Disclaimer:as always, not mine, belong to JK Rowling, make no money from this, etc. etc.
A/N:please inform me if there are any typos and suchlike. I wrote the entire 3,027 words in the space of about 4 hours (started and finished today) and haven't read it through massively closely.
A/N 2:I have never taken drugs, so please inform me if portrayals are incorrect (I'm going by what I've seen on TV/in films and what I've read about)
This fic contains references to drug use.
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"Has anyone seen Draco?" I ask as I walk into the Slytherin common room. Due to the rowdy, improvised, as-many-players-as-you-want volleyball game taking place between the first- and third-years, and their opponents, the second- and fourth-years, my words go virtually unheeded. I have to duck to avoid injury from the ball as third-year brat Malcolm Baddock whacked it in my direction. I think it was accidental, but you can never tell with Baddock. I've lost track of the number of detentions and suchlike that he's had.
I look round to see Theodore Nott, a fellow sixth-year, standing behind me. "What?"
"I think Draco's up in the dorm. He said something about wanting a bit of space – which is pretty impossible in here at the moment," he replies, throwing the ball very pointedly directly at Baddock's face. Theo doesn't like him any more than I do.
"Think he'll mind if I go and bother him?"
Theo shrugs. "Dunno. But he was acting a bit weird."
Thatgets my attention. Theo's pretty good at reading people, but Draco's hard to read because of the arrogant front he puts on. Most people can't see past it. I'm one of the few who can. Theo usually can't, so it must be something fairly major. "How do you mean, weird?" I demand.
Theo shrugs again, awkwardly this time. "I don't know. It's hard to describe."
I grab his arm and haul him over to the corner of the common room furthest from the game. "Tell me, Theo." I don't intend to come across so aggressively, but where Draco's concerned I can't help it. He's my best friend and I know him too well. He has self-destructive tendencies, and him acting 'weird' – as Theo put it – immediately sounded warning bells in my head.
Theo hesitates, as though considering how best to put into words Draco's behaviour. "He seemed a bit…distracted. Not quite with it. Preoccupied, as though he had something big on his mind."
"So?" That in itself doesn't mean much; Draco's got a lot to deal with at the moment, and he's easily distracted anyway. "What else?"
"He seemed agitated. Stressed. He was muttering to himself about something – and before you ask, no, I don't know what. I didn't hear what he was saying. I stopped him to ask him about the Arithmancy homework and he said he was going up to the dorm because he wanted some space – what?"
I release him and hurry to the doorway that led to the boys' dorm. When Draco starts going on about "needing some space", that usually means that there's something really bothering him. I don't look to see if Theo's with me; I don't really care.
I get to the sixth-year boys' dorm and throw open the door, not bothering to knock. If there had been anyone standing naked in the middle of the room at that point it would have been tough luck on them. Fortunately I'm saved from such traumatising views; nobody is there. I do, however, see that the curtains around Draco's bed are drawn. I approach the bed cautiously; it's not a good idea to suddenly spring things on him. If you do that, then quite frankly you deserve to spend a week in the hospital wing recovering from whatever hex he's thrown at you in defence. "Draco?"
The response from behind the curtains is a groan, as though he's ill. This can't be good.
"I'm opening the curtains now," I warn him. A moment later I do.
And stumble back in shock. Theo, who did come after all, catches me. My blood runs cold and I can feel it draining from my face. A sort of detachment falls over me. Theo swears – purely from shock. Theo hardly ever swears – he says it implies lower social status, bad parenting and lesser breeding. I'm inclined to agree.
I shake myself. "Draco?"
He nods weakly. He's lying on his bed, white as death, curled up. That is not what has caused the reactions from Theo and myself.
It's the syringe clutched in his left hand (his dominant hand). The cord of some sort tied round his right upper arm. The injection sites on his arm (I'm sure there's a proper term for them but I don't know what it is).
"I…I think I took too much," Draco whispers. He sounds dazed, out of it, only semi-conscious.
"Damn right you did," Theo tells him harshly. "What the hell are you playing at, Draco? Do you realise what you've done? To yourself and to people like Pansy and me? Madam Pomfrey? Snape?"
I suddenly snap back into real time. "Keep him talking, Theo," I order. Not waiting for a response, I tear out of the dorm, adrenaline and panic taking over, and down the stairs into the common room. "SOMEONE GET SNAPE NOW!" I scream at them. Silence hits. "SOMEONE GO TO POMFREY AND TELL HER WE'VE GOT A MEDICAL EMERGENCY!"
Second-year Mhairi O'Donnell takes off, with her best friend Jackie Ormerod close behind. I fly back to Draco. Theo's doing his best to keep him lucid, but perhaps now is not the best time to be ticking him off for the evils of drug-taking. "Leave the lecturing to Pomfrey," I snap, sitting down beside Draco on the bed. His eyes are glazed over and he's groaning, clearly in a lot of discomfort. "What did you take? Draco? What the hell did you take?" I want to shake him. I want to shake him so hard to emphasise how utterly stupid he's been. I can't believe this is happening. I know he's self-destructive, but this is ridiculous. "Draco!"
He mumbles something that I don't quite catch.
"What was that? I didn't hear you."
"Heroin." Theo's voice is curt, brusque, furious beyond angry. He's standing rigidly upright, arms folded tightly across his chest, face hard. "It has to be. I've seen it before."
Too late I remember that his sister died of a heroin overdose three years ago, just after she left Hogwarts. This is going from bad to worse. I'm shaking. I don't know what to think or say. I don't know how I feel. I have to focus on Draco. He's slipping more and more out of it, barely conscious, struggling to keep his eyes open. He looks horrendous and he can't seem to stop groaning. There are tears glistening on his eyelashes and some are starting to escape. The syringe is still gripped tightly in his hand.
"Why, Draco?" demands Theo. He can't mask the anger and pain in his voice. This must be horrific for him; he's seen it all with his sister and now this is bringing back those memories. I don't understand this. I'm confused. Bewildered. I should have seen this coming. I should have guessed something was going on.
Draco whispers something in a pained voice. I can't understand what he's saying. "What did you say?" I ask.
He takes a shaky, quavering breath. He's trying not to cry; I know he is. "To…to escape." He's fighting desperately to stay awake, to stay with us. It's a losing battle.
I shift my position on the bed and ease his head into my lap. I brush his blond hair back from his forehead, which is sweaty and clammy now, and continue gently stroking his face in a desperate attempt to provide him with some kind of comfort. I don't care that my hand feels horrible, don't care that there are tears in my own eyes now, don't care that I'm openly crying in front of Draco and Theo, don't care that my heart is slowly breaking as my best friend is gradually slipping away from me. I close my eyes and pray to whatever God is listening that Draco will be saved.
The door to the dorm bursts open. Snape. He reaches us in a few swift strides. His dark eyes see the syringe but he does not comment on it. He knows there is no time. Questions are for later. He eases the syringe from Draco's weakening grip. "Bring that with us, Nott. Don't let anyone see what it is," he orders, not even glancing at Theo as he lifts Draco into his arms and begins to carry him to the hospital wing. Theo and I follow, neither of us speaking. I feel sick. Scared. Bewildered. Why has Draco done this?
The Slytherins gathered in the common room are silent, staring, curious. I spot Mhairi in the crowd, as pale as her school shirt. One threatening glare from Snape and they all hurriedly turn away to do homework, play games, discuss plans of various sorts. We leave them to it.
Once we're out in the corridors Snape picks up the pace, striding ever faster. I have to jog fast to keep up, and Theo almost has to. We don't pass many students – and for that I'm glad. The Slytherins won't talk, but I'm sure someone will find out sooner or later. Gossip in Hogwarts spreads like wildfire. Of course, by the time it gets back to us, most of the upper years in our house will apparently have been involved in a big drugs party.
Draco isn't with us any more. He's gone beyond our reaches of conversation. Unconsciousness has claimed him. I can feel the panic rising in me. What if it's too late? Have I lost him? What if Madam Pomfrey can't do anything? Why did he do this? Was it deliberate, or an accident? Was he trying to kill himself or did he just take more than his body could handle?
We're at the hospital wing. Pomfrey's waiting, equipment and potions ready. I don't know what any of them do. They look so scary. Will they do any good? What if they do more harm?
Snape puts Draco down on the bed and Theo shakily tells her that he's pretty sure it's heroin. Pomfrey immediately sets to work. She takes some blood and injects something into Draco's arm, checks his pulse and breathing, feels his skin, does an all-over check. She glances at Theo and myself. "Get them out of here, Severus," she orders. "I don't want them seeing this."
Snape gives an apologetic half-smile and guides us into Pomfrey's office. He returns to her and draws the curtain around them so Theo and I can't see what's going on. I think somehow this is worse, the not knowing.
My knees buckle under me. As in the dorm, Theo catches me, and he guides me into one of the soft chairs in the office. I'm numb now. I can't feel anything. I feel like I'm in a dream, where things are happening around me but I'm not actually part of it. It looks like Theo's in the same state. Shock, don't they call it?
I don't know how long it is before Pomfrey and Snape return. The moment I see them everything comes rushing back, hitting me like a Bludger whacked by a professional Beater. I'm shaking. I'm shaking really badly. I can't stop. The tears start coming. I can't stop them. I'm gasping for breath. Has he died? Is he going to? Will he make it?
Pomfrey sits down on the chair next to me and puts a hand on my shoulder. The touch calms some of the shaking. She looks seriously at me. "Do you want anything?"
I blink, not sure how to respond for a moment. "Just – just tell me how – how bad…" My voice doesn't sound like it belongs to me. It's wobbly, almost gasping, desperate, panicked.
"He's very, very ill," she starts.
"Just tell me!" I'm almost in hysterics.
"He's unconscious at the moment."
"I'm confident that he'll pull through."
I can't speak. Thank God. Thank whatever God heard and answered my prayer. Maybe the Muggles are right; maybe there is something in this God thing, after all.
"We can't yet determine the extent of the damage," she warns me. "There could easily be some permanent damage to his body."
Oh God, no. Please no.
"I've contacted St. Mungo's. I'm trained in physical medicine; Draco needs specialist psychiatric help, and I don't have the knowledge or skills to offer that. Do you have any idea where he could have got the drugs from?"
I shake my head. "I didn't know he was taking drugs."
"Mr. Nott?" She looks up at Theo, who is still standing.
He holds up his hands and shrugs helplessly. "I didn't know either. I doubt anyone does."
She glances over to Snape. "Severus?"
Snape hesitates briefly. "His aunt Bellatrix occasionally used heroin. Now she's out of Azkaban and in hiding, it is entirely possible that she has been in contact with him and is his supplier."
Pomfrey nods grimly. "I entertained that notion. Any idea why, anyone?"
I nod. "He – he said something about escaping."
"He was too out of it to elaborate," Theo puts in. "When my sister was doing drugs it was really complicated and there were loads of reasons why."
"Can I see him?" I cut in.
Pomfrey and Snape share a quick look. They probably think I wouldn't notice but I did. Pomfrey looks dubious and reluctant. "I don't know if that's a good idea, Miss Parkinson…"
"It's not a pretty sight –"
"I saw him in the dorm struggling to stay conscious when he was holding a syringe in his hand and with injection marks on his arm and you're worried about how he looks!" I shout furiously, jumping to my feet. "I think it's a bit late for that; don't you?"
"She does have a point," concedes Snape drily.
Pomfrey sighs in resignation. "Don't say I didn't warn you." She puts a hand on my shoulder and steers me in the right direction. Theo tags along behind, having not been refused permission to also see Draco. If permission or lack of is not specified, Theo generally assumes it to mean that permission has been given. That's what he points out to people when they say that he shouldn't be somewhere: "you didn't say I couldn't". It annoys people no end; I'm sure he does it deliberately, just to see how far he can push people. Theo likes to stretch boundaries as much as he possibly can.
Pomfrey draws back the curtain. Although I was expecting something fairly bad, it's still a shock. There are several tubes going into his arms and a mask over his face. Pomfrey says it's to help him breathe. He's never had the biggest of physical presences, but now he looks so, so small. He looks vulnerable, barely more than a child. He's thin, and I know he's lost weight since last year.
I turn to Pomfrey. "Can I talk to him? Will he know I'm here?"
She nods. "He's drifting in and out of consciousness. Whether he'll remember you've been here is another matter. As I said before, I don't know what damage, if any, has been done."
I go over to him and take his right hand in mine. There's a tube going into the back of it and I can't help wincing. "Draco, I don't know if you know I'm here, but I am. Me. Pansy." I pause as Pomfrey brings a chair over and I sit down, never letting go of his hand. "You – you really scared me. I don't know why you did it. I want to know why. I want you to explain it to me. I want you to know that you can trust me. And – and there's a doctor coming from St. Mungo's and they'll want to know why because then, if you let them, they can help you stop doing all the drugs stuff because it's not good for you, and they can help you get better. I – I want to know if you…" I pause to take a deep breath and to regain my composure. "I want to know if you meant to take that overdose…"
I stop as he slowly, briefly, shakes his head feebly. He's awake. He's awake! He reaches up to his face. It's painfully slow but I let him do it. He takes the mask off. "I…I didn't mean to…" he whispers, barely audibly, his voice earnest. His eyes are only half-open but they convey that earnestness even more than his voice.
"You don't know how glad I am to hear you say that," I tell him, reaching up and gently brushing his hair from his eyes. His face looks thin as well, and tormented. He's desperately ill, I know that. It's heartwrenching, heartbreaking, to see him like this. I wish I'd picked up on it sooner. There must have been something to indicate that things weren't as they should be, that something was wrong. Theo's probably thinking the same thing. It's probably worse for him – he shares a dorm with Draco so he's probably blaming himself for not noticing. Theo's good at blaming himself for stuff.
"Why did you stay?" Draco whispers. "I mean, surely it would be bad for your reputation to be seen with a drug-user?"
I shrug. "To hell with reputation. I don't care about it." And it's true; I don't. "You're my best friend. I can't abandon you. You're going to need me. You can't do this on your own." I bite my lip to keep back the tears. It's all such a huge shock. Not only have I just learned that my best friend has been using drugs – and one like heroin at that – but he's nearly died because he took too much.
It's no good; I can't keep back the tears. "I – I thought you were going to die, Draco! You have to stop this! Promise me – promise me you'll do everything you can."
I meet his eyes – tired, lost, hurting eyes – briefly and he nods.
A victory. I know there are going to be ups and downs. I know it's going to be a rollercoaster. I know he's going to have really bad days. But every good day is a victory. He can do this. I know he can.
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