Severus Snape hated the snake on his arm. He hated the way it burned whenever the Potter brat said the Dark Lord's name, and even more, the way it burned when the Dark Lord called his Death Eaters. Today, it was particularly painful: a sharp, gnawing pain.
He opened the closet door, grabbed his cloak and mask, fire-called Albus briefly to let him know he'd been called, and made his way out past the anti-apparition wards, donning the garb in his hands at the last moment.
Following the pull in his mind, he Apparated. The sound of a score of other cracks alerted him that he was not alone to be called. The Dark Lord was seated on a chair on a raised platform. Snape bent to kiss the hem of his robes, Lucius and Rockwood followed suit at his side. This was supposed to be the privilege of the chosen few, but after a long night's brewing, it was a privilege Snape could have done without. He repressed the thought deep within his Occlumentic barriers.
Snape looked up. The voice was not as high pitched as usual. It almost sounded... hoarse.
"You shall brew this for me," the Dark Lord croaked.
Taking the parchment offered, Snape's eyes widened. Pepperup? He restrained himself from saying it aloud. The Dark Lord called him to brew a potion one of his students could brew? Did he not have any of this in stock? He contented himself with a brief reply.
"Yes my Lord." The Dark Lord waved his hand in dismissal.
Several hours later, with potion in hand, Snape returned.
The Dark Lord was now reclining, his breath more raspy than usual, and his face blotchy. Severus stared. The blue-white was interrupted by yellowish blotches, and even a bit of that could almost be red. Somewhere, enough blood had managed to find its way to his face to add that color.
The Dark Lord sniffled. "Lucius! I need a handkerchief."
The startlement on Lucius' face was quickly masked, as he proffered the black handkerchief from his pocket. Voldemort put it to the nostrils on his face and blew with a horrible wet sound. Snape was glad he had not had the chance to eat.
"Severus! You took a long time."
Was he actually whining? The tone carried not the usual accusation, but the threat was still there. The Dark Lord trailed his long fingers along his wand, and Snape hastened to answer, "the potion requires it, in order to be potent."
Voldemort reached out imperiously. Snape stepped forward to place the potion vial in his hand. Quickly removing the stopper, the Dark Lord downed it in a gulp. "My Lord..." Severus stopped, as blasts of steam burst from the Dark Lord's ears, far enough to singe those nearby. The vial had contained four doses. He did not want to stay anywhere near a Dark Lord overdosed on Pepperup.
Macnair stepped up. "My Lord, are you ill?" He was either braver or stupider than Severus. Snape voted for the latter. The glare Voldemort turned on him could have lit the fires under all the cauldrons in his classroom.
The idiot dug himself a little deeper, speaking the thought that was in Snape's mind. "We've never seen you ill before, My Lord."
"Do you question me? You had no need to see. Cruci-achoo!" Voldemort's wand swung in an arc with the force of the sneeze, spluttering a muddy reddish light that hit several Death Eaters who had not been the target of his original aim. The curse seemed to work, however, as five Death Eaters collapsed to writhe under its light.
Lucius, standing next to Snape, murmured, "Bella always used to nurse him when he got like this. The rest of us knew to stay well away." Snape nodded. The Dark Lord had sent Bellatrix on a mission to the continent. Snape experienced the novel sensation of regretting her absence.
Pettigrew Apparated in with a pot of something. From the astringent smell, it contained eucalyptus, not a common ingredient in Wizarding Britain. Snape wished he had averted his eyes, as Voldemort undid the clasp of his robes and beckoned Pettigrew closer. The Dark Lord reclined, robes opening to reveal his blue-white chest. "Wormtail. You have it?"
"Yes, Master." His voice quavered, as he approached.
"Get on with it."
Pettigrew stepped closer to the Dark Lord, dipped his stubby fingers into the salve in the pot and proceeded to rub it into the white chest. It was another sight Snape could have done without, the pale skin glistening like a subterranean worm. Voldemort breathed a deep raspy breath and called, "Lucius! I require soup! Go and get me some soup. And toast. With honey." He coughed a deep, rattling cough, everyone but Pettigrew managing to escape the spray of spittle.
As Lucius turned to leave, Snape caught the relieved look on his face. He suspected someone else would deliver the soup. He only wished he had an escape of his own.
The Dark Lord leaned back in further into the chair and said the most terrifying words Snape had ever heard. He wracked his brain for an escape, as the Dark Lord whined, "I'm bored..."
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling. I just play here.
Notes: This story was written originally for the Harry Potter Last Author Standing community on LiveJournal. Each story had to be 1,000 words or less. The prompt was: a character gets sick. This has nothing to do with Something Past Survival. I am still working on SPS, but I wanted to share a bit of crack with you.