening her grip as well so Harry felt trapped between the two stubborn red-heads.


     "I'm not that... sick..." managed Harry, his nose itching and tickling again. He pulled hard, getting his arm back from Ginny so that he could bury his nose in it once more to cover his sneezes. The action made them both stop, but Harry sneezed before either one could protest. "uhhChushhhh! ehhTChhhhh!"


     Ginny grabbed his wrist and Ron took the first step forward as they continued along. The house seemed much further away on the return trip than it had at the beginning of their outing. Harry was sure that had to do with how much his head ached now. "Just... just don't tell you Mum yet, all right?" he pleaded with them. "She'll be so concerned and make a fuss, and she has enough to worry about right now." Ron and Ginny both seemed to understand, though Ginny's nod of agreement was somewhat delayed. With all that had been happening for the last few months, they all certainly had enough to worry about already.


     They went in the front door, Ron and Ginny not letting up for a moment even as they went inside. They crossed the living room towards the stairs when Mrs. Weasley called out to them from the kitchen. "Didn't forget to wipe those muddy feet on the doormat, did you?"


     Ginny sighed and Ron groaned. "Mum doesn't need magic. She's got a sixth sense about these things already," Ron grumbled as all three of them turned back to give the doormat a nice helping of mud and rain as they dripped.


     Then, again, they almost made it to the stairs when Mrs. Weasley's voice came through from the kitchen, "Harry, Dear, do you have a moment?"


     Harry grinned as he pulled free from his two captors. "Coming!" he called back before either could yell back an excuse for him. He entered the kitchen with Ron and Ginny at his heels.


     Mrs. Weasley was bent over to pull something out of the stove, examine it, then push it back in for longer. She looked over her shoulder briefly to see them standing there, all drenched and trying not to shiver. "Harry, Love, you never told me what you wanted for dinner," she said, the smile in her voice shining through even though her back was still to him.


     Harry rubbed the back of his neck a bit nervously. In truth, he didn't really feel like eating anything at all. "Whatever's easiest," he replied with a shrug. "I love everything you make."


     She looked back at him, grinning. "Well! Isn't that nice of you to say?" Her cheeks were red, but she was clearly pleased at the compliment. "But surely you must have a favorite?"


     Harry shivered, glad Mrs. Weasley had looked away just then and missed it. Ginny and Ron did not, however. Ron rubbed his hand up and down Harry's back, and Ginny took the balls back from Harry, having set her broomstick down on the table. Ginny gave Ron a 'you take care of this' sort of look, and went out the back door to stash the balls in their box.


     Ron did indeed take care of things. "Harry told me he really liked that stew you made last week," Ron said, thinking fast and catching Harry's eyes. Harry rubbed at his nose and nodded approvingly at the choice. "We're going upstairs to dry off," Ron announced quickly, then grabbed Harry and pulled him back through the door and up the stairs. Harry had a fleeting glance at the Weasley's grandfather clock, seeing that while several of the hands representing the members of the family pointed to 'home' and a few others, including Mr. Weasley's and the twins', pointed to 'work', Percy's pointed to traveling and both Bill and Charlie's pointed to 'mortal danger'. Harry grimaced, thinking about what was happening right now and felt considerably worse still. "Don't worry about them," Ron hissed quietly in his ear as they climbed the stairs, seeming to have stolen a look at the clock himself. "With Charlie's work, his hand's almost always there. And Bill, well, his went there a few weeks ago when he was helping track down those death eaters and it got stuck. He's probably at home sipping hot chocolate and--"


     Rubbing his nose only went so far, and Harry simply could not hold back the tickling sensation in his nose any longer. "uhhChushhhh!" he sneezed, finding himself leaning against Ron for support as his body shook and snapped forward again. "ehhh-Chuhh!" Ron put his arm around Harry to support him better, which was easy to do as Ron was the taller of the two.


     Ron smiled as he led Harry into the bathroom and pulled his shirt off over his head. "I almost thought you'd only get one sneeze that time," Rom mused. "I should have known better." Ron had seen Harry through quite a few colds, during their time at Hogwarts. Though, Harry constantly reminded him, most of those were colds he had caught from Ron himself. "Into the tub," Ron called, plugging up the bathtub and running the water, testing it to be sure it was warm, but not too hot. He pulled one of the thickest, fluffiest towels they had out from beneath the sink counter. "And dry off all you can, especially your hair," he said, draping the towel over the bar by the bathtub. He paused, his ears a bit red, and not from the bath's steam. "You will be all right bathing alone, won't you?"


     Whether it was meant to be funny or not, the question made Harry smile. "I'll be all right. It's just a cold."


     Ron nodded, trying to keep his eyes off Harry as his friend unzipped and pulled his wet jeans down with a bit of difficulty. They were tight and wet and clung to him. "I'm off to change," said Ron. "But then I'll be outside, just in case you need me. Just give a yell, all right?"


     Harry smiled again, trying to look comfortable with it all, and nodded. "Thanks, Ron."


     The bath was better than he could have imagined it. Though he was already soaking, more water seemed like just the thing once he had slipped into it. The warmth soothed the aches in his muscles and the steam cleared away a bit of his congestion. When he finally got out and dried off, he felt ready for bed and a long nap. What he found, as he emerged in nothing but the towel, were both Ron and Ginny waiting for him outside. Ginny looked nearly as embarrassed to see him in his birthday suit as Ron, but both ushered him into Ron's bedroom, into his warmest pair of pajamas, and right into Ron's bed. Ginny brought over a quilt from her room, draping it over Ron's Chudley Cannons bedspread. Then she leaned forward and felt Harry's forehead. "You're right Ron, he is burning up," she said, frowning.


     Harry pushed her hand away with a sigh. "Really, stop fussing and let me sleep and I'll be fine." His nose, on the other hand, had a different opinion and sounded it quite suddenly. "ehhhHishhhh! ehhhCheshhh!" He sniffled and closed his eyes, trying to pretend that two pairs of eyes were not staring critically back at him.


     Ginny sighed. "No way we can hide this from Mum for long."


     "And what exactly would you be hiding from me?"


     Ron and Ginny turned around sharply to see their mother in the doorway, wearing an apron and a less friendly expression. Harry, who could see her partially in between her two youngest children, slid down beneath the covers until just his eyes and above showed over the covers. "Um, nothing!" Ron lied terribly.


     "No... nothing!" Ginny confirmed with a lie even worse than Ron's. Apparently having the twins as older brothers had taught them absolutely nothing about lying convincingly.


     "heh-Ehhhshhh! uhhhCheshuhhh!" Harry sneezed again, wishing very hard that he hadn't.


     Mrs. Weasley pushed past to look down at the bed and what could be seen of Harry, who was now sniffling. He thought briefly about pulling out from beneath the blankets quickly to grab a tissue or two, but decided against him as Mrs. Weasley rounded on him. "And just when were you going to tell us you were sick?" she asked, hands on her hips.


     "I was hoping not to have to," Harry admitted, his voice so muffled by the blankets that he was barely understandable.


     It was Mrs. Weasley's turn to feel his forehead and frown. Harry noticed how all three of them had the same frown, at least when it came to him. "I'll start brewing some Pepper-up potion right away for you, Dear," she said, her tone now a soft, soothing one. "You don't feel much like having dinner do you?" Harry shook his head, though she continued on without letting him answer. "No, of course not. You don't have to eat a thing until you're hungry again. And we can have a proper dinner with you another time to celebrate if you like. You poor thing." She bent down and kissed his forehead, very much avoiding the scar on it. "So sick. And on your birthday at that!"


     Harry closed his eyes, not because he was tired or embarrassed or even depressed at the fact. Truthfully, he had to sneeze again. "uhhhHeshhh! ehhChushhh!"


     Mrs. Weasley grabbed a few tissues from the box on Ron's desk and rubbed Harry's nose for him even though he had reached out a bit from beneath the blankets for them. "Bless you, Dear. Why don't you try and get a little sleep now?"


     Harry nodded and said a muffled thank you as Mrs. Weasley headed out. "Ginny, would come with and make some tea for Harry while I work on the potion and the dinner?" Ginny nodded, gave Harry a helpless smile, and followed her mother downstairs. Harry could hear Mrs. Weasley's mutterings until she went through the doors to the kitchen. "All these dinner guests and he won't even be here to eat... the poor thing, probably didn't want the celebration called off... just like him not to want anyone worrying over him or making a fuss..." Apparently knowing that Harry didn't want people smothering him was not going to keep her from doing so to him, however.


     "Well," Ron said, sitting down on the edge of the bed. "That was relatively painless, now wasn't it?"


     "And Ronald Weasley!" came Mrs. Weasley's voice again. "You come down here right now and help me with this stew if you're so keen to have it for dinner!"


     Harry and Ron laughed as Ron rolled his eyes. "Knew it was too good," he muttered, standing back up. "You'll be all right?"


     Harry nodded, quite glad to be alone again with his cold. Ron was an excellent caregiver, but sometimes smothered him as much as his mother would. Harry watched him turn and leave, hesitate in the doorway, then continue on down without risking a look back. He turned onto his side, extending his arm out to grab a few more tissues, before retreating almost entirely back beneath the covers of an unfamiliar bed to try and get some sleep. He missed his great big four poster with the four pillows and endless layers of blankets. He missed being able to hide behind the hangings of his bed. And he missed everything else about Hogwarts that made it feel like his home. He felt as though he had been shuffled around so much in the past year, from the Dursley's to Grimmauld Place to school and back again so many times. And now at The Burrow. But it was still his bed at Hogwarts that he wanted to be in when he felt sick and miserable.



~ * ~





     Harry opened his eyes, finding the room dark and the covers tucked around himself more tightly. He struggled to pull himself out from beneath the blankets as the light footsteps neared.


     "Lumos!" he heard a familiar voice say, and knew at once who it was.


     "Professor Lupin?" he asked, suddenly wishing that he hadn't. His voice sounded rough and the effort of speech made him cough.


     Lupin pulled over Ron's desk chair and sat in it beside the bed. He rubbed Harry's back gently until the boy stopped coughing, then handed over a small cup of tea. "I drew the short straw and got to bring you this," he said, and Harry was almost certain that there was a joking quality to his normally soft and serious voice. "Tonks was hopping mad."


     Harry pulled himself up from the covers to a sitting position and took a sip of the tea. It was a bit too hot for what he was expecting, and he found himself gasping in through his nose, which was more like a strong sniffle, and then fanning his mouth afterwards.


     "Sorry," Lupin said, wincing. "I should have cooled it." He tapped the cup twice with his wand. "Ceald!" he whispered. The contents of the cup, from what Harry could see by Lupin's wandlight, swirled on its own, then settled back down. When he took another small sip, it was merely warm, but the good sort of warm that reminds you of how hot it used to be. "So how are you feeling?" Remus asked softly, absentmindedly straightening the wrinkles out on the blankets.


     With a shrug, Harry answered, "Not very well, really." Then, truthfully, "This is my second cold since Sirius... well..." he still could not bear to say it. No matter how many times people insisted Sirius was gone, it just didn't feel right. It was like his parents in a way, without bodies to mourn. But look at how many times his parents or part of them had touched him even when they were dead.


     "I know," Lupin replied softly, sounding just as sad. "I haven't been feeling well myself, either since it happened." He reached over and patted the top of Harry's head. "It's all right to be sad, though. And it's all right to get sick. There are loads of us to take care of you." He sighed and closed his eyes. "Though I know you probably want Sirius and can't have him. But he's looking down on you. And he'd want you to feel better, I know he would."


     Lupin's words were a rush of sentiment Harry had never seen the man express so openly. Though it didn't help Harry to feel much better, at least Lupin was concerned about him and understood that he would have preferred Sirius' care to theirs. He could imagine Sirius coming in Lupin's sleep to haunt him for not taking good care of Harry, in fact. And this image cheered him up a little.


     He felt the need to sneeze again, and felt a little hesitant about it. Was Professor Lupin going to be as bad as Mrs. Weasley? He retrieved a tissue for himself and held it to his face as his breath caught. "hehUhshhhhh! ehhChushhhh!" But as he blew his nose and looked up, Lupin only smiled sympathetically and gave him a nod. Harry liked that. The last thing he wanted was to be smothered right now.


     Lupin had a sort of dreamy look on his face after that, one Harry recognized all too well. "Let me guess," he said with a smile, "I sneeze like my father?"


     Lupin shook his head. "Oh no. James sneezed in singles or in huge fits, nothing in between. And he always seemed much more miserable and dramatic when he sneezed." Lupin chuckled and leaned in closer, a hand up to his mouth to let his whisper carry clearly to Harry. "If you ask me, he did it most times for the attention." Harry laughed. "But your mother... your mother always sneezed in doubles, though she very rarely caught ill." He chuckled again, rubbing the back of his neck. "Ah, but yours truly on the other hand... every other month, I'm telling you. Must have caught everything there was to catch by the time I was out of Hogwarts. But your father and Sirius were the best of caretakers, though you wouldn't know it by looking at them."


     "Did they smother you?" Harry asked, by now completely distracted from his own ailment.


     "No, not really," laughed Remus Lupin. "They'd poke and prod and tease me every time I had to sneeze. Got so annoying that I'd hurry up and get well just to be rid of them."


     "I can believe that!" said Harry with a laugh. He wished Sirius were there to tease him for sneezing. He could just see Sirius now, making fun of how he sneezed in doubles... in rather the way Ron called attention to them. But Sirius would still be concerned for him and pass him tissues when needed.


     "I was cleaning out some of the boxes in his room the other day," Lupin said, changing the subject completely, and looking away from Harry. It was clear who he was speaking about though he did not say. Harry thought he saw tears in Lupin's eyes, though it was hard to tell by wandlight. "And I came across something marked for you. It had the number 16 by it and, well, I can only assume it was meant to be a birthday present so I brought it along. I'm sure he wanted you to have it at any rate, but it didn't feel right wrapping it." Lupin took out a small box and thrust it into Harry's hands.


     Setting the balled-up tissue aside, and still sniffling, Harry carefully opened the box. "A snow globe?"


     Lupin grinned. "Look at it." Harry gazed into it, seeing the faint outline of Hogwarts through the snow. As the flakes settled, he saw a giant tentacle whip out of the lake and wave at him before pulling back beneath the frothy surface. Harry grinned, looking up at Lupin. He wanted to be back at Hogwarts, but this was the second best thing.


     "Look again," Lupin urged, gesturing towards it. Harry flipped it over and studied it carefully as the snow cleared away. He saw, to his astonishment, himself on a broomstick, reaching out and making a spectacular catch of a remembrall with professor McGonagall looking out of her office window at him.


     "It will always show you Hogwarts, but a different event each time," Lupin told him. "Well, eventually it will start repeating. There are only about a hundred different ones in there. But Sirius and I spent all last year trying to come up with as many as we could. Some from our time there, and many from yours. We even asked Hagrid and Dumbledore for some help in filling in gaps. Excitedly, Harry looked again, searching desperately for the next thing. But there was nothing. No movement at all except for some falling flakes. No... that wasn't true at all, he realized, his eyes almost hurt from looking so hard at it all. There was a line being drawn in the snow as though someone were making a path from the castle right over to the Whomping Willow. And there it was, the cloak being pulled off to reveal a stag and a big black bear of a dog, and a little rat which ran up to the trunk and prodded the knot to make the branches freeze. Harry sighed. Even seeing Wormtail there didn't make him feel bad for there was Sirius' image, alive and well and certainly up to no good on his way over to visit Lupin as a werewolf.


     With a deep breath, he shook it again and when the snow settled, there it was, the scene by the lake with the hundred Dementors after Sirius. There were Hermione and Harry passing out, and there was Harry and his patronus across the bank frightening them all away. He watched intently, wishing he could reach out and touch Sirius the way his image inside was touching the smoky stag. "Thank you," Harry breathed as the images faded away inside the glass ball. And now he was close to tears as well.


     Lupin seemed to know that the thanks wasn't directed solely at him. "Sirius wanted to be sure you knew that even in times like these, there can still be good times. And he wanted to be sure you remembered some of them even after you leave Hogwarts." Harry had never had what one might consider a normal childhood, before Hogwarts or during. And Sirius had never really grown out of his childhood entirely. It was an odd pairing of memories to have together in the same globe. But Remus, who had been forced to grow up quite fast as well, knew Harry would enjoy them.


     "ihhh-Uhhshhhh! ehhhCheshhhhh!" Harry sneezed quite suddenly. Lupin wrapped his hand around Harry's to secure the globe, and passed him a tissue from the box as nonchalantly as possible.


     "I think perhaps I should let you get back to sleep," said Lupin, adjusting Harry's blankets for him as slipped down beneath the covers. "I'm not fussing," he added, reaching up and rubbing Harry's head to mess his hair playfully. "I'm... teasing... without the actual jabs."


     Harry smiled. His nose tickled again, and he didn't mind as much. "ehh--"


     "Sneeze!" Lupin sharply commanded, staring right at Harry's nose.


     The tickle left as suddenly as it had arrived, and Harry found himself laughing before and after a fierce yawn.


     "Ah, now it really is time to get to sleep," said Lupin, patting his arm through the blankets. Harry nodded, closing his eyes. Something strong had been in that tea and now it was kicking in. He hugged the snow globe to his chest beneath the blankets but still felt the gentle pats as he drifted off to sleep. Someone would no doubt be by his side when he woke, but really he didn't mind being fussed over so much any more.