Snape opened the door to his study, pushing Draco in. He took one last look up and down the corridor. When he entered he saw Hermione pushing Draco onto the sofa with a mother-hen look. Her face was ghastly pale and when he saw Harry he understood why. He crossed the room in an instant, looking closely at both boys for the first time.
'Harry? Look at me for a moment please.'
The dark head lifted and Harry met his eyes and smiled. 'It worked.'
Snape allowed himself a smile back. 'It did.' He turned to Draco. 'Do you want me to put something on that?'
Draco stopped rubbing his arm through the robe.
'Burlap,' Hermione recommended.
'Very good, Miss Granger,' Snape said. He knelt down at Draco's side and pushed the sleeves up. The Dark mark was a harsh black, the skin around it red, all in stark contrast to Draco's pale skin. 'Hold that,' he said, putting Draco's other hand on the sleeve. Snape got up to get the burlap.
'If you could get a bandage too?' Hermione asked. 'Harry cut his hands.'
Snape nodded and went to a cupboard.
'How did you hurt your hand?' Draco asked. The first words the boys had spoken to each other for a fortnight. Harry opened his hands and showed them to Draco, palm out. There were ten crescent shaped cuts.
'I need to cut my nails.'
Hermione muttered something that sounded suspiciously like 'boys'.
'What?' Ron asked.
'Nothing, Ron,' she answered.
Snape returned with the mixture and the bandages. He tended to Draco's arm, spreading the cooling mixture on it, then carefully wrapping the bandage around it. Harry's hands were next, and then he stood up and looked all four. Coming to a decision he moved to the fire, threw floo powder in, and called down to the kitchens.
'I need some very strong coffee. A pot of it by preference. And some of Honeyduke's finest chocolate.' He leant back out. 'I am aware of your distaste for the system, Miss Granger, but there are days I am extremely grateful that no house-elf is able to tell someone that I'm drinking coffee with my students at this hour.'
'I'm sure there's a compromise between betrayal and subservience,' she answered, but less argumentatively than usual.
They sat in a comfortable silence until the coffee arrived. Snape took it from the house-elf, somehow managing to encourage it to leave quietly. When it had gone, and he had doled out coffee and chocolate, he turned to Harry. 'I hear something happened in your meeting today?'
'How did you hear that?'
The Professor smirked. 'I didn't. But after the events of this afternoon I can't imagine your meeting went without incident.'
Harry glared, but without any real anger in it. 'I need to get better at that. We had a conversation, yes. Everything's fine now.'
'Because of you,' Hermione added.
'Yes,' she said adamantly.
'Potter, what did you do this time?' Snape asked in mock-exasperation.
Ron recapped. 'Harry said anyone who had a problem with Slytherins was out of the DA.'
'You have a problem with Slytherins, Mr Weasley,' Snape observed.
'Some of them. Not the whole house.'
Snape looked amused at that. Draco still looked confused. He turned, wincing at his arm, to face Harry. 'You meant what you said then?'
Harry nodded. 'What's the point in saying we need to stop the attacks if I don't trust any of you to work with us?' He yawned. Snape took note of that and smoothly steered the conversation to lighter things. After half an hour, the coffee and chocolate was gone. The colour had returned to the children's faces and breathing had returned to normal. He sent them to bed knowing he had done all he could. Albus insisted that these children would fight the war. He was right. But afterwards they were still children. He didn't believe in Dreamless sleep potions, except for exceptional circumstances. The dreams would come back. But for this one night a calming potion between them was no harm. He could give them one night's rest if nothing else.
They had managed to get a carriage on their own. The rest of the core DA wasn't far away, but Harry, Ron and Hermione had this one all to themselves. Harry was staring aimlessly out the window when he suddenly smiled.
Hermione noticed. 'Draco?'
'Does nobody notice?'
'He's probably just staring out the window. Or pretending to be asleep.'
Ron looked uncomfortable. 'Tell him... tell him hi or something.'
Harry grinned. 'I don't need to tell him. He's there.' Harry pointed. 'Don't look at me like I'm crazy. I just know where he is.'
Ron and Hermione obediently smiled in the direction Harry pointed.
--Draco smiled back, even though they couldn't see him. He could go know, just wanted to say bye until next September.--
'I'll see you before that,' Harry said.
'What?' Hermione asked.
'Never mind,' he replied, still smiling.
A/N: And we're done. I am never doing that again. The next thing I write will be complete before I post the first chapter, like sensible people do it. But just to remind everyone. There is a sequel. Bits of it are already written...but don't hold your breath. It's Harry/Draco slash but I love Snape way too much to leave him out. Just to get y'all in the mood:
'I need you not to overreact when I tell you this. No yelling, laughing or violence.'
The battlefield stilled as it became apparent the fight was over. The milling crowds began to centre around one spot. Someone was hurt. Dead. It couldn't be....
'Promise me that this is the last.'
'No one can tell you that.'
'We stand together, unafraid.'
If you aren't on or you only want updates on this story leave your e-mail and I'll tell you when the sequel goes up.
I really wish I could thank everyone. Feedback has supplanted caffeine as my drug of choice. Suffice to say I read and treasure each one. If it weren't for them this story would actually never have been finished as opposed to just nearly.
But, I should like to make special mention of:
JadedAngel8, who made the next part slashy.
Venus4280, who has been enthusiastically, patiently, reviewing this story for a long time.
Tansy1354, Serpent of Light, xikum, Padawan Jan-AQ, Lady Lightning, Sky Samuelle, coolcat411, Daintress, Nemati, SheWolfe7, GoddessMoonLady, Athena Keating-Thomas, Filodea, and all the wonderful people I can't find right now because it's really late, who reviewed me more than once.
And especially V (a clever alias) who is my only RL friend who understands my need to live in the Harry Potter verse more often than the real one. We know we're the sane ones really.
See y'all real soon now.