This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Spoiler Warning: This story is a sixth year fic that follows on from the events of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. As a conseqeunce this story contains major spoilers for book 5. You have been warned.

Posted 14th January 2005
Revised 24th May 2005

SNAKE HEALER: THE MALFOY MUGGLE LOVER

CHAPTER 25: PETRIFIED

Harry was released from the hospital wing early the next morning. He made his way back to Gryffindor Tower to shower and change, before meeting up with his concerned friends in the common room. He'd seen them the night before but they still fussed over him as they made their way to breakfast. Eventually the topic of conversation changed from Harry's condition to the events of that summer, with Hermione asking various questions without actually giving any indication of what she thought of Harry's words and opinions of the Malfoy family. He knew she supported him but what she thought of the Malfoys and whether she believed their change of sides was sincere was unclear. Their conversation was interrupted, however, when they arrived at the entrance hall just moments before Draco only to find a confrontation brewing between a third year Slytherin and a muggle born Gryffindor. Such confrontations were commonplace and generally attracted a crowd of onlookers. This confrontation was no different until Draco intervened.

"Baddock!" Draco yelled authoritatively, pushing his way through the crowd of onlookers, "What do you think you're doing?"

The third year question turned to face Draco as he approached, seeming to meet his housemate's withering glare of ire with staunch defiance. Harry noticed, however, that the younger Slytherin refused to look Draco directly in the eye. His proud boasting sounded genuine though and did not impress Draco in the slightest, "I was just reminding the mudblood of his rightful place."

"What did Professor Snape say last night?" Draco responded scathingly, standing just inches away from Baddock and looking him directly in the eye so as to intimidate him.

His attempts at intimidation worked instantly, when the third year broke eye contact unable to handle Draco's anger and the reminder of Snape's orders which he parroted for Draco's and, more importantly Harry suspected, the crowd's benefit. "To pick on the enemy and leave the mudbloods alone," Baddock reported guiltily. His sudden change of attitude from defiance to guilt took many people by surprise, including Ron and Hermione.

The response apparently failed to satisfy Draco, who wanted to know Baddock had not followed Snape's orders. "Then why are you picking on Dennis Creevey?" Draco demanded tersely, his gaze remaining firmly concentrated on Baddock's face. This caused the third year Slytherin to shift nervously, but did not engender a reply of any kind, causing Draco to make an accusation that assumed the worst. "Unless, you see Creevey as the enemy. Is that it? Are you a traitor? Are you a follower of the dark lord? Baddock's demeanour changed rapidly as Draco made his accusation. His guilt fell away, to be replaced with an immense outrage at Draco's words.

"I am not a traitor!" he yelled venomously, finally meeting Draco's eyes, "I was loyal long before you ever were and you know it. If you must know, I was actually trying to find something out before you poked in where you're not wanted. You can count yourself lucky that I found out all I wanted to know before you interrupted me."

Draco immediately relaxed upon hearing Baddock's explanation, a little too quickly for his anger to be real Harry suspected, "My apologies Malcolm," Draco responded sincerely, his apology undoubtedly genuine, "What is it you found out?"

"We've uncovered another supporter of You-Know-Who among the Gryffindors and we've also confirmed that the first years are indeed marked, just like the other year groups," Baddock responded, still sounding slightly annoyed with Draco.

Draco glanced over at Harry to discern his brother's reaction to the news and quickly scanned the crowd to see how many Voldemort supporters were among their audience, his face inscrutable in contrast to Harry's evident concern and anger. "Who?" he asked firmly, sounding as cold and emotionless as he currently appeared.

Baddock hesitated before replying, clearly unwilling to name the death eater publicly. It took a prompting from Harry before he spoke. "Jack Sloper," he said firmly looking directly at the Gryffindor beater. It was an accusation that met with instant denial from Sloper and from Andrew Kirke, who was quick to leap to his best friend's defence.

"Lies and Slander!" Sloper yelled, "You're lying to divide us and sabotage the quidditch team." It was clear that most people agreed him, however much Harry thought his counter accusation to be ridiculous, judging from the declarations of support and whisperings overheard as he pushed his way through the crowd towards the accused, most people preferred to believe the Gryffindor rather than the Slytherin. Harry, intent on checking whether Baddock's accusation was true made his way to the front of the crowd so he stood behind the two Gryffindor beaters, wand at the ready. Guessing what Harry was about to do Draco stepped forward, so as to get closer to Sloper, several Slytherins followed suit all with their wands in their hands and trained on Sloper and Kirke.

Harry had his wand trained on Sloper too, but that was so he could dispel the sleeves to Sloper's robes, in order to see if the Gryffindor beater bore the dark mark, as many of the students loyal to Voldemort did. He was not surprised to see the gruesome skull and serpent tattoo emblazoned on Sloper's forearm. It took Sloper about a minute to realise that his dark mark exposed, mainly because he and Kirke too busy bristling at Draco's venomous response to their defence and because not many people could see it clearly. Harry took the delay to vanish the sleeves to Kirke's robes as well, revealing another dark mark, not that this surprised either Harry, Draco or anybody else who did not automatically associate Gryffindor with all the was good and light. His allegiance was well known as Kirke's father was among those who had claimed to be under the Imperius Curse in the last war.

Whilst few were able to see Sloper's marked left arm, Kirke's dark mark was more visible and was soon noticed by several of the crowd, who reacted with shock and fear upon seeing it, there were several screams at the sight of the horrible deforming tattoo etched on Kirke's forearm. It was these screams and the fear evident on people's faces that alerted Kirke and Sloper to the unveiling of their allegiance. Harry, like Draco and the rest of the crowd, expected the two death eaters to start firing off curses or grin evilly and rant in support of Voldemort now that they were unmasked, as Jackson, Melchitt and Nott had done the previous day. They did neither, instead Sloper's gaze shifted into an annoyed and somewhat exasperated glare directed at the panicking onlookers. Kirke directed a more contemptuous glare towards Draco and spoke, "Not all Gryffindors are muggle lovers, Malfoy, and not all death eaters are evil. We, like my family before me, are merely doing what is right not what is easy. If that involves allying ourselves with evil then so be it, that is a sacrifice we must make if our kind is to have a future."

Draco responded with a contemptuous gaze, ignoring the crowd around him. "You choose the dark lord over your own house. Leo will ensure that you will be expelled for it," he sneered scathingly.

Kirke responded with a knowing grin that would have unnerved Harry if he were in position to see Kirke's face. As it was, his smugness conveyed the same expression, "As you well know, there is no school rule against supporting You-Know-Who and if you think that my housemates will petition for me to be expelled, then you obviously haven't noticed the absence of any teachers capable of ratifying our expulsion or the expulsion of our allies in the hospital wing." Harry wasn't the only one who hadn't noticed the absence of teachers, although he resisted the temptation to point out that he'd been planning to have Kirke and the other death eaters arrested rather than merely expelled.

Instead he let Draco vocalise the thought that was making the majority feel extremely tense and anxious. The narrowing of Draco's eyes indicated the Slytherin shared the concern, although he tried to hide behind the veil of hatred most evident in the tone of his reply, "What are you talking about traitor?" he spat viciously.

Sloper, who replied in his friend's stead, only succeeded in turning this concern and anxiety into mass hysteria. His triumphant grin providing an ominous precursor to his terrible claims. "The teachers were petrified late last night, check the staff room if you don't believe us," he responded, the seriousness of his reply belying his triumphant expression and feelings.

Naturally, mass panic ensued, until it was silenced by Harry who cast a spell that created a loud bang and gave a magically amplified call for "silence." The panic stopped and all eyes turned to face Harry looking desperately for leadership and reassurance from the most famous of their number. Harry, who had pushed his past a now stupefied Kirke and Sloper into the centre of the crowd, surpressed his nerves and started to speak in an attempt to reassure the students. If Sloper's claims were true, he wasn't sure he could organise the student body or lead them, that was more Hermione's forte, he could at least try to calm everyone down though and make them realise that the world had not ended and that even without the teachers everything would be fine. However, his speech was delayed by the arrival of Katie Bell, the head girl, on the scene bearing news that confirmed Sloper's claims.

"The school's been attacked by death eaters. The teachers have been petrified, they even got Professor Dumbledore." She announced from the top of the staircase leading to the upper floors of the castle. She was clearly out of breath, presumably because she had run from the staff room, nonetheless she sounded remarkably calm and collected despite the situation.

Her announcement caused another wave of hysteria that Harry had to silence, whilst he shared the concerns of his fellow students, many of whom were terrified that they would fall victim to the next attack. He knew that by panicking they were playing right into the death eater's hands and doing exactly what the enemy wanted them to do. The only way everyone was going to survive was by pulling together, trusting each other and organising the school so that it could be run and defended even without the teachers. Upon hearing of his appeal for silence, the crowd of students, which seemed to consist of about half the student body, turned to face Harry, looking for hope, leadership and guidance. He desperately didn't want to be charge but as the boy-who-lived and the one who had stepped in twice to call for some semblance of calm and order, it seemed he had no choice. The expectation of the students, the weight of responsibility and the fact that he had been placed in the spotlight all made him feel extremely uncomfortable. Still, it wasn't as if anyone else was going to do it, even the head girl appeared to be looking at him for instructions, which was not a good thing given that he had no idea what to do. He desperately looked to Hermione for help, but his bushy haired friend merely mouthed at him to say something, so he did what Dumbledore would have done in this situation.

"I want everyone to gather in the great hall and stay there until the castle has been thoroughly checked for intruders. No one is to leave the great hall without the permission of either the head boy or the head girl and if you are allowed to leave do not go anywhere alone. No searching for your friends either, we'll do that for you." He ordered, trying to sound as authoritative as Dumbledore would have in the same situation. He thought he failed miserably at it too as he was too uncomfortable at being the focus of the hopes and expectations of several hundred people, but from the mass of students filing into the great hall people were doing what he said. Well, everyone except his close friends, Draco and the other Slytherins in his year who headed towards him. Katie stopped to speak to speak to Harry as well as she walked past the spot where Harry, Draco and their friends had gathered.

"I didn't want to say this in front of the entire school but I think you ought to know that Lucius Malfoy was petrified along with the teachers," she said softly, addressing both Harry and Draco. Her message delivered, she left the two boys and their friends to take in the news and headed into the take great hall to take charge of the student body. Harry had taken the news in his stride, his heart had sunk to hear it, but to him this was no more distressing than hearing of the petrification of the teachers. He may have trusted Lucius and respected him as his father, but they were not especially close and did not share an especially loving relationship. Draco, however, took the news badly, his face paled and his eyes dulled in distress before he turned and ran off up the staircase towards the staff room, Crabbe and Goyle following close behind him in their usual role as Draco's bodyguards. Harry eager to follow, turned to Ron and Hermione and asked them to go to Gryffindor tower to get the Marauder's Map before running after Draco. They may not have been close, but Harry felt that he had a duty to be with his brother at a time like this, even if he wouldn't be able to help that much. As he dashed off after his half brother, he noticed that Draco's other friends as well as Neville and Luna followed him at a more sedate pace.

Harry caught up with Draco long before they got to their objective, consequently the two reached the open door to the staff room at the same and stopped at the sight of the horrific scene that confronted them. The teachers had obviously been in the middle of a staff meeting when they had been attacked from the looks on the teachers faces it appeared as though they had been taken by surprise and had been most of them had been petrified before they had time to react. Their frozen bodies were, depending on the individual, fixed into various states of shock, surprise, anger and fear. Only a few of them had time to draw their wands, namely Dumbledore, Lucius, Snape, Flitwick and McGonagall all of whom had been seated at the far end of the room. Firenze had also reacted but had suffered a more horrific fate, as he had been grievously injured by the single death eater who lay dead in the doorway, yet he was still alive and his wounds had been tended. The centaur seemed to have been injured whilst attacking one of the four strange animals that had done the petrifying, having clearly already killed another one of them in close combat. Thankfully all four of the creatures were dead, as was the death eater. Having processed what had happened, Draco ran over to Lucius and prodded him and examined his frozen body, before doing the same to Professor Snape and Professor Dumbledore.

When Draco returned to speak to Harry he no longer looked distressed or shocked, just angry. His eyes had hardened to ice cold fury and his face was a blank mask. "She's right, they've been petrified and nothing else. There's no sign of any other injuries on them. Firenze was the only one injured by the death eater, who appears to be alive and asleep," he reported frostily. Harry knew his anger was aimed at the death eaters not him as did Crabbe and Goyle. The later of whom asked a question that had bothered Harry for a few brief seconds.

"Who healed Firenze?" Goyle asked sounding as dopey as ever.

"Madam Pomfrey presumably. She's not among the petrified as I spoke to her this morning to get her permission to leave the hospital wing. She looked and sounded pretty shaken when I spoke to her too, come to think of it," Harry replied. He'd ignored the mediwitch's obvious distress at the time, thinking it wasn't something that concerned him.

Draco responded to Harry's news by turning to Crabbe and Goyle and giving them orders to go to the hospital wing. "Kill the prisoners and bring whoever's guarding them and Pomfrey back here," he commanded, the two brainless lumps responded with a grunt and set off to in the direction of the hospital wing. Draco looked at Harry inquisitively when the Gryffindor made no reaction to his orders; he obviously expected a protest of horror at the prospect of killing the two death eaters lying in the hospital wing. He didn't get one because Harry knew that nothing he said would change anything, even if did feel uncomfortable with the rather mundane way in which Draco gave the order.

Instead of saying something, Harry removed the mask of the death eater to reveal the face of a seventh year Ravenclaw who was this years head boy. "Did you know he was a death eater?" he asked genuinely surprised at seeing who the death eater was.

"No," Draco replied, "although he was friends with a known enemy, but then so are most people, even if there are only two dozen or so of them. Although, if we isolate them from the rest of the school then they won't get any more even in the current situation."

"Why don't we just have them arrested? That's what I intend to do with Kirke and Sloper," Harry asked, curious as to why a Slytherin would dismiss that option. After all, with Fudge as minister they controlled the ministry. The response was to highlight a likelihood that had never occurred to Harry.

"The aurors wouldn't be able to get through the wards," Draco answered, as the group that had slowly followed Harry to the staff room finally arrived on the scene, "Last time all the senior teachers were petrified the school was automatically quarantined from the outside world. Only the house elves could get past the wards. I presume that wood elves would be able to get past the wards too." The last sentence was aimed at Zabini, for the elf to confirm or deny. He did neither.

"I would need to check that, once Ron gets here, we'll go and check the wards. Should we tell the ministry what's happened while we're about or wait until after we've sorted out a plan of action?" Zabini replied asking Draco as much as Harry. He hadn't even bothered to see what had happened and had immediately approached the two Malfoy's to discuss what needed to be done.

"Do it now. The soon we tell them what's happened the better. We don't the outside world to start panicking if it all possible. That's exactly what Voldemort wants us to do," Harry had suggested, looking to Draco for agreement. He duly came along with what the ministry should be told.

"Agreed," Draco continued. "Tell the minister that Dumbledore and the heads of houses are unconscious and that the school's been quarantined. Tell them that teaching is continuing as normal and that seventh years will be filling in for the unconscious teachers. Also say that we're looking for a way to allow everyone to send and receive their post presuming that owls won't be able to get past the wards, which you'd better test." Just as Harry asked for his agreement, so Draco asked Harry if there was anything that needed to be mentioned. There was not, although he did ask Neville and Luna to do something else that had occurred to him: check if Professor Sprout currently had any Mandrakes in stock. After all, they wouldn't be able to revive the teachers without the main ingredient for the Mandrake Restorative Draught. The idea obviously hadn't occurred to Draco, because upon hearing Harry's request, he sent Daphne Greengrass and Pansy Parkinson down to the dungeons to find out what the recipe for the restorative draught was and see if Professor Snape had all the right ingredients in stock.

They only got a few yards before Harry stopped them to ask for some truth serum, causing Draco to look at his brother quizzically. "What for?" he asked curiously, "Surely you don't believe that we should interrogate the entire school for death eaters?"

Harry shook his head, "No, only the Slytherins," he replied seriously, "There's no way we're going to be able to get through this if the school isn't together and that means everyone has to trust you. The only way that's ever going to happen is if you can question you under a truth serum."

Draco snorted disbelievingly, "You can feed us as much Veritaserum as you like they'll never believe us and even if they did they'd never work with us," he retorted disbelievingly. Harry couldn't help but glare at Draco for his defeatist attitude. He knew that it would take a while for the rest of the school to trust the Slytherins, no amount of Veritaserum could make up for past experience and firmly held beliefs, but he knew that he'd succeed in building a degree of trust of eventually.

That this small degree of trust between the students of all the Hogwarts houses was to take three months of working alongside each other without the teachers and several days of intense interrogation no-one knew at the time. They were to be thankful for it though because when Voldemort and the army of dark elves, dark wizards and dark creatures that he commanded came to Hogwarts intent on destroying his greatest enemies and capturing the artefacts these enemies guarded, this trust was to prove essential to the successful defence of Hogwarts and all that she protected.

The End

Yes, its a cliffhanger ending, but much of how the students of Hogwarts survive is irrelevant to this story and the interrogations of the Slytherins that proceed them are neither interesting nor allow for a better ending. If anyone wants to write a continuation or use the situation the students now find themselves in for their own fics, feel free.

Thank You to all those who reviewed chapter 24, your reviews were most appreciated.