Chapter Twenty
It All Comes Crumbling Down

“What do you mean you can no longer feel your legs?” Harry asked dumbly, his insides turned to ice with his boyfriend’s words.

Draco seemed to shrug, although he still hardly moved at all. “I can’t feel my legs anymore,” he said. “I can’t move them, can’t feel them.”

Hermione stared at him; her eyes wide and filling with tears. She wouldn’t cry though, Harry knew that. She knew, just as well as well as he did, that they would have to be strong.

“Oh my,” Dumbledore mumbled, his blue eyes watching Draco with concern. “Of course, the vision would have been a shock to your system and this far into the poison’s work it would kick into even higher gear because of it.”

“What do you mean?” Harry asked; his mind was slow with shock.

“He means that the poison took an even greater hold of Draco whilst he was weak from the vision. It paralysed him,” Hermione explained to him. She then stood and walked over to the other side of the bed and reached for Draco. “I’m going to pinch your legs, and you will tell me when you feel anything, okay?”

Draco gave the smallest of nods.

Hermione began with Draco’s feet, pinching each of Draco’s toes, then the inside of his foot, his heel, up to his ankles, his shins, the knee pits, the knee, and the front and back of his thigh. Draco didn’t say a word throughout the process, but Harry could hear his breathing become uneven as he noticed just how much of his body he couldn’t feel at all.

Finally, when she touched his hips, he felt her hands on his body again and he told her so. His voice was thick when he said, “No need to continue up, Granger.”

Hermione didn’t glare at him for using her last name; instead her eyes were filled with something akin to pity. She sat back down on her chair.

Ron came back into the room just then, a crying Ariel in his arms. Behind him followed Ginny with the other baby. Ginny looked tired, as though she had just woken up – which she probably had – yet there was still an aura of confidence and control around her as she conjured up a chair to sit on, next to Hermione. She handed the baby boy in her arms to Hermione and then turned to Harry and Draco on the bed. Harry still held the blonde close in his arms, afraid of what would happen if he let go. He never wanted to let go. Draco in turn just laid there, his eyes closed. Harry wondered if he’d drifted off to sleep again.

The Headmaster recounted the vision Draco had just had to Ginny and her eyes widened.

“They’re strong enough to think that they can take over Hogwarts?” she asked.

“They have been getting a lot stronger,” Hermione said. “In the last few weeks, there have been disappearances among the Muggles that no one can explain, and the newspapers have reported about the increase in shootings lately. There’ve been three murders in the Wizarding community that seem all too much like Voldemort’s doing for it not to be. The victims have been tortured, shot, and then returned to somewhere where they knew the bodies would be found.”

“Why haven’t you told us?” Harry asked, hearing the news for the very first time.

Ginny looked slightly guilty. “We felt it was better that you concentrated on finding a cure for the poison, rather than to worry about things that you couldn’t do anything about anyway.”

“That we couldn’t… You hide news about three wizards being murdered because you think that we couldn’t deal with it?” Harry asked, raising his voice. His nerves had broken completely with Ginny’s words, and he felt himself and the world around him break down. That was, until he felt a warming sensation inside of himself and a familiar voice that said,

‘Calm down, Harry. Don’t be upset, it won’t help.’

The voice was weak even inside his head, but Harry maintained the link with Draco. He took a deep breath to calm himself.

‘Don’t give me your energy, Draco,’ he told the blonde, ‘You need it much more than I do.’

He sensed Draco’s smile, but received no response.

Ginny, Hermione and the room’s other occupants – save for the babies – watched the two boys on the bed with interest. Harry blushed slightly when he finally looked up at them.

“We didn’t do it to deceive you, Harry,” Ginny said. “We did it because we think that your energy is better spent on finding the antidote.”

Harry offered her a very small smile. “I know. Sorry for blowing up at you.”

Ginny returned the smile; hers filled with soft sadness and worry. Then she turned to Dumbledore and in that moment, she became Ginny-In-Control.

The Headmaster smiled at her and said, “I will be sending owls to every parent of every student at the school. Within a day, all the students that wish to leave will have left. I will not allow anyone under the sixth year to stay, it is too risky.”

“Good,” Ginny said. “I will contact the Order and see to it that they all arrive at Hogwarts tomorrow. If Voldemort thinks he’s strong enough to walk onto the school, then we will have to meet him with an even stronger force.

“Sirius Black and Remus Lupin will be in charge of getting the Order completely organized and informed of exactly what is happening. Oh, and could you send a few owls to the giants and ask for their assistance?”

Dumbledore nodded. “I will do so immediately.”

“What about us?” Harry asked, gesturing at himself and Draco. “I’m not going to leave him, not now.”

‘Why thank you Potter. Feeling responsible for me?’ was Draco’s sarcastic, thought reply to him.

‘As a matter of fact, yes,’ Harry responded.

Ginny looked thoughtful. “I will need you at Hogwarts, Harry.”

Harry had known that that would be the reply he’d get – not only because he was the only Healer now that Draco was no longer ‘available’, but also because he was the Boy Who Lived and despite that seven years had passed from the time he was used to, he was still looked upon as the Saviour of the Wizarding world. He had to go face Voldemort in what they all knew without having to think about it, would be the last battle against the Dark Lord.

“I’ll go with you,” Draco said, lifting his head ever so slightly.

“You are not going to a war site when you can’t even walk,” Harry said. He was irritated with Draco for even suggesting it.

“I can drink one of the strengthening potions. I am sure they will make me stronger. Then I can help.”

Harry met Draco’s gaze, the grey eyes pleading with him to let him come as well.

“You’ll get killed,” Harry said, his voice thick with emotion.

“I will die anyway,” Draco said, his voice even, with an underlying hint of anger. “This will just be a bit sooner – and maybe a bit less painful.”

“Draco, why don’t we take you to St. Mungo’s instead,” Ginny suggested weakly.

“And what, leave me there to die instead? St. Mungo’s can do nothing for me. And don’t you think that when the Dark Lord is finished with Hogwarts he would come immediately to the biggest Wizarding hospital in England? And in any case, I am not leaving Potter here to face that bleeding Dark Lord by himself.”

Draco was getting angry and with that anger, he seemed a slight bit stronger, for he raised his head to glare at Ginny. She met his eye, her own gaze never wavering. Finally, she sighed.

“If you really want to come, I know that no one will be able to stop you,” she said.

“Damn right you can’t,” Draco said with a small grin.

“I will prepare Madame Pomfrey for your arrival,” Ginny continued. “You will be in the Hospital Wing until something happens.”

“But –”

“No, that’s not arguable,” Ginny said. “Otherwise, you’ll suddenly be off somewhere alone and you’ll begin to hallucinate, and then what? In the Infirmary, there will always be someone to keep an eye on you.”

Draco glared at her, hating the feeling of being a baby that needed looking after. Still, he didn’t say anything.

“Hermione,” Ginny said, turning to her sister-in-law. “You are under no circumstances going to go.”

Hermione nodded. “I know. I can’t, not right now, no matter how much I would like to.”

The young redhead turned to her brother. “Ron, you can chose if you want to come or not. These babies – they need their father,” she said softly.

Ron only nodded, but didn’t say anything. Harry saw him tighten his grip around his daughter slightly, holding her protectively.

A few minutes later, the general plan had been discussed. Dumbledore and Ginny left, leaving Harry and Draco with Hermione, Ron and their children.

“Go to bed, ‘Mione,” Harry told her softly from the bed. “It won’t do you any good to fall asleep on that chair.”

Hermione smiled at him. “I guess I should go to bed…”

He caught the look on her face and said, “It will be all right.”

She looked concerned, her smile suddenly pained. “I know it will be,” she said, though the words lacked conviction. She stood up, her little baby boy still in her arms and kissed first Harry then Draco on the cheek. Draco, who was already back asleep, smiled slightly at her touch.

“Good night, ‘Mione,” Harry said.

“Good night, Harry.”

Morning came, with Hermione waking them up all too early. Ginny had said that they needed to leave for Hogwarts as soon as possible. Apparently, both she and the Headmaster were convinced that the attack would happen soon. Therefore, the Order was being gathered with great urgency – and even greater secrecy.

Harry went home to their apartment to pack. He packed one bag for himself and one for Draco. He picked out clothes and boots that looked comfortable and useful. He then grabbed his Invisibility Cloak – which he hadn’t noticed until he went through the wardrobe that day – and their wands. He also packed the new guns that Mr Hanawalt had supplied him with. One for himself, one for Draco, although he doubted that he would ever let the blonde touch the weapon, just like he wasn’t sure that he should allow Draco to have his wand.

He also packed several bottles of healing potions. There was the Galena potion – used for cuts and bruises, broken bones, and other smaller injuries – which was the most common of the potions Harry had. The Keyahla potion, a bit stronger than the Galena potion, was used for more severe injuries like internal bleedings and head wounds. The injured person needed to drink the Keyahla potion, while the Galena potion was poured onto the cut. Last, the Salusta potion, for the most severe injuries. The Salusta potion was just like the Althidia potion – only Healers could use it. The Salusta potion required a combination of the potion and the Healer’s energy.

There were a few other potions that he packed, but he found that he didn’t have that many at home. Hopefully, Severus could brew some more.

He also packed three spell books, filled with Healing spells. Harry and Draco had both memorized several of the spells, but there were still many more that they didn’t know. Thus, the books came with him to Hogwarts.

He took the ring he’d gotten from Draco for Christmas and placed it on his finger. A warm sensation filled him briefly as he admired the way it looked on his hand and he smiled softly to himself.

He added a last few things to the bags before he cast the feather light spell and then a size-reducing spell. The bags were now small enough to fit in the palm of his hand and so Harry left the apartment. Just before he stepped into the fire, he looked around the living room. He couldn’t shake the feeling off that this was the last time in a very, very long time he would see the apartment.

At the Weasley Castle, there was a lot of activity. Only Draco looked like he was being lazy; he lay still on the couch in the living room.

Several of the other Weasley siblings had joined Hermione, Ron and Draco at the Castle. Bill was there, as were Fred and George with their respective girlfriends. Ginny was obviously not there – she was at Hogwarts, trying to set this operation in order.

“Hello Harry,” Bill said, shaking his hand. “Bad circumstances, but still nice to see you.”

“Yeah, you too. So you’re coming to Hogwarts as well?”

“I am. Actually, everyone is coming,” he said, motioning at Ron as well. Harry frowned slightly – he definitely didn’t like that Ron was leaving his family. Then he looked at Hermione and he realized that it was a choice that they’d made together.

“So, Ron’s coming,” Harry said softly.

“Yes. Seems like no one can stay out – not even your boyfriend,” Bill replied with a small smile.

Harry shook his head. “He wanted to come. Says he’s going to die anyway… I couldn’t tell him no. Maybe if he can fight someone else, he can fight for him self a bit.”

Bill smiled reassuringly at him. “I’m sure it will be okay.”

“Is Charlie coming?” Harry asked, deciding to change the subject to avoid an emotional breakdown. He didn’t have time for that now; he had to be strong.

Bill nodded. “Bringing a few dragons with him as well, I believe,” he said.

They continued to talk for a bit longer, before Hermione called their attention.

“You need to leave now,” she said to them. “Dumbledore made a schedule of when you could floo to Hogwarts, so that not everyone would come at the same time.”

She stood by the fireplace and Harry saw her fighting tears. Ron stood next to her with his children in his arms, both the babies asleep. He held them closely, kissing their heads and also fighting tears. Then he put the children in their cribs and held Hermione. They kissed and Hermione’s tears finally fell. She sobbed into her husband’s shoulder and he cried too. Still, she was resolute – he needed to go.

Harry stood by the couch, where Draco was lying. He shook him awake gently as the first wizard left. With a soft ‘pop’, Fred disappeared. Angelina followed quickly, and then others.

“Wake up, Draco,” Harry said.

The blonde’s eyes fluttered open. “It’s time?” he asked.

Harry nodded gravely. “You don’t have to do this.”

“But I do, Harry,” replied Draco. “I do need to do this.”

“All right,” Harry sighed softly. Then he swiftly picked Draco up in his arms. He felt Draco tense for a moment and he knew that the blonde felt uncomfortable with showing his weakness so clearly. Still, there was nothing they could do about it, so finally, Draco just relaxed.

Harry bent to kiss Hermione on the cheek before he stepped into the fire and she cried harder.

“Hogwarts, the Infirmary,” Harry said clearly, after throwing the floo-powder into the fire. The flames flared green and the world around them dissolved. Harry held Draco close, as the world flew by quickly. Then they were thrown out, right into the Hospital Wing.

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