Disclaimer: All the wonderful world of Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling.
**** The Hermit
I would strongly recommend that you read The Chariot first, because I am quite certain you won't know what the hell is going on in this phase of the story if you haven't! But I leave the decision making all to you, your choice…:o)
Oh AND this is Draco having lots of feelings for Harry, so if that does not rock your boat -do not read on.
*****Chapter One – The Longest day (i)
There was still time. It hadn't run out. Harry was still alive. There was still time.
The next few moments in the alley continued in a rapid motion of noise and sound.
All Draco remembered is gripping onto Harry as tightly as he could. People were speaking but he wasn't registering much, just fragments of sentences here and there. His heart was palpitating tremulously in his chest and his head was filled with panic-stricken thoughts.
He saw a glint near Harry's feet. Glass. Glasses. Harry's glasses. He stretched out his fingers and grabbed them.
'…..emergency portkey's been activated…'
Harry was going to be ok, he would be fine, he had to be, it would be fine.
He kept the dialogue going on in his head as someone thrust an object into his hand, crushing Harry's glasses further into his palm. He felt a tug and he blinked, as the ground seemed to give way underneath him. The next second he found himself on the floor of a large room, joined by a few of the people from the alley.
Harry was still in his arms.
They were still in the same position.
And the blood was still flowing.
Now onto the white tiles.
It was a hospital. He could smell he was in a hospital. It looked like a hospital.
Then there were more people and more commotion.
He felt hands jerk him slightly as they tried to take Harry away from him, and he held on doggedly for a moment longer.
'Let go son, we have to get him help.'
Help, yes, Harry needed help.
He let go.
Harry needed help.
In a daze he got to his feet and was ushered outside the room.
There were lots of people. Going in and out of the room where they had kept Harry.
And then the door shut.
Yes, he was in a hospital.
Harry would be ok. He would get better.
Draco stood shaking in the corridor staring at the closed door.
Magic. They would magically make Harry better. They would stop the blood. They would make him better.
He could feel his throat tighten and he couldn't breathe. It was so hard to breathe.
What were they doing? Was he all right?
He stood frozen to where he was standing for many minutes.
'We need to ask you some questions. You came in with Mr Potter yes?'
Draco turned at the sudden voices, and was faced with two men in green robes.
'Huh? Yeah,' he nodded.
'We need you tell us exactly what happened and what you saw.'
They led Draco into a smaller room opposite to the one where Harry was.
Draco's word came out in broken sentences filled with lots of stuttering and pauses as he took in painful gasps of air just to keep on talking. He told them everything he could. From the moment he had entered Hogsmeade to when he had just arrived at the hospital.
When he finished, they looked at him with horrified expressions.
' How is he? Is he ok?' Draco's words rushed out earnestly in his need for some information. The two men looked at one another.
'What?' Draco cried out,' I just…is he ok?'
' We have several Healers and medi-wizards working on stabilising him. You sit here ok? And we'll send someone in shortly.'
'I…but….' Draco looked at them and shook his head,' will someone tell me how he is?'
One of the men nodded and said,' we'll send word son, you just sit tight.'
Draco swallowed hard and shakily sat in a chair that was pushed towards him.
'Are you hurt?'
Draco looked up,' what? No I'm not I…' he looked down at his hands. In his right hand he was still holding onto Harry's glasses. They were smudgy with bloody fingerprints. They were covered in Harry's blood. His hands were covered in Harry's blood.
'It's his blood,' he whispered,' it's not mine, it's his,' he drew his fingers tight around the frames and held onto them with both hands.
'You just sit tight all right?' the same man repeated and they left the room.
Draco was alone, in a room, in a hospital and Harry was…
He sat quaking in the chair, ridden with anxiety as the minutes tick-tocked by.
He got up and paced around the room. He would go mad sitting here. He reached for the door and found that it did not open. Feeling alarmed, he tried to turn the handle vigorously. It wouldn't open.
His wand… his cloak…. He couldn't remember.. Where were they?
He banged on the door loudly and called out.
A minute later the door opened and a kindly looking woman stood before him. She looked a little like Madam Pomfrey.
'It's ok dear, you can come out.'
'It was locked,' he said,' I…'
' I know,' she said gently. She touched his arm,' here you can sit here.'
She motioned towards a chair against the wall, right next to Harry's door.
He didn't want to sit; he wanted to find out how Harry was.
'He's still in there?' Draco asked, licking his dry lips.
This all felt so surreal, so nightmarish. He felt as if he was caught in a terrible dream. It didn't feel real. He felt so bewildered and afraid.
Things like this didn't happen in real life.
But they had, and it was very real.
There was no one he knew, no face he recognised. He felt a knot of tears catch his throat.
'Do you know how he is?' he said, fighting the urge to cry.
She shook her head this time. ' They're trying their best, we just have to wait.'
He forced himself to take a deep breath and giving up, sat down again.
Time passed; how much time he didn't know – only that it felt like forever.
Eventually the door opened and several Healers walked out. Draco rushed to the door just as an elderly man was shutting it behind him.
'How is he?' he asked, his words tripping over his breath. ' Can I go in?'
The man didn't respond looking flustered.
The kindly lady moved forward and past the man. She opened the door and let Draco in.
' You can sit on the chair by the wall if you like, but they are coming back so try and keep out of the way.'
Draco nodded gratefully.
There were a few chairs on the right hand side of the room. Harry's bed was on the left and was shielded from view by a thick curtain that surrounded it.
He began to walk towards the curtain and was startled as the Healers came back into the room. He moved to the chairs, opposite the bed and sank down looking at the serious faces of the green robed persons as they disappeared behind the curtain. He could make out flashes of lights and murmurs from behind the divide.
As long as they were working on Harry, it meant that Harry was alive. And that was good. He was alive.
His heart was beating heavily in his chest and his mind was racing with unbidden thoughts.
What if Harry didn't make it? What if he didn't get better? What if..? No, no, he had to. He had to get better. He would.
Draco tried unsuccessfully to calm himself down. He took in a few long breaths as the flickering lights from behind the curtain seized. Yet another Healer came into the room and went behind the curtains. More words. After a while the curtain parted and several of them left, a few glancing towards Draco on their way out. Draco sprang up and ran to Harry's side.
He realised that he still had a death grip on Harry's glasses and laid them on the table beside the bed. He looked for a moment at Harry and then reached for Harry's hand and held it gently in his.
He trailed his thumb over the limp hand. Harry looked so pale. His lips were pale. The pink, soft, lips had gone a waxy yellow colour. His eyelashes and brows were a vivid black against the white pallor of his skin.
All the blood had been wiped away.
There had been so much blood.
It was so frightening seeing Harry lying so still like that. His eyes were closed and he looked….
Draco swallowed viciously and breathed in deeply.
He bent his head to kiss Harry's hand.
Soon there was more noise as the door opened behind him.
'Draco? Draco? What on earth are you doing here?' came an incredulous, sharp voice from behind him.
Draco swivelled his head to look at the stunned faces of Professor Snape, Remus Lupin and Dumbledore. Dumbledore's blue eyes pierced him for a moment and the silence swallowed the shock of the three new figures in the room who were now staring at Draco.
And Draco's hand holding Harry's.
He did not speak.
Dumbledore locked eyes with him for a fraction longer and then walked to the other side of Harry's bed and looked down with a sombre expression upon his face. His normally serene face was lined with distress and worry as he gazed at Harry.
Draco's eyes fell back once again to the bed.
'Dray-co?' Professor Snape persisted, emphasising his name clearly into two syllables. His voice was barely suppressing his disbelief.
'Leave him be Severus, we have more pressing matters to attend to. Mr Malfoy would you be so kind as to let us alone with Harry for a few moments?'
Draco looked up at Dumbledore's face reluctantly and slowly lifted his hand away from Harry's. He nodded silently and then moved away, glancing at his housemaster quickly as he reached the door and went out.
He leaned against the wall with his head down as he waited. His face was devoid of expression as his thoughts crashed into one another inside his head.
Now he was able to identify the sick feeling he'd had since yesterday. It hadn't been a 'bug' or nerves; it had been that 'feeling'. He had had that once before when he was younger. He remembered feeling so unsettled all day and his mother had thought that he was coming down with something. She was debating on whether to stay home as she was supposed to be going out to a party that night, but his father had reassured her that Draco was all right and that she should go.
Draco recalled feeling violently sick as he watched his mother leave the house. A few hours later they had received an urgent owl to say that Narcissa had been in a very bad accident and Lucius should come immediately. He had been six and they had all been in France visiting family.
He hadn't had that feeling again – till now. It wasn't to say that every time something bad happened he felt this way, he didn't. But once again he hadn't paid that distinct feeling any attention and had instead made up excuses for his fragile condition. He should have come to Harry sooner, he could have stopped this…
Two medi-wizards were approaching the room and then went inside. Draco slouched against the wall and stared at the floor.
Finally after some time the door opened and Dumbledore came out, followed by Remus Lupin. He saw their feet and a swish of their cloaks as they walked away from the room and a bit further down the corridor. They were joined with staff members from the hospital who had been tending to Harry. Draco straightened up and walked slightly closer, so that he could hear what they were saying.
' …….it's going to take some considerable time for his wounds to heal. We've managed to save his spleen and patched up the other damaged organs but there have been multiple injuries to several of them and they are not healing as well as we had hoped. It is obvious that he has had a very large dose of dark magic penetrate his blood stream. Ironically enough it seems that the upsurge of magic in his body is what kept him alive through his considerable injuries. We have yet to identify what kind it is and how and if we can cure it. The next forty-eight hours will be very critical. We'll be monitoring him around the clock…'
Draco started and looked behind him. He was standing face to face with Professor Snape.
'Err can I go back in?' he asked, meeting his housemaster's penetrating gaze for a fleeting second.
A mystified expression settled itself over his teacher but Draco did not respond to it.
A slight cock of a brow and,' yes you may,' and Draco slipped back into the room.
He pulled a chair next to Harry's bed and sat in it. He automatically reached for Harry's hand again and kissed it as his eyes fixed on Harry's face. He sensed Professor Snape come in and stand behind him. There was a pregnant pause for a few moments and Draco resisted the burning heat of curiosity emanating from the potions master. He carried on softly stroking Harry's hand.
'Pardon the intrusion Draco, but may I ask exactly what you are doing here? And what is the nature of your relationship with Potter?' He emphasised his words clearly, as if saying them that way would make him somehow believe the situation better.
Draco could hear the deep curiosity simmering under the words. It was against the professor's nature to be asking such personal questions and it was obvious that his level of incredulity was being tested. He had been almost rendered speechless earlier. Draco could tell.
He let the silence fall around them once again. He had not planned for anyone to be finding out about him and Harry…certainly not in this way. But it didn't seem to matter now. It wasn't important. It wasn't supposed to be this way but nothing about today had gone to plan and nor had it been forgiving. It had been unrelenting in its anguish and admitting how he felt about Harry was the only bloom amongst the bitter and twisted thorns.
He sighed and then started to speak.
'I was going to apologise,' Draco said softly.' I was going to apologise and we were going to be okay. I'd hoped. I'd thought it all out and planned it.'
'I love him.'
There he had said it.
He had said it in front of another person who was not Harry and nothing had happened. The universe had not stopped spinning; the land had not cracked open. He had not been fired with thunderbolts. Time had not stood still. Nothing had happened at all. The only impact the words had had were undoubtedly on his professor. Draco heard him suck in a shocked gasp, which he failed to disguise in his obvious horror.
But it didn't matter.
Draco didn't care much for anyone's horror; he was too fully entrenched in his own horror to accommodate anyone else's.
Professor Snape did not speak a word and the quiet drew out in between them like a long stretch of desert, distancing them further apart. Further than the few short metres of the room. Everything seemed distant and vague- except Harry.
All he could see was Harry.
'For how long Draco?' the words lay heavily in the air again.
Draco shrugged tiredly,' a few weeks. It's been a few weeks. I ended it with him yesterday. I told him I didn't want to be with him. That it had all been a lie. I spent the whole day regretting what I had done and spent hours trying to think of how to apologise to him. I waited all day…' his voice suddenly broke.
He felt tears well in his eyes and burn the rims. ' I waited all day to say sorry and I never did. I waited too long and it's all my fault.'
The tears then slipped down his cheeks, and he let them. He didn't care. He didn't care who saw them or what they made of them. So what? So fucking what?
'What is your fault?'
' I should have said sorry earlier,' he sniffed. 'I should have done it when I had the chance to,' he cried.' I should have done it at breakfast but I was worried about everybody looking at us and what they would think. What would happen? I wasted so much time.'
Who cared if people found out? So what if he had gone up to Harry at breakfast?
Harry was struggling for his life and he had been worried about what people would think?
He felt his self-loathing travel up his throat.
' I could have stopped him from going to town,' he choked.' Maybe if I had said sorry I could have got him to listen and we could have spent the day together at school. Maybe I could have gone to town with him. He would never have been alone and I could have stopped it. It's my fault. If I hadn't….' he started to sob then. He couldn't stop himself. The sobs tore out of him and he let them engulf him.
'It's my fault. If I had been with him this wouldn't have happened. I should have said sorry. I should never have broken up with him in the first place. It was him. I saw him. He did this and I could have stopped it.'
'Draco it is most certainly not your fault. Do you honestly think that the Dark Lord had happened upon Potter by chance? He must have been planning this for months. You cannot for even a minute begin to think that you could have prevented this from happening. If it didn't happen today then it would have happened on the next trip to Hogsmeade. The Easter holidays, the summer holidays. He would have done this eventually. Maybe you would have bought Potter some time but if the Dark Lord was meaning for this to happen, he would have seen to it that it would. He would have stopped at nothing Draco. Who knows, even if you had been there at the time, one can't tell if you would have prevented it at all.'
Draco suddenly turned his face towards him, ' did you know that this would happen? Did you know what he was planning?'
'No Draco I did not.'
Draco gave a once nod and felt his heart tug.
'He must have been in so much pain,' he felt his tears spill and wet his face. ' It must have hurt so much. I can't believe it. I saw him earlier and thought that I would be able to…. I can't believe what's happened.'
'Draco these things rarely come with prior warning. They happen when you least expect it and they turn your world upside down in a space of a few minutes. Nothing is ever the same again. And they happen Draco, all the time.'
Draco turned his head and cast an eye at Professor Snape's unmoving expression. Was he speaking from experience? It certainly sounded like it.
'Has Dumbledore called his family?' Draco asked wiping his eyes.
Professor Snape regarded him directly under his unwavering gaze. ' I assume he has contacted those who need to be notified.'
'His godfather?' Draco stumbled, not quite sure how much the professor knew, 'I mean I know he is umm you know, but he is an Animagus right? He could, I dunno. Harry would want him here wouldn't he?'
He looked at Harry's face and reached out and unnecessarily stroked his hair back off his forehead.
Professor Snape was silent and Draco looked at him enquiringly,' sir?'
Professor Snape rubbed his chin and looked decidedly uncomfortable,' his godfather is no longer alive Draco. He died last year, just before the summer term ended.'
Draco's mouth fell open,' what? He died? But….. I didn't know that. No one does. I mean in the Slytherin house. No one has said anything about Black dying…' he trailed off.
Harry hadn't said a word. Draco hadn't known. Not that Harry and him had shared many details about their personal lives but still… His godfather had died?
The timeline of events clicked swiftly in his head.
'The night my father got arrested?'
'How did he die?'
'Draco, I don't think I would be the best person to disclose such details to you…'
'What? Why not?' his stomach lurched,' it didn't have something to do with my father did it?'
'No Draco,' the professor soothed,' your father was not involved in Black's demise.'
'How did he die?' Draco asked again.
'This is not the time or place to discuss such things.'
Draco sighed. Professor Snape was right.
'Draco, I cannot begin to stress how vulnerable a place you are situating yourself in. Being here, like this. I respect that your private matters are your own but….' the professor faltered.
' I know what you are saying sir, but none of that matters. Harry making it through is the only thing of any importance to me right now. I'll deal with the rest later. Please. Don't try and talk me out of anything, because I will not listen.'
He turned his face back to Harry.
'There are some things that I need to see to Draco. You will be all right here?'
'I'll be fine sir.'
He heard Professor Snape walk out of the room. He leant over and touched Harry's forehead. He was cool to touch but not cold. Draco looked at the bedside cabinet and saw a glass of water sitting upon it. He dipped his forefinger into it and hunched over to moisten Harry's lips. He ran his fingertip gently over the soft dry lips, dampening them.
He sat back into his seat. The Healers continued to come in and out of the room but they did not ask Draco to leave. Draco's gaze fell to Harry's glasses. He reached for them and got a tissue to wipe the lenses. He wiped them till they sparkled and set them back onto the cabinet.
He'll need them when he wakes up, Draco thought.
He suddenly saw blood. At the corner of Harry's mouth.
He grabbed a tissue and wiped the small trickle of red away. A bubble of panic rose within him again. His hands shook as the scarlet shade soaked into the white tissue. He yelled out and two Healers rushed in quickly. Draco showed them the tissue.
'He had blood coming out of his mouth.'
They nodded and asked Draco to leave the room as they approached Harry quickly.
He stood outside as another gentleman joined the team inside the room.
Five minutes later, the door opened again and he received a strained smile from one of the men.
'I can go back in?'
The man nodded and Draco went back inside.
A half an hour or so later, the door to the room opened once again.
'Still here Mr Malfoy?'
'I wondered if you might want to have a wash. Perhaps you would like to freshen up?'
Draco shook his head,' No I'm fine thank you. Did you notify Harry's family?'
He lifted his head and looked into the grave face of the tall, elderly wizard.
'I have notified the appropriate people yes.' A momentary pause and then, 'you would be more comfortable back at school Mr Malfoy. Will you not consider it?'
Draco instantly knew what the headmaster was getting at.
'No thank you. I'm not going anywhere. I am not leaving his side. No one can make me or force me to do so. I just want to be here and stay here with him,' Draco finished with a determined edge to his voice.
He would under no circumstances leave Harry's side. He was not going to go anywhere tonight.