Chapter Fifteen
Wars Have Never Hurt Anybody
Except the Peope Who Die

Five hours later, Harry was up and about again. At the moment, he was sitting by Severus Snape’s bed, one hand on the Potions Master’s forehead, the other over the bullet wound. Severus was one of the most injured of the hostages; despite the short time he’d been kidnapped. There was some internal damage, caused mostly by the bullet wound, but also, most likely, by a long period of time under the Cruciatus Curse. The doctors wouldn’t promise Harry that his brain hadn’t been damaged – after all, people had been known to go crazy because of the curse.

He’d been sitting by Severus’ side for the last hour. After he woke up, he had quickly found his way down to the intensive care, where the several of the ex-hostages had been taken. He had found out that Neville had already been moved to another unit, as he had suffered no life-threatening injuries.

The young woman had been worse off; the bullet to the shoulder had damaged the muscle. Here the medical personnel made the most startling discoveries.

“The bullets that were used have been cursed,” a medi-wizard had told him. “The one that hit her was hexed to make healing much harder. If left in too long, the wound is irreparable. The healing you gave her most likely saved her arm and perhaps even her life. The curses start making their way through the body, disabling the possibility of full healing until the bullet is removed. It is an absolutely horrid situation for any Medi-wizard.”

Another medi-wizard had told him a few minutes later that Snape had been hit by a similar bullet. Shortly after, Harry had positioned himself by Severus’ bed, and he hadn’t moved since.

The door creaked open, and Harry looked up to see a familiar blonde standing in the doorway.

“Draco,” he said, “What are you doing here? You’re supposed to be at Hogwarts, resting.”

Draco shrugged, walking into the room. As he reached Harry, he sat down heavily into the chair next to the raven-haired young man.

“Couldn’t just sit there,” he said. “There are too many people that need my help.”

Harry stared at him and then gave him a small smile. “So now you’re Mother Theresa?”

“Who is –?”

“Never mind,” Harry said. “The doctors are happy for any help they can get. The bullets have been hexed so that the wounds won’t heal right, or won’t heal at all.”

“I know, I talked to one of the doctors,” Draco said softly, looking at Severus. “He was shot?”

Harry nodded. “And put under Cruciatus.”

“Ouch,” Draco said, before standing up. “I should go help.”

“Just take it easy, will you?”

The blonde smiled at him. “I will.”


The boy stopped and turned as he heard Harry’s voice. “Yes?”

“How did you know? Back out there – you helped me.”

Draco shrugged. “I don’t know, really. After we performed the Audiosis spell, I could suddenly see and feel parts of your surroundings. I don’t know how I did it. I don’t remember much of what happened at Hogwarts, either. Dumbledore and Ginny seemed to think it was all right; they just let me be. It might have had something to do with the Heart Bind, though.”

“I suppose. Well, whatever it was you did, thank you. I don’t think I would have come out unscathed, if at all, without you.”

The young blonde gave him a small smile. “You’re welcome,” he said and was out the door.

Hours passed. Harry didn’t move more than to stretch his arms once or twice; he just kept on giving the energy and strength he had, hoping and begging that the Potions Master would be all right.

It was strange to see the normally so alive Snape lying as if dead on the bed. He was hardly moving; only his chest rose and fell in sync with his breathing.

Again, Harry found himself thinking about how how unlikely this would have been two months ago. Two months ago in Harry’s counting, not this world’s. If he told the Hermione and Ron at home that he’d been sitting by Snape’s side for hours on end just hoping that the man would pull through after being shot, they would have thought he’d gone crazy. The Hermione and Ron of this time didn’t get upset about it; in fact they expected it, especially Hermione. It seemed that Harry and Snape had come to an agreement after the latter’s supposed heart attack.

Harry liked this slightly softer version of the Potions Master. He was in no way actually soft – Harry didn’t think that word could ever be used to describe the Professor – but he was… nicer. Slightly. He and Harry could talk civilly for a few minutes without Snape giving Harry a detention and making him lose house points – not that he could deduct house points and give detention to Harry now that he was out of school, but still.

He supposed that the heart attack Severus had had was the reason behind it all. He didn’t know it, of course – there seemed to be little he actually knew about this world – yet he assumed that a heart attack would change a person’s view on life.

He wondered what had happened back then to make Voldemort aware of the fact that Snape was a spy for Dumbledore. He also wondered why the Dark Lord hadn’t killed him this time around, now that he’d had the man in his clutches once again. Of course, they weren’t sure he would pull through all right as it was; prolonged exposure to Cruciatus was known to drive its victims insane. Add to that a cursed bullet, and no, the likelihood that Severus would be able to stand and harass the Gryffindors again was not big.

Of course, said Potions Master always had a way to prove young Potter wrong.

It was the middle of the night when Harry suddenly felt Snape stir under his hands. Severus’ eyes shot open, and he looked around him a bit wildly. When his eyes focused and he saw Harry, his body relaxed slightly.


“That would be me,” Harry said. “How are you feeling?”

“Like I’ve been shot,” Severus said, his voice hoarse and dry.

Harry let out a low chuckle. “Sounds about right. You’re in St. Mungo’s, and you’ve been unconscious for the last… ten hours or so. I suggest you get some sleep while I get one of the medi-wizards to come in here and check up on you.”

Snape nodded, his eyes falling shut. When Harry was sure that the man was asleep, he stood and removed his hands from him. The Potions Master flinched at the loss of Healing Warmth, but Harry knew it couldn’t be helped; he needed to find a Medi-Wizard and tell them that Snape had woken up.

Two days later found Harry in the basement below Mr Hanawalt’s shop, as he was about to get his first lesson in shooting. Draco stood beside him. Harry hadn’t wanted him to come; the blonde still looked worse for wear, but Draco had convinced Harry that before they knew what the poison would do to him, he might as well learn how to handle a gun.

“Okay,” said Carl. “Before we start doing anything, I am going to go over some gun safety rules. Number one – treat every gun as though it were loaded. That means no fooling around. Number two – always point the gun in a safe direction. No pointing at your friends, even if you’re only joking. There could be an accident, but as long as you’re not pointing at anyone, nothing too bad will happen. This also means no fooling around.

“Number three – keep your finger away from the trigger until you’re ready to fire. Number four – keep the action open or un-fireable as is a term you’re more likely to understand, until you’re ready to shoot. If any one of you breaks these rules, you will be thrown out of here, head first, understood?”

Harry, Draco, Ron and Bill, the group for the night, nodded.

“Good. Now, about these guns you are about to use. These are handguns. They’re designed to be held and fired with only one hand. However, you do normally use the other hand underneath for better support.”

He continued to speak of how the gun was built, telling them about the cartridge, the ammunition, the detonator and more. The four men listened intently to every word Carl said before it was time to try their hands at actually firing.

“Stand comfortably in a relaxed position. Use your free hand to support the gun from underneath,” Carl began. He continued to guide them through the position in which they should stand, point by point.

“Now, remember. Lock the non-firing arm straight, otherwise your face will be on the receiving end of the gun’s recoil,” those were his last words to them before they all fired their first bullets.

By the end of the evening, they had all learned that shooting was not as easy as it looked. Still, they managed to do fairly well. They all promised to return a few days later to train more, knowing they would need it. However, there were other pressing matters that also needed their attention at the moment.

“How are you feeling?” Harry asked as they re-entered their apartment. Dumbledore had given Draco permission to stay at home while Snape tried to find the antidote. He’d had to give the permission, as the blonde had flat out refused to spend his days in the Infirmary getting pampered by Madame Pomfrey.

“Tired, but that’s no news, is it,” the blonde replied.

“You should go to bed.”

“You coming with me?” Draco asked, his voice tired yet still managed to sound sly.

“In a little,” Harry replied, not up to playing games with the blonde.

Draco pouted for a second before disappearing into the bedroom. Harry sat down on the couch, relaxing into the pillows. His mind emptied, and he felt himself pulled off to sleep. He should go to the bed, he really should…

“Get up, lazybones,” Draco said to him from the doorway.

Harry opened one eye to glare at him. The blonde had changed into boxers and a black shirt; his usual attire for sleeping.

“Go ‘way,” Harry muttered.

Draco walked over and pulled him roughly up from the couch. He landed only inches away from Draco. Their gazes met for a moment before Harry quickly moved away. Neither said a word as they walked to the bedroom. Harry didn’t want to – and couldn’t – deal with Draco and his feelings now; it was too late, he was too tired, it wasn’t the right time.

A voice in the back of his head asked if it would ever be the right time. Harry told the voice to shut up.

He brushed his teeth, changed his clothes and drew a brush through his hair even though it didn’t make it much more willing to cooperate with him. Finally, he made his way to the bed, where Draco had already fallen asleep. Harry crawled underneath the covers and turned to look at the blonde. His long hair fell softly into his face, and he looked peaceful in his sleep. He was a beautiful young man; even Harry could admit as much.

Sighing, he dug deeper into the pillow, giving into the exhaustion.

The next morning, Harry and Draco were both called to Hogwarts. At nine thirty in the morning, they were both sitting, yawning, in the Headmaster’s office. With a slight shudder, Harry remembered the last time he’d been in this room – just before the ‘operation’.

No one had died. Therefore, Ginny was a happy bird and the Order was breathing a slight sigh of relief that things were going better after two less than successful operations.

The injured Muggles had been healed. Every person that had been kidnapped had also been interviewed after being fed Veritaserum. Harry hadn’t been informed of anything that had come out of the interviews yet. He assumed that, given time and if it was important, he would be told.

The door to the office opened to reveal Potions Master Severus Snape. He was walking with a crutch, still suffering the aftermath of the kidnapping. Yet he was up and about, having been released from the hospital after only a day. Harry had heard from Remus that Snape had refused to stay any longer in the hospital, claiming he needed to get back to Hogwarts. After being on the receiving end of the Potions Master’s wrath, the medi-wizards and witches had quickly agreed to release him.

“Mr Potter, Mr Malfoy,” he greeted them.

Neither the blonde nor the raven-haired young man said anything. Snape greeted the Headmaster as well, before sitting down in a chair, putting his crutch away with a look of disgust.

“I have run some tests on the blood sample I received,” he said. “After several hours of work, I’ve come to the conclusion that you have been poisoned by something liquid. This something has been picked up by your bloodstream, and will therefore be almost impossible to get rid of.”

“Do you know what the poison is or does?” Draco asked, his voice even.

Snape shook his head slowly. “As I said, I ran several tests. This poison is not one that I recognize.”

“So there’s no antidote,” Draco said.

“I would not be so quick to assume that, Draco,” the Potions Master said. “Almost all poisons have antidotes – it will just take some time to find them.”

“Optimism doesn’t suit you, Severus,” Draco said with a sad smile. “You should stick to sarcasm.”

Severus shot him a deadly glare, which Draco met with an arched eyebrow.

“Do you know what the poison does?” Harry asked, wanting to stop the staring contest. The two people before him were the ones that could stare another person in the eye for the longest. He didn’t need them to compete against each other.

Snape turned his gaze to Harry. “The few ingredients I have found point at a poison that would tire you greatly. It must be very slow working, from what Madame Pomfrey said your signs have been. Other than tiring you out, it will make you feel ill. As it continues to work and gets a stronger hold on your body, it will make you weaker and weaker; possibly give you fevers and nausea. I don’t know any of these things for sure, but I would think that it will create hallucinations and then paralysis in the final stages.”

“I’m guessing the last stage of the poison is death?” Draco said, his voice flat yet with a hint of sadness.

“I believe so.”

Harry listened to the words Snape was saying, but his brain had yet to understand their meaning. Draco was dying? He couldn’t be. He was a Malfoy. He was Harry’s enemy, or perhaps friend, he had been there, a thorn in Harry’s side since their first year at Hogwarts. Now that he had switched sides, he was dying? It was not happening.

“I will work to find an antidote,” Severus said, “But I can’t promise anything.”

Draco nodded, and Harry wanted to explode. How could he just sit there? He was nodding and agreeing as Snape signed what could possibly be his death sentence. He was in no way upset or angry. He wasn’t screaming or crying. He just sat there, looking out the window behind Dumbledore’s desk.

Just as Harry was about to share a piece of his mind, he felt Draco’s hand on his own. Harry looked up to see Draco watching him.

“Calm down,” he said. “It won’t do anyone any good to be mad.”

Swallowing hard and taking several deep breaths, Harry nodded.

“Do we know where it came from?” Draco asked.

“I was hoping you could tell me,” Snape replied. “I can only find out what’s in it, not how it was induced into your bloodstream. My guess, however, is most likely the same as yours – Voldemort.”

“Why a slow working poison, though?” Harry asked. “Why not just kill him off – or both of us, for that matter? Make a statement. He likes to make statements.”

“I don’t know, Potter,” the Potions Master said. “Your guess is as good as mine. I would think, however, that this way, he preoccupies more people. I will be working on this from now on; many others will be worrying. You will be spending your energy on Draco. All of this, instead of concentrating on his plans.”

“He poisoned Draco as a distraction?” Harry asked, his voice heavy with disbelief.

At this point, Dumbledore stepped in, feeling the need to interrupt before the discussion turned into a full-blown argument fuelled by emotions running high.

“Severus, I trust you will do your best in finding this antidote,” Dumbledore said. “Harry, Draco, I suggest you go back to your apartment. Mr Malfoy, you should try to get plenty of rest. It is possible that you will have to be moved to the Hospital Wing before long and I would rather avoid that for as long as we can.”

Draco nodded, though Harry saw that he was avoiding the Headmaster’s eye. Suddenly he felt a slight bit of fear radiating off the blonde – it seemed the wards he’d had around his feelings were breaking down. Perhaps he should get the blonde home. If he broke down suddenly, Draco wouldn’t want to do so before both the Headmaster and the Potions Professor, both of whom Harry knew the blonde admired.

“Let’s go home, then,” Harry said. He took Draco’s hand and helped him stand. The Slytherin shot him a questioning look, but Harry just shrugged.

“We will be keeping closely in touch,” Dumbledore said. “We will give you any news.”

“Both good and bad, I hope,” Draco said.

“Yes, both good and bad,” the Headmaster promised with a very small smile.

A few minutes later, they bid each other goodbye and Harry and Draco left by floo whilst Snape returned to the dungeons to continue working.

When they returned home, Draco told Harry he would go take a nap. Harry agreed, his heart reaching out, if only just slightly, at the sight of the blonde’s tired form. He didn’t voice his feelings, but he assumed that Draco knew, just like he had known while they were at Hogwarts.

As the blonde disappeared into the bedroom to sleep, Harry made himself a cup of tea and scones. He sat down in the living room, having long since decided that it was his favourite place to sit and think. Here he could watch the snowfall through the large windows whilst he himself was warm and comfortable on the couch. The flames in the fireplace kept the room a nice temperature.

“Good afternoon, Harry!”

The Boy Who Lived jumped as he heard the words, spilling a few drops of tea. He swore to himself before he turned to the fireplace.

“Hello, Ron,” he said. Ron’s face hovered in the fire, his red hair matching the flames.

“How are you this fine snowy day?”

“Fine,” Harry said, although he felt far from fine after hearing Snape’s news.

“Sounds like you’re not telling the truth,” Ron said, frowning slightly at him.

Harry sighed. “We were just at Hogwarts and talked to Snape.”

“About Draco?”

Harry nodded. He had told Ron about Draco being sick when Ron had come into Snape’s room at the hospital after the Potions Master had woken up. It had been around three or four in the morning and Harry had explained what was wrong with Draco. Ron had sat still, listening intently, and in the end promising to do whatever he could to help.

“Snape says the poison is not known. Therefore there is no antidote, at least not yet. It is slow working – and it will eventually kill him.”

Harry’s voice was tired, with little emotion. There were few left in him after the meeting with Dumbledore and Severus. The anger had subdued, leaving him drained.

“Damn,” he heard Ron mutter.

“Severus will try and find some cure,” Harry said. “Draco seems to have already given up.”

“He was always the melodramatic one,” Ron said, and Harry allowed himself a very small smile.

“Shouldn’t you be working?” he asked a moment later, needing to change subject.

“Oh I am,” Ron said with a grin.

“Talking to me?” Harry asked, one eyebrow slightly raised.

“Well, okay, perhaps not,” Ron admitted. “But I do need to speak to you for a real reason.”

Harry sat up. “Order business?”

The redhead nodded. He looked around himself to see that no one was listening to him. When satisfied, he said, “We interviewed all the hostages from the kidnapping. Seems all of them are in the army in one way or another and they’re all adept with weapons.”

“No surprise. Bet Voldie was trying to get them to teach him. When they didn’t agree to it, they were… taken care of, I’m guessing. It would also explain why one of the kids spoke to the Death Eaters in Draco’s vision. That one person must have agreed to help them.”

“Exactly,” Ron said, “Which is why we now need Draco. We can’t tell which one of the Muggles would have turned to the Death Eaters, since we didn’t let it go that far. We need him to point out the kid.”

Harry nodded slowly. “He’s sleeping right now, but we’ll come over as soon as he’s woken up. Should we Floo to your office, or somewhere else?”

“Floo here, that’s fine. We’ll walk to the quarters where the Muggles are being held when you get here.”

“All right. Is it okay to wait for an hour and a half or so? He – he needs the rest.”

Ron nodded. “Sure. We don’t want him falling asleep while he’s here so let him rest. Oh, and don’t forget to wear Muggle clothing – we’ll be walking through Muggle London after all.”

“All right,” Harry said.

They said goodbye and Ron disappeared from view. Harry stood; the cup of tea and the plate both long since empty. He performed a quick cleaning spell, first where he’d spilled the tea and then on the porcelain itself and put them away in the cupboards in the kitchen.

He walked down the hallway and cautiously opened the doors to the Master bedroom. Draco was on the bed, fast asleep. It looked like he had only had to lie down to drift off; he was still wearing his cloak.

Harry strode forth and sat down on the bed, his back leaning on the wall. He was careful as he moved, not wanting to wake Draco up. He placed his hands on either side of the blonde’s face, knowing that while the Healing Warmth wouldn’t make Draco well, it would certainly help.

It was only a few minutes before Harry found the position uncomfortable.

Sighing, he lay down next to Draco, wrapping his arms around him. It felt good; it felt right, just like the time when he’d woken up after the last vision. He didn’t speculate any further than that. For once, his mind was fairly calm. There was the nagging worry in the back of his head about the poison running through Draco’s veins and he knew they had to find an antidote. Not even going home was all that important anymore in the light of recent events.

Yet still, he felt peaceful as he laid there, his arms wrapped around the blonde, providing as much comfort as he could. He felt he should enjoy it while he could, for the nagging voice told him that he might not be able to do this for much longer. If Snape was correct in his assumptions that hallucinations and paralysis would follow in the wake of the poison, then Draco would have to be taken to Hogwarts. Sooner or later, he would die.

Harry realized that he really, truly didn’t want that to happen.

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