Saving Grace

Chapter One

          Harry Potter stumbled out of his Uncle Vernon's car, arriving unceremoniously early.  His uncle quickly got out of the car, glancing suspiciously around him.  He opened the trunk at the touch of a button, and watched his nephew scramble to it.  The boy reached in, trying to grab something, but as he touched it, his face contorted in pain.

          His uncle reached in and pulled a large trunk out for him, and what appeared to be an empty birdcage.  At the same time his uncle grabbed his wrist, dragging him along towards the nearest trolley cart.  Vernon dumped the trunk and cage on top of it, but did not let go of his nephew's wrist.

          "If you whisper even one word about what happened this summer, Potter, you'll be sorry."  The man let go of his wrist and fingered a dark ring around the boy's eye.  "Trust me Potter, it'll be much worse than this one was.  Understood?"

          "Y…yes, Sir."

          "Now, get."  Harry quickly grabbed the cart, even thought he was in obvious discomfort, and pushed it between platforms 9 and 10.

          Draco Malfoy looked back at his parent's retreating backs.  He knew he'd never see them again.  Not since he had refused the Dark Lord's offer.  He had been disowned.  Well, he had to get on with his life.  He'd talk to Snape at Hogwarts.  Yes, Snape would help him.  Draco sighed and turned towards the steaming train.  Quietly he picked up his trunk.  It was time to go.

          "He looks kind of cute that way," said fifteen-year-old Hermione Granger to her best friend, Ronald Weasley.  They were looking at their sleeping friend, Harry Potter.  "Let's just leave him alone.  We'll find a different compartment.  You know, one alone.  We can tell him about us later."

          "Yeah," said Ron.  "He must be dead tired if he didn't put his trunk away, so let's just leave him."

          Draco was becoming severely frustrated.  He couldn't sit with his old 'friends', because after he had refused the Dark Lord, they were all told to hate him.  The other Houses hated him anyway, and he was becoming afraid to walk into compartments after he found Weasel and Mudblood snogging in a corner.  He found it strange that Potter wasn't there, but he had probably left them for that very reason.

          Draco held his breath as he opened another compartment.  There was no snogging, no throwing of curses or hexes, only a sleeping figure.  Draco ventured a bit further in to find the person hadn't even put their things away.  He sighed to himself.  It was better than nothing.  Draco levitated his trunk up into the storage area, and did the same of the other boy's.

          Draco sat down across from the still figure.  He almost immediately recognized him as Potter.  "Great," muttered Draco, "just peachy."  He noticed that the other boy had not changed into his robes, and that his too large clothes were stained and soaked with something reddish brown.  As the boy turned towards him, Draco was horrified to find that he had a very large black eye.  It looked fresh.

          The other boy began to moan in his sleep.  Draco quickly crossed the compartment and gently shook the boy's shoulder.  "Potter," he hissed.  "Potter."  The named boy jumped up and out of Draco's grasp, cowering in the corner of the seat.

          "I'm sorry…sorry…didn't mean to…sorry…I'm sorry…"

          Draco was violently surprised at the response to the boy's last name, so tried a different approach.  "Harry?" asked Draco quietly, for the first time in his life using Harry's first name.  Harry snapped back into the real world and slumped back into his seat. 

          "Sorry 'bout that.  Reminded me of someone…Draco?"  Malfoy was once again surprised by Harry's use of his first name, but nodded all the same.

          "Someone who called you by your last name, and someone who hit you," said Draco, connecting the pieces.  Harry's eyes darted, looking anywhere but at Draco.  "Harry, that black eye and your broken glasses gave it away.  You didn't tell," said Draco comfortingly.  He didn't know why he was comforting his enemy.  He just knew he had to.  "You're not going to get in trouble," said Draco immediately understanding.  "Just tell me who did this to you."

          Harry hesitantly let his eyes stop at Draco's.  "M…my…U…" Harry choked, tears forming in his eyes.  "…Uncle…He…he…sa…said…IfItoldI'dbesorry," said Harry all in one breath.

          Draco was abhorred.  These were P…Harry's only blood relatives, and they had hit him…not that Draco's own relatives were that great either.  Enemy or not, Harry Potter was still a child, and he needed what every other child did, comforting love.  So, Draco Malfoy did the only thing that he could think of, and opened his arms for the broken boy in front of him.  Harry moved slowly forward, hesitant at first, but then fully accepted the hug.

          It was painfully obvious to Draco that Harry was not used to such comfort.  He found it strange that all the hate he had held for the teen in his arms could be washed away in an instant.  He allowed Harry to relax in the comforting circle for a few moments more before hi spoke.  "Harry, do you think you could let me see what your uncle did?"

          Harry's body tensed, but he nodded.  Draco was no beginning to find Harry's trust amazing, but when he tried to think of it from Harry's position, he realized the first person he'd go to was the first one who showed comfort.  He helped Harry position himself in Draco's lap, and helped him to take off the large shirt.  Draco was horrified.  Harry's back was covered in welts and long deep cuts.  One of Harry's ribs was caved in, and his right elbow most certainly wasn't supposed to look like that.

          The first thing Draco did was fix Harry's glasses.  He knew Harry would feel less vulnerable being able to see.  The next thing he did was conjure up steaming water, a rag, and bandages.  He dipped the rag into the warm water.  "Harry, I'm going to touch you.  Okay?"  Harry nodded and Draco began to gently clean Harry's back.  He noticed that the heat seemed to help Harry relax, and put it away for future reference.  After gently bandaging Harry's back and front he moved on to Harry's wrists.  They were chafed, bleeding, and bruised from what appeared to be ropes.  Draco washed and bandaged them also.

          He summoned a pair of Harry's robes from his trunk.  As he was helping Harry put on his robe, Draco's hand brushed past his forehead.  "Merlin, Harry, you're burning up.  Look at me."  Sure enough Harry's face was flushed and his eyes were glossy.  Draco looked down at his watch.  They still had seven hours until they got to Hogwarts.  "Harry, do you want to sleep?"  Harry nodded and Draco helped him out of his lap and onto the seat.  He covered Harry with his own cloak, and watched to make sure Harry did fall asleep.

          Before he fell asleep, Harry muttered one last thing.  "Draco," he gasped out, "I…I'm sorry, for…being…such…a…a jerk…"  Before Draco could respond Harry was asleep.

          "So am I Harry," Draco whispered, "So am I."

          Draco jerked awake as soon as the train stopped.  By the sounds coming from the other side of the compartment, Harry was awake as well.  Draco crossed the space in two strides and bent down towards Harry.  Harry was paler than before, and his cheekbones stood out against the red flush.  His eyes were too bright, and his hands were trembling.  "Harry, do you think you can walk?"

          "I…I'm n…not…sure…"

          "Then why don't we wait until everyone's gone and I'll try to carry you out then.  We'll go straight to Madam Pomfrey, alright?"

          "N...no."

          "Why not Harry?  You don't want Pomfrey to find out, do you?"  Harry nodded.  "You want to find someone who will keep the secret, don't you?  You're afraid that she'll tell, aren't you?"  Harry nodded.  "The there's only one person I know that we could go to.  Harry, do you trust me," asked Draco seriously.  Harry nodded again.  "I'm going to bring you to Professor Snape.  He'll keep the secret; I know he will.  He's kept all of mine.  If I trust him, will you trust him?"

          "Yes," said Harry.  "If…you do…"  By then the footsteps in the hall had receded. 

          "Harry, I'm going to pick you up now.  We're going to take the last carriage out of here.  We're going to go straight down to his rooms, all right?  He have me the password earlier because I was going to meet him after the feast.  Okay, Harry?"  Harry nodded.  "Then lets go."  Draco lifted the boy as gently as he could, trying not to cause pain.  "Good Godric!  When was the last time they fed you?!"

          "T…three w…weeks…"  Draco's eyes widened, but wisely he held his tongue, as he did not want to scare the boy.  Harry's eyes were closed and he was barely breathing from the pain it caused.

          "D…Draco," gasped Harry, "I…it doesn't…hurt a…as…much…any…m…more…"

          "That's good, Harry," said Draco quietly as they stepped off the train.  "Just relax now, trust me.  Harry, whatever you do, please don't fall asleep."  He felt Harry nod in response.  Secretly Draco was worried.  If it didn't hurt, than that meant he was losing Harry, and he didn't want to lose him so soon after gaining him as a friend.  If Harry fell asleep now, he may never wake up.  There, at the end of the station was the last carriage.  Draco entered it, quite happy to find it empty.  He leaned up against the seat, supporting Harry, and closed his eyes.  This was the easy part.  He still had to get to Snape.

Hi guys!  For those of you who don't know me, I'm Anneliese, and I'm currently working on a few fics, one is The Fifth Year Mage, which was known as The Fifth Year the Beginning.  I wrote this out of impulse a couple weeks ago, and my friend got a hold of it and stood over me with death threats until I finished and posted.  It's probably still not as long as she'd like, but at least I'm alive!

All reviews are appreciated, and flames will be used to bake a chocolate cake, and to boil water for hot chocolate!