Harry Potter was awoken by the rather unpleasant sound of someone being sick. After only a few seconds, he wished it would stop so he could get some more hard-earned sleep. He put his pillow over his head, squeezed his eyes tightly shut, and attempted to drift off once more.
Harry sighed. One problem with staying at The Burrow with his wife’s family was that there was only one bathroom, despite the number of inhabitants. Another was that said bathroom was inconveniently situated through the wall from the bedroom Harry and Ginny shared whenever they visited.
The noises continued to come through the wall and Harry wondered how long this would go on. Surely whoever it was should have finished emptying their stomach by now? And, it suddenly occurred to him, who was being sick anyway? No-one had imbibed enough the night before to justify a hangover.
He heard the sound of a slight moan, and he became worried. Perhaps whoever it was in there was very ill? Grabbing his glasses, he leapt from the bed, vaguely wondering where Ginny was and hoping it wasn’t her being sick, and went to stand by the bathroom door. Knocking, he softly called, “Are you all right?”
“Go away, Harry.”
“Hermione?” Harry said in shock. “What’s the matter?”
“I can hear that.” He paused. “Can I come in?”
His only answer was the sound of more retching, so he took that as a ‘yes’, and opened the door.
Hermione knelt before the toilet, her face ashen, and her hair in a stringy tangle. Picking up a face-cloth, Harry wet it, and wiped her forehead, pulling her hair out of the way. He looked around and spied a hair-tie, so pulled her hair into a rough pony tail. The fact that Hermione was letting him do this without argument was worrisome.
“Thanks, Harry,” Hermione smiled wanly.
“Where’s Ron? Does he know you’re sick? Can I get you anything? A glass of water? Do you need a medi-witch?” The words tumbled out almost on top of each other. Hermione looked terrible, and Harry was feeling anxious about her.
“A glass of water would be marvellous.” Hermione said, taking the face cloth and wiping her face and the back of her neck. “Ron and everyone else left early to go and buy plants for Molly’s garden. Molly asked us to spell the dinner to start at four this afternoon – she’s put everything in the Aga ready – and Ginny said to tell you not to forget or you’ll be single-handedly de-gnoming the garden before they start planting tomorrow.”
Harry grinned and handed Hermione the glass of water. “Why didn’t they wake us to go with them?”
“Molly said – and I quote – ‘Harry’s been working too hard, the poor dear. We better let him get his rest.’ Bill wasn’t too happy that he didn’t get the same consideration; he’s still suffering from Apparating across two different time-zones.”
“How about you?”
Hermione looked askance at Harry, then suddenly faced the toilet once more and began to retch. Harry put his arm around her and softly rubbed her back as she began to cry and gag alternately.
“I can’t believe Ron left you when you’re so sick,” he muttered, pulling her into a hug. She cried her misery into his t-shirt. “I think I need to call the medi-witch.”
Hermione shook her head still snuggled into his front. “I’m all right.”
“No you’re not!”
“It’s fine, Harry. I saw the medi-witch and she says this is normal.”
“Normal?!” he exclaimed. “What’s normal about vomiting so much?”
“It’s normal with Egyptian flu, Harry.”
Harry frowned. He’d not heard of Egyptian flu before, but then he’d not lived all his life in the wizarding world, and sometimes there were major gaps in his cultural knowledge.
“Who did you catch that off, Hermione?”
Hermione looked up at him as if he’d lost half his brain cells. “Who do you think?”
After settling Hermione in bed with a glass of ginger beer and a plate of grated apple, both of which Hermione said would help settle her stomach, Harry went downstairs to do some research. Pulling Mrs Weasley’s copy of ‘Witches Home Guide to Magical Maladies’ off the shelf, he sat down to find all he could about Egyptian flu. A little while later he slammed the book closed in disgust. Nothing. Not a sentence anywhere to tell him what was wrong with his best friend.
Getting up and pacing about the sitting room and kitchen, he pondered the problem. Obviously it was an uncommon illness as it was not mentioned in the book. Just as obvious, Hermione must have caught it from Bill, who was visiting from Egypt.
As he passed the fireplace, he had a thought. Hermione had said he couldn’t call a medi-witch to come and see her, but he could ask one about her symptoms. Throwing a handful of Floo powder into the fire, he called, “St Mungo’s!”
Less than two minutes later he was feeling suitably chastised as he discovered that medical matters were confidential, best friend or no.
Another thought came to him, and he tossed a second handful of Floo powder. “Hospital Wing, Hogwarts!”
“Harry, dear, how are you?” Madam Pomfrey looked slightly frazzled, and Harry could hear lots of bellowing in the background.
“I just had a question about an unusual illness. Or maybe a curse. It’s Egyptian! And Hermione-”
“Yes, Hermione would definitely be the best person to ask about such things. My how that girl can research! If that’s all, I really need to dash – there was a little…incident…in the hallway involving three Slytherins, two Gryffindors, Professor Snape, and an accidental ingestion of Weasley’s Gender Bender sweets…”
Harry gulped; he’d partaken of those sweets a month or so previously, and ended up being ‘Harriet’ for three hours. More shouting was audible through the fireplace, and Harry identified some of Snape’s sarcastic catchphrases in the background, but uttered in a feminine tone. He hated to think what Snape might be like as a woman: perpetual PMT came to mind, and Harry wished for an immediate Obliviate. Not to mention that crossed another potential source of information off the list. Not that he’d seriously considered asking Professor Snape for help, but still… at least he’d have been a last resort.
Saying his farewells, Harry pulled his head out of the Floo, and frowned. He heard running up above, the bathroom door slam, and the sounds of more retching. Poor Hermione was at it again.
Heading over to the kitchen sink, he poured Hermione another glass of ginger beer. Hopefully when Ron came home he’d be able to convince his wife of the necessity of seeing a medi-witch.
Suddenly a series of pops erupted around him, as the Weasley’s Apparated into the kitchen, Ron elbowing Harry in the stomach as he arrived almost on top of him. Gasping, Harry saw red – being knocked breathless was the last straw, particularly when the blow came from his best friend who should have stayed at home looking after his other best friend.
“How could you leave her!” he bellowed in outrage, not caring that Ron now had ginger beer splashed down his front. “She’s been throwing up all over the place, and refuses to let me call a Healer or medi-witch!”
Ron took a step back in surprise at getting yelled at so unexpectedly.
“And you!” Harry turned to Bill, whose eyebrows rose in surprise at also being singled out for the wrath of Harry. “You carried some strange illness with you, or triggered some curse, and I can’t find out anything about it!”
Ron grabbed Harry’s arm. “What’s wrong, mate?”
“As if you didn’t know – Hermione’s puking her guts out every other minute, and she says it ‘normal’!”
“What’s this about a curse?” asked Bill. “I don’t think I did anyth-”
“Of course you must have,” interrupted Harry. “Hermione said it was you, and you’re the only one who could have carried Egyptian flu here.”
“Egyptian flu?” gasped Ron, spinning around and heading for the stairs. “That can’t be good for her in her condition!”
Ginny and Mrs Weasley, who had been lurking in the background, both started to giggle.
Ron turned around and looked at them in shock. “What’s so funny? Hermione could be dying!”
Ginny burst into another round of giggling, and Harry glared at her insensitivity. But Mrs Weasley patted her youngest son on the shoulder. “Ron, dear, Egyptian flu is quite normal – nausea and vomiting are the symptoms, and they should be gone in a few weeks.”
“A few weeks!” chorused the male faction. Perhaps with a bit of training, they could become a choir. Even Fred and George, who had been grinning to themselves at the scene unfolding before them, were stunned.
“I suffered with it six times,” Mrs Weasley reminisced. “The only thing that helped was ginger beer. Your father got very good at making it – I’ll have to ask him to make a batch; that bought stuff is nothing on homemade.”
“Mrs Weasley,” Harry said through gritted teeth, reverting to a more formal mode of address from years past, “would you please let us know what is wrong with Hermione?”
“She’s pregnant, dear. Didn’t Ron say? I thought he was going to tell you this morning. I only guessed because she looked so much like me when I was first carrying.” Mrs Weasley frowned. “Oh, that’s right, you were asleep when we left.”
Harry threw a startled glance at Ron. “Congratulations, mate!”
“But,” Ron’s face was a study of befuddlement, “what’s that got to do with Egyptian flu?”
“Egyptian flu, dear, lasts nine months,” Mrs Weasley explained, and Harry, Ron and the other Weasley males all blanched, whilst Ginny continued her uncontrolled giggling, “and at the end of it you’re a Mummy!”
The mere males all felt their jaws drop open, before laughing uproariously.
“Well,” said Bill, “I think that lets me off the hook for being at fault!”
Author’s Note: Thanks so much to Katieay, RG and Felina Black for betaing. Also, to the late-night crowd in the PhoenixSong chatbox - this one is for you.
Note: In case you were wondering, an ‘Aga’ is a classic British cooker/stove/oven. I’ve had Mrs Weasley being able to spell her food into not starting to cook until they want it to, but in reality, the cooker is always on. Great to sit in front of on cold mornings or evenings! http://www.aga-rayburn.co.uk/14.htm