Chapter Thirteen

Once out of the fireplace, Harry stopped dead in his tracks. The living room was filled with people, with Ginny Weasley in the chaos’ midst, trying to bring order. She wasn’t succeeding.

On the side of the couch sat Draco. He met Harry’s gaze briefly and Harry winced at how the blonde looked. He didn’t appear to be any better off now than he’d been in the morning. Suddenly, Harry felt guilty for leaving without telling the boy where he was going.

He walked through the living room to the Master bedroom and set his purchases away in his closet to be wrapped later on. Returning back into the living room, he looked briefly about the room.

All the people he saw had been at the party at the Weasley Castle as well. He saw a few Weasleys; close to the balcony stood Fred talking with Angelina. For once, the other Weasley twin wasn’t right next to him, although he could very well be some place close by. Ron and Hermione were there as well, Harry noted with a smile. They had sat down next to Draco and Hermione looked like she was checking if he had a fever – her hand was on the blonde’s forehead. Harry smiled at Hermione’s huge stomach; it wasn’t long ‘till her due-date.

Sirius and Remus stood talking with Severus, Harry noted with surprise. Remus and Severus looked completely at ease together, although Sirius didn’t look completely comfortable with it.

There were a few other people – Harry thought he’d heard someone in the kitchen and it looked like a few were in the smaller bedroom next to the living room.

Harry made his way over to the couch.

“Harry! There you are!” Hermione exclaimed. She made an attempt to stand, but Harry stopped her.

“You can sit, I don’t mind,” he said with a grin.

She pouted and said, “I’m huge. Can’t do anything.”

He gave her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. “You’re beautiful.”

“You sound just like Ron,” Hermione said. “You should try being in my shoes some time.”

“I don’t think your shoes would fit me,” he replied with a small grin.

“Oh, I know,” Hermione continued in her pouting tone. “Still, you should try this for just one day, and you’d be much more supportive of me.”

“You’re saying we aren’t supportive?” Harry asked.

She glared at him. “You’re making fun of me.”

“I just told you that you look beautiful,” Harry said, slightly exasperated.

She gave him another look, and Ron, who’d been following the conversation with interest, laughed. Draco was leaning back into the couch, his eyes closed, looking very small and fragile. Unlike Ron, he didn’t look like he’d been listening to Harry and Hermione at all. Harry’s heart went out to him; he looked bad.

“How are you?” he asked quietly.

Draco opened his eyes to look at him. “I’m fine, Harry,” he said. “Don’t worry.”

Hermione moved to the side of the couch, allowing Harry to sit down in the middle, between herself and Draco. He did so, both wanting and dreading what could happen. Still, it was a room full of people – neither could throw a fit with that much of an audience and they weren’t expected to be snogging. Maybe this was the best time to comfort.

He sneaked a hand behind Draco’s shoulders – only for show, for Hermione and Ron, he told himself. Nothing more… It had absolutely nothing to do with the need to comfort the blonde.

Draco sat stiffly for a moment, before relaxing into Harry. It was strange; Harry could feel the weariness radiating off the Slytherin. For a brief moment, he let himself give Draco the Healing Warmth, before stopping himself. Draco looked up at him and gave him the smallest of nods. As he settled back into Harry’s embrace, the raven-haired boy began giving strength to Draco.

Hermione and Ron were speaking to each other and Harry returned his attention to them, as Draco seemed to lull off into some semi-sleep.

“Ginny is really into this,” Ron was saying with a grin at his little sister, whom was running around, speaking briefly with each occupant of the room.

“She’s one of the best things that ever happened to the Order,” Hermione said. “Dumbledore can’t take care of everything and she’s really good at organizing. She gets things done.”

“Have you talked to her today?” Harry asked. “You know what’s going on?”

Hermione shook her head. “Nope,” she said. “I know she met with Dumbledore after she left here, and they came up with the plan. Apparently, things need to get going, ‘cause otherwise the meeting wouldn’t have been ‘till tomorrow.”

“Well, the vision was awful,” Harry said quietly.

“I know. They always are. Draco didn’t tell us much, though,” Hermione said with a look at the blonde. Her eyes softened as she saw Draco, half-asleep.

“I’m sure Ginny will tell us,” Ron said. “Looks like she’s about to start the actual meeting.”

Harry looked up to see Ginny floating a foot above the ground, making her a bit taller than everyone else, and capturing most of the people’s attention. She stayed silent until the room had become quiet.

“I thank you all for coming here with such short notice,” she said. “Also, thanks to Draco and Harry, who’ve let us hold the meeting here.

“Last night, Mr Malfoy had a vision. I won’t tell you its exact content, for it would take too long, and time is something we don’t have. Therefore, I would ask the following to step up.

“Dean Thomas.”

The young black man, whom Harry hadn’t noticed until now, looked up from the corner where he was standing with Seamus Finnigan. He walked over to Ginny.

“Angelina Johnson.”

Angelina left her fiancé after squeezing his hand shortly. Both twins were unusually quiet and Katie didn’t look much better.

“Neville Longbottom.”

Harry looked around. Neville was here? He gaped as he saw a young man step forth. He was only vaguely similar to the chubby boy Harry knew. This young man was about Harry’s height, well built, with short dark hair. The only thing that proved it was still the same person Harry knew was the slight shyness in his movements as he took his place next to Ginny. There, Neville looked briefly at Ginny. Harry wondered how Draco had been able to recognize Neville in the vision at all.

“Severus Snape.”

The Potions Master strode to her side with long, confident strides.

“Now, I cannot stress enough how important it is that this operation is not crashed like the last one,” Ginny said. “I do not accept casualties if they could have been avoided. There are fifteen people’s lives at stake here, plus everyone involved in the rescue mission and I do not want as much as one of them to be wasted.”

She turned to the four she’d called forth and handed each one of the men a necklace. “These necklaces are directly linked to a few people. Firstly they are linked to Albus and me. Secondly they are linked to the person closest to you. Thirdly, a security person, chosen by me, who’s been notified already. Lastly, to Harry and Draco.”

Harry felt Draco stir at the mention of his name, and he had to admit he was startled himself, especially as Ginny hadn’t spoken to him earlier. Still, it made sense; if something happened, he and Draco and their Healing powers would be much needed. Hopefully, this time, one of them wouldn’t be on the receiving end of those powers.

“They also contain a locator so that we can find you,” Ginny continued. “That way, we’ll find you immediately, should you be kidnapped.”

“What if we don’t want you to come?” Angelina asked quietly. “It could be dangerous. You could Apparate right in front of a bullet, or something.”

“You Incapacitate it and it will be sending us a red signal until you remove it. However, I do not recommend that. This will be dangerous, no matter what we do. We’ll have to take some risks, if it can save lives.”

Angelina nodded.

A few more minutes were spent going through the details of the plan. Dean and Seamus appeared the most nervous about what they knew was about to happen. Snape’s face was set in a glare. Harry knew that the Potions Master was the least likely to be afraid; after all, he had been a Death Eater. He knew he wasn’t any longer; he’d overheard Snape’s story from Lavender Brown at the Christmas party, when she’d been talking about it with her girlfriends. Apparently, the heart attack Severus had had was the result of the Cruciatus curse, placed on him for hours after he’d been found out. Harry, together with Ron, Hermione and a few other Order members, had been the ones to find him. As soon as he’d been taken off the Cruciatus curse, the heart attack had hit him. Harry had apparently been the closest to him, as the others were fighting off the Death Eaters – which was why Hermione had thought it very odd when Harry had been so surprised at the information.

Ginny finished, “I’m sorry that we can’t lock you away somewhere safe, but several Muggles have already been kidnapped, and we think Voldemort is behind those crimes. If we are to find them, we need to let you be kidnapped as well.

“Now, everyone except Ron, Hermione, Harry, Draco, Sirius and Remus are allowed to leave.”

The crowd scattered. Angelina returned to Fred, who gave her a hug. He held her tightly against him, stroking her back, comforting both himself and her. Seamus and Dean disappeared through the fireplace within moments. Severus walked over to Remus and Sirius. Harry suddenly realized that Remus must be “the person closest” to Severus. It would make sense that Sirius was a bit upset about that.

Harry watched Snape shake hands with Remus and Sirius, before he left through the fireplace.

He also saw Neville take Ginny’s hand. “Go home,” she said softly. “I’ll be there in a while.”

“I’ll be waiting.” He pushed a lock of hair out of her face and placed a gentle kiss on her lips.

She offered him a sad smile, and let him hold her. Eventually they pulled away and Neville placed a last, soft kiss on her forehead, before he left the same way as the others had.

Harry saw Ron stare at Ginny. It seemed like Ginny’s relationship with Neville was news to him as well.

“Ginny! You didn’t tell us you finally got together with Nev’,” Hermione said happily, ignoring the gaping mouth of her husband.

The young Weasley-girl blushed. “It just kind of… happened,” she said, grinning.

“But – Neville?” Ron stuttered.

“Yes, Neville,” Ginny said pointedly. “I’ll have you know that he’s been a perfect gentleman the whole time.”

“And exactly how long is ‘the whole time’?” Ron asked as Sirius and Remus came to sit down. They conjured up a second couch for themselves and Ginny to sit in.

“A month and a half,” Ginny said, meeting her brother’s gaze evenly.

Ron knew better than to go against that Look – the Look that Ginny had inherited from her mother. It told anyone – especially the Weasley-boys – that they were dangerously close to getting into something very unpleasant. Ron recognized the look from Hermione as well; perhaps it was a woman-thing, rather than a Weasley-women thing.

“Anyway,” Ginny said, pointedly changing the subject to the more important matters at hand. “I need to talk to you a bit.”

Harry watched as the group changed from the relaxed attitude, to one of business. Only Draco, still sitting with closed eyes beside him, didn’t change. Harry knew that the blonde wasn’t asleep; he seemed merely indifferent. As though he didn’t care about what was happening, as though he was… weak? Harry frowned. His thoughts were interrupted by Ginny’s continued speech.

“Hermione, I need you to stay inside until the twins are born, and for a while after that. You are weak at the moment, whether you want to admit it or not. You wouldn’t be a match for the Death Eaters.

“Albus and I would both like to ask you to always have someone with you. Inside the Castle you can move on your own of course, but not outside, even on the grounds around the Castle. So could you please…?”

Hermione nodded. “I know. I’ll be careful.”

“Good,” Ginny said with a small smile. “I don’t like it any more than you do, but at times like these… We do what we have to.

“Now, Sirius and Remus, I want you to go with Hermione and Ron to the Castle and place the heaviest wards on it to alert us if anything happens to Hermione while Ron is at work.”

“But the wards are already some of the strongest in Britain,” Remus said.

“I know,” Ginny said. “However, they aren’t the kind we need. We need something to alert us if Hermione goes into labour while she’s alone and she can’t contact us. I know it’s unlikely, but it needs to be done. So, the spells we need are self-inflicted pain – yes, ‘Mione, this is self-inflicted – wards. Can you do that?”

Sirius and Remus nodded. “It shouldn’t be too hard. To whom should we link it?”

“Ron first, then Harry and Draco. Is that okay, ‘Mione?”

“It’s fine,” Hermione said softly.

“It needs to be done very soon,” said Ginny.

“We’ll come with you now,” Sirius said to Hermione and Ron, “If that’s okay.”

Ron and Hermione agreed. Ginny smiled at them.

“Then that’s all. You four –” she nodded to Ron, Hermione, Sirius and Remus “– can go. Harry, Draco, I need you for a few more minutes.”

“Well, seeing as how we live here, you’ll be the one going rather than us, won’t you?” Harry asked her rather pointedly, as Hermione and the three men stood to leave. Harry didn’t stand with them; he only waved goodbye to them. A moment later, Harry, Draco and Ginny were the only ones left.

“Oh, right,” Ginny replied, shrugging. “Anyway, is he awake?”

“I’m awake,” the blonde said without opening his eyes.

“Okay,” said the redhead, “This is going to sound a bit… I don’t know how it’s going to sound but… I don’t want you to take it the wrong way –”

“Ginny? Just say it, perhaps?” Harry asked softly.

“Both me and Albus are worried about you, Draco.”

Draco’s eyes opened slowly to look at Ginny. “Oh yes?” he drawled, sounding very Malfoy-ish.

“Don’t be that way,” Ginny said, finding herself again. “You aren’t eating enough, you are always tired – if I’m not getting the totally wrong expression, I’m guessing you are receiving Healing Warmth from Harry as we speak.”

“And if I am?” Draco said, continuing to drawl in that very Malfoy-like tone of voice.

“No healthy person would be able to receive healing for almost an hour and still be tired, Malfoy,” Ginny said. “You should be up, high on the amount of energy in your body, not just barely be able to open your eyes!”

“And this matters to you because…?”

“Because seeing as we have an upcoming battle against at least twenty Death Eaters, if not the Dark Lord himself, I would like my only two Healers to be well enough to heal everyone else, rather than each other.” Ginny’s tone was icy, and she met Draco’s glare evenly.

“You care too much, Weasley,” Draco told her coldly. “I’m fine.”

“Shall we test it?”

For a brief moment, Harry saw some alien emotion flit over Draco’s face, but it was gone before he had time to recognize it.

“Fine,” the blonde spat. “What do you want to do to me?”

Before either boy had time to react, Ginny cast a spell at Draco. A red midst hit him, and was absorbed by his body. A moment later, the blonde began to glow with the same red colour.

“You are a Healer,” Ginny told Draco. “You should know what that means.”

Harry didn’t know what it meant, but he could guess. “I think you’re sick, Draco,” he said softly to the blonde.

“I am not!” Draco said, standing up. However, the sudden loss of Healing Warmth made him stumble forward. Harry stood and grabbed him quickly before he fell, but Draco pushed him away.

“Leave me alone,” he said, running out of the room.

“What do you think?” Harry asked.

Ginny looked away from the door through which Draco had just left, to Harry. “I don’t know. I don’t think it’s something too serious – the light wasn’t that bright – but it could still be something that needs treatment. I was serious about what I said before, Harry. We’re facing a huge operation here, and if anything goes wrong, we need to be able to count on you. If Draco’s sick, he won’t be able to heal, and you won’t be able to concentrate.”

“I’ll talk to him,” Harry said. “I’ll make him listen.”

“Good. Take him to Hogwarts to see Madame Pomfrey as soon as possible. I don’t think you can heal away the illness in him now.”

Harry nodded. “It doesn’t seem like it.”

“I’ll go now,” Ginny said. “I hope you can make him see reason.”

She walked over to the fireplace, and with another set of goodbyes, she left.

Harry moved about the room and picked up a few teacups that had been left by the guests. He set them in the sink in the kitchen, before taking a deep breath and opening the doors to the Master bedroom.

Draco lay on his stomach on his side of the bed, his head buried in a pillow. He didn’t move as Harry walked inside and stood at the end of the bed.


“Leave, Harry,” the blonde said to him.

“No, Draco, I won’t leave,” Harry said. He forced himself to be and sound completely calm; he wouldn’t get into another fight with Draco. All they did nowadays was fight, say sorry, and fight some more.

Draco turned around and faced him, sitting up. “Why not? Why can’t you just leave?”

“Because I care.”

The blonde stopped himself and whatever nasty remark he’d been on the way to deliver. The three words Harry had just uttered were apparently not the ones Draco had expected.

“Now you’re the one who looks like a goldfish,” Harry said with a small smile.

Draco closed his mouth. Harry walked to him and sat down.

“I can be your friend, Draco,” he said softly. “Not your boyfriend, not yet, and maybe not ever, but I can be your friend.”

“I thought we already agreed that we were friends, long ago,” Draco said quietly.

“That was a truce, lasting only as long as we are left in this place. We would go home and resume our roles as enemies. It wasn’t friendship.”

“And this is?” Draco asked, looking down at his hands.

“Look, Draco, I stand by what I said yesterday. I don’t know what I feel about you. But I know that I like spending time with you, and I know that I worry about you. Friendship is all I have to offer right now.”

The blonde was silent for a few seconds, before he said, “Then I accept that friendship.”

Harry smiled. “Good. Now will you listen to your friend’s friend? You are sick, Draco. We need you to be well.”

The Slytherin looked up at him. “I know that there’s something wrong with me. I – it’s been that way for months.”

“Months? How do you – oh yeah, the diary.” Harry looked a bit apologetic as he spoke of the item that had caused their last fight. “I’m sorry about shouting at you about that.”

“You’re forgiven,” Draco said quietly.

“Do you – he – does he write about it? Does he know what’s wrong with you?”

Draco shook his head. “He only writes that he’s been very tired and weak. He says he’s lost his appetite.”

“Will you come with me to Hogwarts and let Madame Pomfrey check you, then?” Harry asked.

“Why not St. Mungo’s?”

“Ginny told me to take you to Hogwarts, so that’s where I’ll take you. I think she’s frightened that you will be recognized by one of Voldemort’s spies. It wouldn’t be good if he knew you’re sick.”

“Why can’t you just heal me?” Draco asked.

“I don’t know,” the Boy Who Lived replied. “I would if I could, trust me, but you just spent an hour receiving Healing Warmth and you still could hardly stand afterwards, so it’s clearly not helping.”

“You think it’s the other way around?”

Harry looked at him. “What?”

“The other way around. Like, your healing me is really making me sick. Maybe my body is getting allergic to it or something.”

Harry processed the idea for a few seconds and then said, “I think that’s unlikely. You still get better during and after the visions when I hold you and if your theory was correct, you wouldn’t.”

Draco shrugged. “So, should we go?”

Harry nodded. “C’mon.”

Twenty minutes later, they floo-ed themselves to Hogwarts. Albus Dumbledore was in his office, looking right at the fireplace as they stepped out. Harry wondered if he’d known they would arrive at just that moment. It certainly seemed like it. He didn’t have time to ponder the question for long, however, as the Headmaster promptly led them both to the Hospital Wing.

There, Madame Pomfrey made Draco lay down on one of the beds in the corner of the wing. There were no students in the wing at the moment; the current Hogwarts inhabitants seemed to be better at staying out of trouble than the ones in Harry’s year.

Draco seemed content to be lying down once again. He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. When he opened his eyes again, he said, “Oh don’t look at me like that, Potter. I’m not dying.”

“Now, Mr Potter, if you could step away from the bed, please?” Madame Pomfrey asked him.

Harry nodded, and stepped back. As soon as he had done so, the medi-witch began casting spells at Draco, to notice any illness. She frowned as they all came back negative.

“Mr Malfoy, could you please tell me the symptoms you’ve had so far?” she asked finally. “And how long have you experienced them?”

“It started a few months ago,” Draco replied. “I was suddenly tired, much more so than usual. I used to wake up before Harry did and now I never do. Then a few weeks later, I began experiencing nausea. Real, horrible nausea that made me want to throw up, constantly. I never did; it was just sort of there, and I grew used to it, I guess, as it’s still there.”

Harry understood as Draco talked, that there were probably more than one reason why Draco didn’t want to show him his older self’s writings.

“I think it became worse after the Death Eater attack two months ago, when Harry and I were both unconscious for five days. I’m not sure, but I’ve been even more tired since. And I reacted violently to the vision after that attack – that time I did throw up.”

Harry marvelled at how calm Draco could sound whilst talking about whatever it was that was wrong with him. Neither his eyes, nor the feelings which Harry could sense because of the Heart Bind, betrayed any fear or nervousness. He looked tired, just like he had for days in a row now; his eyes slightly bloodshot and dark circles beneath. Once again, Harry thought he looked small and frail in the large hospital bed.

“Yesterday I had a vision. It took me almost five hours to come back from that,” Draco continued. “Harry was awake an hour earlier. When I did wake up, my head was foggy and heavy, and my body more tired than I’ve ever felt it.”

“And you didn’t think to tell anyone?” Madame Pomfrey asked, her words disapproving, yet the sound of them more worried than anything.

“I don’t know… I didn’t want to think about it. I thought perhaps it was the aftermath of the vision – it was a bad one, after all – and I just assumed that I… I don’t know, maybe I was getting a cold or something. Nothing serious.”

Harry wanted to scream, ‘Nothing serious?!’ at him, but refrained from doing so. He knew it wouldn’t do any good. It wouldn’t change anything. Still, Draco looked up at him, his eyes apologetic. Harry realized that Draco could feel his feelings, just like Harry could feel Draco’s.

“I’ll be fine, Potter,” the blonde told him quietly.

Harry offered him a small smile.

Madame Pomfrey stood by Draco’s bed, her face set in a frown as she tried to understand what was wrong with the young blonde man before her. As the spells had all come back negative, it told her that Draco was perfectly healthy – yet her eyes told her otherwise; the man before her was ill.

At last, she walked over to one of the many cabinets in the room and took a needle out.

“This is going to hurt a bit,” she told Draco. He nodded and she stuck the needle into his skin, drawing blood. She filled a small tube with the liquid, and drew the needle out. The tiny wound closed itself when she muttered a quick spell.

“I’ll be back in a little bit,” she said. “I need to test this.”

She hurried out of the Wing, towards her own little room. Harry and Draco watched as the large doors closed behind her.

“So…” Draco said, looking up at Harry.

“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“So that you could do what, Harry?”

“I – I don’t know. But I could have helped. We could have gotten help earlier.” He slumped down in a chair next to the bed, his shoulders falling forward in slight defeat.

“Help from whom?” Draco asked softly. “Pomfrey doesn’t know what’s wrong with me yet. Heck, the spells came back negative – maybe I’m not sick at all. Perhaps I’m just tired.”

“You don’t believe your own words.”

Draco sighed. “No, I don’t because I can feel it. There is something inside of me, making me this way. Consuming me. And I just know that there’s no way to stop it.”

“Don’t talk that way!” Harry said, standing up abruptly.

“I’m just speaking the truth,” Draco said, and as Harry was about to scream at him, he held up his hand. “Please Harry. I don’t want to get into another fight.”

Harry sat back down again, hiding his face in his hands for a second, before looking up at the blonde. It was so much easier to just scream and be angry with Draco, rather than trying to understand why he cared so much whether the other lived or died. Still, as he heard Draco’s quiet plea, he could do nothing but do as he was asked.

“I’m sorry,” he said.

“Don’t be.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Their – well, mostly Harry’s – brooding was interrupted when Madame Pomfrey re-entered the Wing, her eyes betraying worry and sadness. Harry knew the news were bad.

“What did you find?” Draco asked, again surprising Harry with his calmness.

“You – you’ve been poisoned, Mr Malfoy. And by what, I don’t have any idea.”

“Take it to Sev’, then,” Harry suggested. “He should know, or at least be able to find out.”

“I can’t,” the medi-witch said.

“Why not?”

“Potions Master Severus Snape has just been kidnapped.”

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