autumn stories: 1976, October 9, sick (4 drabbles)

day 6 prompt, Sick. OK, OK, it's not a fall-time sickness, but it is a disgusting one! A story in 4 100-word drabbles.

“What’re you doing here?”

“Sick,” Sirius croaked. Suspicious red blotches covered his face. “Pox.” He turned and stripped painfully. The rash was all over, poxes on top of poxes, and even Remus was impressed. Sirius shivered into an infirmary nightshirt and sat on the edge of the bed awkwardly.

“Pomfrey wouldn’t let me in,” Sirius said, coughing. “And I had to see you. I had to tell you I’m sorry.” He coughed again. “I fucked up, but I can’t stand losing you.” He scrubbed angrily at reddened eyes. “I’ll do anything.” He raised his chin and met Remus’ eyes. “Anything.”

“I can’t believe you poxed yourself,” Remus said for the hundredth time, and Sirius merely moaned. “Still itchy?”

“Untie me and I’ll claw my skin off.” Sirius twisted his wrists in the restraints, but Pomfrey had arranged them so that they didn’t chafe the diabolical crusting sores. He swore. “She could fix this in a minute, you know.”

“She thinks it’s justice.”

Sirius looked at Remus, still anaemic after litres and litres of Blood-Replenishing Potion, arms and legs tightly bandaged where he had been driven to gnaw nearly down to the bone.

“It’s not justice,” Sirius said. “I know that.”

The pox covered every inch of skin, including the soles of Sirius’ feet, and some internal skin surfaces as well. Despite Pomfrey’s (albeit grudging) care, by nightfall fever and delirium had set in. Sirius could barely swallow teaspoonfuls of potion, and the suppositories made him scream. Pomfrey clucked her tongue, cast a cooling charm on his bed, and went off to consult with an associate at St. Mungo’s.

Remus conjured a bucketful of ice chips and ran them over Sirius’ face, dripping ice water slowly into his mouth, combing them through his hair as Sirius’ eyes followed a waking nightmare.

Grey eyes blinked, turned to study the source of the warmth.

“Never betray you again,” he whispered in the ragged remains of his voice.

“Feeling better?” Remus murmured, eyes still shut.

Sirius nuzzled, gently. “I want to hold you.”

Remus sat and untied him. “No scratching, it’ll scar.” Spotty arms enfolded him, and Sirius listened to the strong heartbeat.

I almost stopped this heart forever, he thought.

“Remus,” he said, and then he ran out of words.

He felt rather than heard the sigh, and then there was a hand rubbing his back. “Sirius.”

What was broken began to mend.

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