Disclaimer: I solemnly swear I'm up to no good with these characters that belong to JK Rowling and her chosen representatives, the licensed holders of the HP universe copyright.

A/N: I'm still new at this and a bit nervous so review so I can be a better writer eventually! Oh and before I forget, this is un-beata'd…sorry and let me now say for those who didn't catch it in the poorly written summary...this story is slash! Gentle slash, but slash nonetheless so don't read it if HPDM isn't your cuppa!

1.

"Ron have you noticed something off about Draco lately?" Hermione was quiet, most of the Order members living at 12 Grimmauld Place were asleep and the corridors were dim.

Her husband snorted, "Something's always off with that git Mione." The three years of alliance had not diminished the animosity between the childhood rivals.

She shook her head as they approached their quarters, "No, I mean more so than usual. He's been…I don't know—depressed lately or something. I'm worried about him."

Ron kissed her cheek, "You're too caring for your own good Luv. Malfoy is an arse; a spoiled selfish bigot who's just waiting for his chance to stab us all in the back. If he's been moping it's because Harry's been away these last months searching for the last Horcrux and he hasn't been able to put his plans to betray us all into action."

"Ron," his wife sighed, "I really do wish you'd get over the feud between you. Draco's apologised for how he treated us in school. He's fought alongside us for the last two years. He's been loyal and devoted to the Order, and need I remind you, last year he saved the man I love more than life during an ambush, risking his own life to keep you safe for me." She kissed him lightly, "I know it's hard to believe considering how he was raised and how he acted but he has changed and if for no other reason you should try to accept him because he makes Harry happy."

Ron frowned, "The only reason I haven't gotten him kicked out of this house or worked harder to get him thrown out of the Order is because he saved my life Hermione. It doesn't mean I trust him or that I ever will."

He swallowed, "As for Harry…he's my best mate. I love him like a brother, and because I love him I'm hoping he'll come to his senses soon, drop the ferret and pick up again with Ginny or someone else who isn't a sneaking slimy bastard."

Hermione sighed, she was getting nowhere with her husband. No matter how often they discussed or argued about Draco's change and his commitment to the Order Ron would never see more than the selfish and cruel 11 year old who mocked his family's poverty and teased him about his hand-me-down robes.

Granted it had taken her a long time to trust the young man as well. After Dumbledore's death they were all convinced that Draco's soul couldn't be salvaged, that he'd given himself over completely to Voldemort and malignance of his father's teachings. It had come as quite a shock to learn that the events of that horrific night had been orchestrated in part by their venerated leader. It was Draco's final test and as much as he had failed he had been victorious. He hadn't been able to kill and Dumbledore, knowing that the young man's life would be forfeit should he trust the strength and goodness of his own heart, ordered Snape to end his life and protect the boy as best he could.

The former Potions Master had done just that, keeping Draco hidden and protecting him from Voldemort and the Death Eaters calling for his blood because of his failure. It wasn't enough that Narcissa Malfoy's life had been forfeit and that her mutilated body was left in the dungeons of Malfoy Manor as a warning and a punishment.

Orphaned, as Lucius Malfoy received the Dementor's Kiss shortly before the start of 6th form, emotionally reeling and physically weak from months of worry and living as a fugitive from both sides of the war it was a changed Draco Malfoy who made his way into Grimmauld Place seven months after his failed attempt on Dumbledore's life.

He'd been seized during the solemn Christmas holiday gathering by outraged Order members and before Snape could arrive and explain all Harry and the Weasley brothers exacted physical retribution for the loss of their beloved mentor. It was Mad-Eye Moody, of all people, who'd pulled the angry young men away before they'd been able to kill their traitorous classmate and brought his broken battered body to the small infirmary set up at the headquarters.

Several hours later Snape arrived surrounded by a protective shield. He asked that he be given a chance to speak before anyone made judgements about his loyalty. Wary, the gathered Order listened to his far-fetched tale, but ultimately they believed, even the suspicious Moody as Snape had submitted to questioning under Veritaserum and humbled himself by exposing his memories in Harry's pensieve.

He'd been furious when he realised what happened when Draco arrived seeking asylum. He'd given all of them a tongue-lashing that shamed anything they'd received in school. He was disgusted that the "supposed warriors of righteousness and goodness" would act out such violence and hatred on one who was obviously defenceless. It was a pathetic reflection on Dumbledore's teaching and an insult to his memory that those he'd held such faith in had acted as little more than thugs. After his tirade Draco's attackers, with the exception of Ron Weasley, were feeling well and truly chastised.

Those who'd followed him to the infirmary were shocked as the unflappable and stoic spy brushed blood matted hair away from a pale bruised face and cried, apologising to the boy for sending him ahead into as much danger as he'd left behind. He asked the comatose young man for forgiveness explaining that he'd had to stay to throw Death Eaters off his trail and keep his cover intact.

Unfortunately, Madam Pomfrey wasn't able to come to headquarters that evening and Draco slipped into a coma before morning. He'd sustained major trauma during the attack, several ribs were cracked, a couple that were broken had punctured his lungs, he'd suffered massive head trauma from the kicks and blows aimed at his head and face causing bleeding in his skull. His collarbone was fractured in two places and someone had stomped on his leg breaking the fragile bone. It hadn't helped that he was malnourished and magically drained. His magic's ability to help him heal had been taxed sustaining his life during his time on the lam when he'd often had little to eat for days at a time.

Snape couldn't stay with him; he had to return to Voldemort as soon as possible to keep suspicion off himself, especially since the Dark Lord had not been pleased to learn that somehow he'd allowed "the weakling" to escape from Malfoy Manor following Narcissa's death. So Harry, Molly, and Hermione had done what they could until Madam Pomfrey arrived. She shooed them all away and got to work immediately trying to stabilise her patient but it was long and hard work. It wasn't until late that evening that the Matron made her way to report.

Tight-lipped she glared at the Order's younger members. "He was in danger physically anyway. Merlin knows what that boy's been through these last months. I hope that you lot feel vindicated for whatever sins you feel he may have committed as you nearly killed him. As it is he is so weakened his magic can barely aid the healing process and it will be at least a month before he's able to move about. I've employed both Muggle and magical means to stabilise him. Muggle braces will keep his body from moving so that the potions I've used can begin to work and hopefully jumpstart his innate healing ability. I've repaired and re-inflated his punctured lung but he still is unable to breathe on his own. I will check on him daily but I suspect he'll be on a ventilator for at least the next week or until he comes out of this coma. I am heartily ashamed of all of you. The Order should be above employing the same tactics of violence used by the Death Eaters. Beating a weakened defenceless man nearly to death, does nothing to bring Albus back or to honour his memory, all it does is bring you down to the same level as the very ones we're trying so hard to defeat!" With that the matron turned and flooed back to Hogwarts.

Tbc…