Purple, green and orange smoke began to pour from the classroom in the dungeon of Hogwarts as the door slammed open and students began to stumble out, many helping those who had nearly overcome with the smoke. Draco hefted one half of Crabbe as Harry supported his other half as they stumbled out into the corridor which was quickly filling with smoke. The shocked faces of the students became more so as a billowing black robed form strode out carrying a blond, coughing student over his shoulder and wearing what looked like an upside down goldfish bowl on his head. Severus Snape snapped, his voice slightly muffled by the bubble head charm he was currently sporting,
"All of you, up to the main hall….go…." as he turned and headed back into the classroom, with a quick glance at Draco and Harry, both of whom were hunched over from carrying Crabbe's not insubstantial weight. Harry and Draco exchanged a look, then both used their wands to put bubble head charms on themselves and hurried back into the room after the man who was now their father. Draco almost stumbled over a still form and bent over, grimacing as he recognized Pansy, sighing, he picked her up and hauled her out of the room, where he handed her off to Goyle, nodding at Hermione who was pulling Longbottom to his feet and herding the recalcitrant students to the stairs. She shoved Longbottom toward the stairs and came over to relieve Draco of his burden, grimacing as she slipped one of Pansy's arms over her shoulders and began to half carry, half drag the girl to the stairs. Draco turned and headed back into the room, heading toward the front where he could see his father and brother. Severus included both boys in his glare and snapped,
Harry shook his head,
"We can help…." Instead of answering, Severus reached over and grabbed Harry by the nape, heading toward the door and slowing only to grab Draco in the same manner. His fingers gripped the skin of the boy's napes as he hauled them from the classroom and shoved them across the hall, snapping,
"When I bloody tell you boys to do something, I expect you to do as I say without hesitations…do you understand me? There is NOTHING that either of you can do in that classroom except get yourselves injured, and that I will not allow. Now I want BOTH of you to get to the Great Hall…as soon as I finish tending this mess, I'll be up there….and BOTH of you can expect punishment for disobeying me" With a final glare, Severus turned and moved back into the now multicolored smoke filled room without a backward glance. Draco grabbed Harry's arm and headed toward the stairs, standing aside to let McGonagall and Flitwick past them; both already wearing bubblehead charms and looking grim. As soon as Harry and Draco cleared the stairs into the Great Hall, they removed their charms and exchanged a look, heading over to where an odd assortment of students sat or lay, coughing and gasping. Hermione stood up and rushed toward the two, throwing her arms around both of them, much to Draco's shock and surprise, as she exclaimed, "Thank goodness! I thought you'd both passed out!" She seemed to realize what she was doing and stepped back, blushing as she turned and said, "I think everyone got out….is Professor Snape ok?" Remembering his treatment, Harry snarled,
"Yeah, he's just bloody fine….snarky and nasty as ever…." Hermione forgot her embarrassment and looked at Harry, surprised. Draco sighed, he hadn't appreciated his father's reprove, but he certainly understood it. He said, turning to Harry and trying to keep his voice down, "Harry….he was just trying to protect us…" Harry said nothing, but the stormy expression on his face did not bode well and Draco sighed, dragging the clean air into his lungs. Madam Pomfrey hurried from student to student checking lungs, giving potions and tut tutting over them. Draco saw Dumbledore hurrying down the stairs, and elbowed Harry, who turned to glare at him, then followed his nod. Dumbledore hesitated at the bottom of the step and for just a moment; his eyes were worried as he checked over the students in the Great Hall. The next moment, he said, his eyes returning to their usual calm twinkle,
"Students, it appears that you have an unscheduled free period…once Poppy has released you, you may go outside into the courtyard until your next class…." He then hurried into the stairs going to the potions classroom.
Neville Longbottom, the student who had been removed from the classroom by Professor Snape, and also the cause of the latest catastrophe, sat huddled in a miserable ball, face buried in his knees as he rocked back and forth. Ginny and Hermione sat on either side of him, trying to cheer him up. Neville said nothing other than "Snape is gonna KILL me!" over and over, and nothing that anyone said seemed to get into his head. Finally, Poppy had him taken to the infirmary to try and get him to relax. Hermione and most of the other students headed outside, but she paused by where Harry and Draco were sitting on the stairs, watching the door to the dungeon. "Don't you two want to come outside with us?" Harry glared at the door, not saying anything and Draco sighed as he said, "Thanks, Hermione…but D..Professor Snape told us to wait here in the Great Hall…I think we'd better do what he said." Harry snorted, but said nothing and Hermione said,
"Ok…uhm…I hope he's not too hard on you…I mean, I know you meant well, and he does too…even if it wasn't the brightest thing to do…" Harry turned is furious green eyes on her and Hermione shut up and headed outside. Harry was usually not in such a foul mood, and Hermione felt ill-equipped to deal with it when it happened.
A few moments went by and Draco cleared his throat, causing Harry to turn and look at him, Draco said,
"She's right, you know….Dad's got a right to be angry at us" Harry glared at him and said,
"We were trying to HELP, Draco!" Irritated now as well, Draco replied,
"I know what we were trying to do, Harry…I was there, ya'know? But running back into that room after Dad told us to get out was probably one of the dumbest moves either of us have made…"
"We could help…you got Pansy out after we went back in, who would have done that if we hadn't?" Draco nodded, giving his brother that point, then said,
"But we had no idea what happened to Longbottom's potion…it might have been dangerous, it probably WAS dangerous…and our running back in just gave dad MORE things to be worried about…distracted him from what he needed to do to contain the situation. We might have caused more damage than we helped….We didn't even think of the Bubble head charms until we saw dad…."
Harry got up and began to pace, furious,
"I'm not some helpless idiot like some, Draco…I've done stuff that most adult wizards haven't….some smoke in a room wasn't going to kill me and I might have been able to help…I had a bubble head charm on….even if I was a little slow at it."
Draco snapped at Harry,
"Like some meaning me, I guess, Harry? Big Hero Potter…saving the day again…right?"
Harry stopped to stare at his brother surprised,
"That's not what I meant, Draco…I just meant that…."
"That I…errr, we…could have helped…. He didn't have to be so…so..MEAN…" Draco managed with difficulty to get his own anger under some control as he said,
"Harry, I'm sorry…I know you don't try to play the hero, but look…sometimes you just have to let others do what they do best. You can't save the world…" Draco stopped, realizing what he'd said as he looked up at his brother. Harry had stopped stock still and the two locked eyes as Harry said,
"Isn't that exactly what I'm supposed to do, Draco?" Draco sighed, and then said, standing to put his hands on Harry's shoulders,
"Yah…but not now, not here. You don't have to save the world every time, Harry. Dad's trying to protect us, BOTH of us, maybe we could try and help him with that a little, ya think? He was worried when we went back into the room and I didn't like the way he snapped at us either, but still, we should have thought it through a little better. Remember what dad says, "rushing in without thinking is like throwing yourself down as a sacrifice. Maybe in order to save the world, you have to learn to let it suffer a little…." Harry sat down, Draco's words hitting far to close to home. Neither boy said anything else and Draco soon sat next to his brother on the stairs, waiting.
It was almost an hour later when the Professors McGonagall and Flitwick headed into the Great Hall. Harry and Draco both stood up and Minerva stopped, surprised as she said,
"I thought Albus sent all of the students outside…?" Draco looked over at Harry, and when he didn't answer his head of house, Draco sighed and said,
"Da..Professor Snape told us to wait for him here…is he behind you?" The two professors's exchanged a look and Minerva said, gently,
"Professor Snape is in his rooms…why don't you two go outside with the others and I'm sure he'll see you later…"
Harry and Draco went still and Harry said,
"Is he ok?" Minerva exchanged another look with Flitwick, then said,
"I'm sure he'll be fine, boys…Poppy and Albus are with him now….why don't you two…"
Draco and Harry began to walk toward the stairway when Minerva's voice, not quite so gentle, stopped them, "Excuse me…Mr. Malfoy and Mr. Potter…I believe I told you to go outside until your next class. Please do as you're told…." Harry and Draco turned and Draco began to speak before his more furious brother could,
"But I'm sure we'd feel every so much better if we just checked on our dad before we went outside, Professor…after all, you can understand our concern…." Minerva pointed toward the main door and said, her voice hard,
"Outside, boys. Now." Draco began to argue, but Harry pinched his arm, which made Draco glance at him. Harry shook his head and the two turned and went outside, stopping just outside the door. Harry glanced back inside, but the professor's obviously were expecting them to disobey the order and stood in the hall, watching. Harry frowned, and then said, "Draco, just wait here, ok? I have to go to my room to get something…"
"NOW? We need to check…." Harry nodded, then interrupted him,
"We will…but I have to have something first…just wait here, ok?" Draco nodded unhappily and Harry re-entered the Great Hall, stopping at McGonagall's call and saying, "Professor, since we have a free period, I wanted to work on my Transfiguration homework…but my book is in my room. Can I go to the Gryffindor common room to get my book?" Minerva frowned, trying to read Harry's innocent face, and then finally nodded,
"Very well…hurry and get your book and go outside with your classmates….."
Draco waited, impatiently, and a few minutes later Harry returned, his book bag considerably larger than it had been. Harry pulled Draco to the side of the big doors, which were open to allow fresh air into the castle and the smoke to dissipate. Harry looked at his brother and said,
"Ok…first, you have to PROMISE me you won't tell anyone about this, ok?" Draco nodded, looking curiously at his brother's bag. Harry drew out a beautiful cloak, and with a glance around them to make sure no one was looking into the shadows where they stood, flipped it over himself and immediately disappeared. Draco gasped, and then looked around himself, hissing, "An invisibility cloak? THAT'S how you kept getting into the Slytherine common room and stuff all this time! You rotter!" Harry laughed as he pulled the cloak off his head and said,
"Yeah, well…you deserved it." Draco began to argue, and then nodded, grinning,
"Ok….now what? Can we both fit under there?"
"it's gonna be a little tight, but yea, I think we can…just be really quiet…." Harry quickly flipped the cloak over both of them and the two worked a few moments to get into sync. Then they moved into the Great Hall, careful to keep their feet covered, as both were a little tall to be under the same cloak. They made it into the stairwell without incident, though at one point Draco could have sworn that McGonagall KNEW they were there. Once down the stairs, they moved toward Severus' quarters, trying to move as quickly and silently as possible. The door was cracked open to the outer chamber and they stood listening to Poppy talking to Dumbledore,
"He got quite a bit of the smoke in his lungs, Albus…and the burns are going to be painful for a day or two."
"But he'll be all right, Poppy?" There was a hesitation, and then the nurse said,
"I believe so, Albus…however, with this type of damage, pneumonia is always a concern. I've given him a potion to keep his lungs clear and a sleeping draught, much against his personal wishes, I might add, and he's sleeping now. I suggest that we leave him be for a while…allow him to sleep and when he wakes, we'll see where he stands. He is worried about his sons, Albus, but I wasn't sure what to say to that…."
"Don't concern yourself with it, Poppy, I'll take care of that situation. I believe that Minerva sent the boys outside with the others. Hopefully Severus is well again before we have to tell them. Why don't you go back to the infirmary and d check on the students and I'll stay here and tend to Severus."
The boys shoved themselves back into the shadows as Poppy exited and Albus went to shut the door, then paused as Minerva hurried down, gesturing to him. He left the door open as he walked a few feet down the hall to talk to her and the boys took that opportunity to enter the outer chamber. They heard Albus asked about them and Minerva assured him that both Draco and Harry were outside with their friends, and then the boys entered the bedchambers of their father and paused.
If possible, Severus looked even paler than usual and Harry gasped a little at seeing him. He was ensconced in the big four poster bed, a sheet only slightly less white than he was covering him and a green and silver coverlet pulled to his chest. He was either sleeping soundly, or unconscious, which left both boys worried. Then Severus began to cough, sitting up in bed, he coughed harshly, his limp black hair falling into his face, his body heaving with the strength of the coughing fit. He held a piece of fabric to his face and when the fit was over, he collapsed back into the bed, breath coming in harsh pants and the fabric was flecked with bright red blood. Harry and Draco exchanged a frightened look, not sure what they should do. Severus fixed their indecision by saying, his voice harsh from the coughing,
"Both of you out from that bloody cloak, now….I rue the day you ever were given that thing, Harry….." Harry and Draco exchanged a look, then pulled the cloak off of themselves and hurried to either side of Sev's bed. Severus balled up the handkerchief and stuck it under his pillow as he said, "Don't look so worried, boys…I'll be fine. The smoke got into my lungs before I got the bubble head charm up…" Harry glanced at Draco, who was staring at Severus, and said, "We're sorry we disobeyed you, Dad….." Draco started, not expecting Harry to apologize, but nodded and said,
"Yeah…we should have listened to you the first time…whatever punishment you give us we deserve…."
Harry nodded and said, "We….errr, I need to learn to stop playing at being a hero every time….you tried to protect me and I made it harder…I'm sorry. But it wasn't Draco's fault…"
"HEY! I went back in there too…you're not taking all the blame here Harry…." Severus put up a hand and said,
"Enough boys…you both disobeyed and you'll both get your punishment…but for now, let's set that aside. Why are you both here, under that cloak?"
Harry frowned, and Draco shook his head and said,
"Because you're hurt…and we're family. This is what family does, right dad?" Severus sighed and said nothing, just held his hands out to his sons, who took them. Severus drifted back to sleep, and the boys just sat there, watching each labored breath.
That was how Albus found them twenty minutes later when he went into check on Severus. Stopping, he frowned and said,
"Harry, Draco, how did you…", then stopped when the invisibility cloak caught his eye. Sighing, he glanced at Harry and said, "Mr. Potter…I believe we'd previously had discussions about the proper, and IMPROPER method of using that cloak, have we not?" Before Harry could reply, Severus said, his voice still harsh from the coughing,
"Let them be, Albus…I prefer to have them here. They are my sons, after all and it's comforting to know that they are not engaged in any mischief." Albus almost argued, then paused and sighed, saying,
"Very well, Severus. I would like you to tell me what happened, if you're feeling up to it."
Both boys mantled up, but Severus ran his thumbs over their hands, and they calmed back down, as Severus said,
"Mr. Longbottom made a mistake in his potion, Albus. Simple as that. I was distracted by another student's situation and didn't see the mistake until the smoke began. Luckily, all the students seemed to be fine, though I understand Ms. Parkinson had some curious lung issues. Otherwise, it was easily rectified…." Albus frowned,
"It's laid you up, Severus…I don't call that easily rectified." Severus sighed,
"I'll be fine, Albus…by tomorrow my lungs will be clear, especially if you'll leave my sons here to fetch my potions as I ask for them. I assure you, both are quite qualified to assist me with this issue…" Both Draco and Harry held their heads high, proud of their father's statement and Albus sighed, irritated but accepting,
"Very well, Severus. I'll let Minerva know that your sons will be remaining here with you tonight…is there anything that I, or another ADULT can get you, Severus?" Hearing the odd note in Albus' voice, Severus opened his eyes and tried to focus. It almost sounded as though Albus were jealous, but that was foolish. Severus, exhausted, lay back down and said,
"If someone could tell Mr. Weasley that his detention will be rescheduled at a later date, I'd appreciate it."
"Of course…summon me if you have a need of me, Severus." And with that, Dumbledore stalked out of the room and the quarters. Draco and Harry exchanged a strange look and Severus said, his voice showing how tired he was,
"It's fine, boys….I'm going to rest for a bit…when I wake up, Draco, I want you to fetch me the clear lung potion from my cabinet, all right?" Draco nodded and Severus turned to Harry, "and you, Harry, will make tea…with plenty of honey, but no brandy, all right?" Harry frowned, but nodded. As Severus drifted off to sleep, he murmured something that neither boy was meant to hear, "I'll need SOMETHING sweet to get the horrible taste of the potion out of my mouth…."