Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, and the licensed copyright holders including Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Warner Bros., Inc. No money has been exchanged and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: I've been away awhile and got out of the habit of writing. I haven't abandoned my other fics, I just needed a break so here's a new one. Hope you'll enjoy. Review and let me know what you think. Thanks! And my deep appreciation to my beta WindandSummer!
Road to Recovery
"…he's finally seen reason and you want him and Malfoy to get back together? What the hell are you thinking Mione?" Ron shouted at his wife, "Ending it with Malfoy was the best decision Harry's made in a long time!"
"Oh, really," smirked the illustrious Salmaen Library and Centre for Magical Research's youngest chief archivist. "Well then why does Harry look like he's going to have a breakdown any minute now? He hasn't been happy at all since Draco left, Ron. I haven't seen him like this since just before the end of the war." She frowned, "Actually, I don't think I've ever seen him like this. Draco was good for him!" She hollered back.
Ron crossed his arms obstinately, "He's just going through a rough patch Mione. Shacklebolt's got us working ridiculous hours chasing after the NCRCM. Those wannabe Death Eaters are slippery and cunning as hell. Harry's just tired and frustrated like the rest of us. Plus, he's the lead Auror on this case, so it's more work for him. There's nothing really wrong with him Mione, I ought to know, I see him every day. He's just a bit run down because he's so invested. You'll see, once we catch those tossers Harry'll take a little holiday and be right as rain. It's just like the Ashcombe case," he continued seeing his wife wasn't convinced. "You remember how he got until we made the arrest. He needs a bit of time, not that ponce Malfoy.
Hermione frowned but nodded, which seemed to placate her irate husband. She decided against mentioning that it'd been Draco who'd seen Harry through the trauma of being captured and held by Ashcombe's accomplices for nearly a week, when Ron turned his attention back to Quidditch Weekly.
The conversation left her uneasy though, and she didn't stop thinking about it over the next few weeks. It was obvious to her, despite her husband's protestations, that her dearest friend was in trouble. She hated that there seemed nothing she could do about it but continue to watch Harry's slow decline, since each time she mentioned anything, Ron complained she was nagging and Harry brushed off her inquiries. It didn't help that their other friends easily dismissed her concerns and what she saw as clear warning signs. Harry drank more; he'd gone from being the sort who'd nurse a single glass of wine through the course of one of their weekly dinners, to tossing back firewhiskey as though it were pumpkin juice. Ron and Seamus encouraged him, saying it was about time he learned to let loose. It didn't bother them that Harry would often Floo home, being too drunk to Apparate, or have to bunk on the couch in their cosy living room, too pissed to move at all. They shrugged off his increasing short-temper saying the pressure of the NCRCM investigations were getting to him. Just as they dismissed his increasing isolation from his friends outside of the young Weasley's weekly dinners, saying it was just a sign of his drive and determination.
Two months later, Hermione had had enough. The leaders of the New Cultural Reform and Reclamation Movement, or the NCRCM, had finally been captured in a raid Harry'd led, and were to be tried for acts of treason and terrorism. Harry's team of Aurors, unofficially called the Gryffon Unit, were given a week's leave once the reports and paperwork had been completed. Ron had convinced her to take the week as well so they could take a brief holiday in Bath. He was spending the day before their trip visiting his mother, and Hermione made plans for a much overdue visit of her own, though Ron believed she'd be at work finishing an urgent project.
She felt guilty, lying to he husband, but someone needed to step in before Harry was too far gone for an intervention. And…she missed her friend.
She kissed Ron before he Flooed away, briefcase in hand and dressed in the smart business robes she usually wore for work. When the green flames faded to normal she pinched a bit of Floo powder and set off for Godric's Hollow.
Hermione stepped through the grate brushing off the soot, but immediate pinched her nose. The reek was overwhelming! Moulding takeaway containers, empty bottles of Muggle beer and firewhiskey littered the floor. Harry had the curtains drawn over the windows, making the filthy, grimy room seem even more dark and imposing. Harry himself, lay sprawled on the couch, arm draped limply over its side. Hermione's breath caught in her throat as she had a proper look at him. How could Ron and the other Aurors not notice this, not consider Harry's state as anything but very, dangerously wrong? Even from where she stood through the dusty staleness of the air, and odour of rotting food, she could smell the foetid sweat on Harry's near emaciated body; see the bruise-like smudges under his eyes, the jaundiced pallor of his skin.
"Oh Harry," she sighed. "What have you done to yourself?" She approached the wasted figure on the couch and grimaced as she nearly slipped in a puddle of sick. "Merlin, Harry!" Her worry momentarily gave way to disgust. "How could you let things get so far out of hand?" she scolded the unconscious man as she vanished the vomit. Gingerly, she leaned down and brushed sticky damp locks away from his face and realized he was running a high fever. "You need a healer, Harry. You're so very ill," she shook her head softly. "Thank Merlin, I came to check on you. Who knows what could've happened with you here like this by yourself."
She picked her way back through the rubbish to the fireplace. "St. Mungo's," she said firmly into the green flames, calling on the only medi-wizard she trusted to make a house call with the utmost discretion, "Wellness and Family Care Clinic, Healer Malfoy's office."
Draco pinched the bridge of his nose under his glasses, knowing it wouldn't stave off the coming migraine, but it felt good to try. The words of report he was reading on the results of young Melissa Gregory's latest tests were jumbling together in an incomprehensible mess. He should take a break, but the young witch was running out of time, the mutated Muggle virus she'd contracted was decimating her magical defences and immune system. Draco was treating her with a radical experimental procedure and these results needed to be assessed before the next treatment he'd scheduled for the end of the week. His assistant's face in the fireplace was, for once, not a welcome sight.
"I'm sorry to disturb you Healer Malfoy," the witch began timidly.
"What is it Muriel?" Draco snapped. "Didn't I tell you I wasn't to be disturbed this afternoon? I'm busy with the Gregory case and--"
"I'm so sorry, sir, but she says it's an emergency."
Draco sighed, dropping his head into his hands. Muriel was a gem of an assistant, incredibly organized, and quite formidable. Whoever it was had rattled her, which said something about the direness of the situation. Draco closed his eyes and took a moment to collect himself. "I'm sorry Muriel; I didn't mean to snap at you."
The older woman smiled, "I understand, Healer Malfoy. We're all quite anxious for Melissa, but this is an emergency, shall I put her through?"
Draco waved his hand tiredly, "Go ahead, but while I'm in conference, have the Randolph files brought up from Records. I'm seeing him tomorrow afternoon."
"Of course, Healer Malfoy." Muriel's head disappeared and few seconds later Draco startled as a wild-eyed Hermione Weasley appeared in his grate.
"Oh, oh Draco, you're there, good. Thank Merlin. I didn't think I'd get past that dragon you call your assistant. She kept trying to put me off and I couldn't just have another healer come. It's bad, Draco will you come? I thought he was just sleeping, but I can't wake him up, even with an Ennervate, and--" the young witch rambled out.
Draco blinked and held up his hands, "Wait, slow down, Mrs. Weasley. What's going on? Who can't you wake? And why are you calling me? Why not just bring him to St. Mungo's"
Teary-eyed the witch shook her head, "I can't. Oh, I couldn't do that. Can you imagine what the press would say? They'd have a field day and you know how he hates that. Can you come?"
His stomach sunk as he realized the identity of his prospective patient. He sighed, "It's Harry isn't it?"
Hermione looked confused as though it was quite obvious who'd she'd been nattering on about. "Of course it's Harry, who else would it be?" She fixed him with a concerned look, "Are you feeling alright, Draco?"
He smirked. "Where are you Mrs. Weasley? I can be there in a few minutes?"
"Godric's Hollow, I think the wards are still keyed to you."
Draco nodded, pushing his inner turmoil aside in favour of his professional duties. He shot off a few questions as he gathered things around his office. "How long has he been out? What are his physical symptoms?"
"He's breathing, shallowly, he looks a right mess. I think he's had too much to drink, but I'm worried because I can't wake him. I called first because he's running a high fever, but when I couldn't wake him I started to panic."
Draco hummed and closed his satchel, carefully tucking the flap over the Gregory file and several potions. "Alright," he squared his shoulders, "I'm coming through, step back Mrs. Weasley."
Draco stepped through and with a spell quickly whisked away the soot from a fireplace that obviously hadn't been cleaned in long time. As the grime disappeared he took a look around, shocked as Hermione had been by the state of the large cottage he'd once shared with his boyfriend.
"Morgana's tits," he swore, "What the hell's been happening here?"
"Oh, Draco, you're here!" Hermione rose from the couch, gently placing Harry's hand by his side."
Uncomfortable, Draco merely nodded and strode to Harry's side. His normally pleasant, interactive and knowledgeable bedside manner was stifled by his uneasiness around Hermione and Harry. So he singularly focused on his work, rather than trying to gather more information from his patient's distraught friend or comfort her. He reeled off diagnostic spells, his face becoming paler and more drawn with each one. Finally he stood back, and levitated Harry to the master bedroom. Hermione scurried in before him to throw open the curtains and shake the accumulated dust off the coverlet. Coughing and sneezing she managed to get the grimy window open so the breeze could carry some of the dust away.
Draco gently lowered Harry to the bed shaking his head. "This will never do. Dietty!" He called loudly and a house-elf popped into the filthy room.
"Yes, Master Draco, what can Dietty be doing for you?"
Draco fought the urge to cast a challenging look at Hermione, knowing her views on house-elfs, instead commanding the elf to clean the room, then house. "Make sure each room is aired thoroughly Dietty, it's absolutely filthy in here."
With a few snaps, the master bedroom was cleaner, enough so Draco could begin his work in earnest without fear of a coughing or sneezing fit. Hermione perched herself in an overstuffed chair near the window watching as Draco made complicated movements with his wand, shooting spells that lit Harry's body with purple, then gold, then green, then blue, then orange, and finally red light.
It was over an hour since he'd arrived and sweat beaded Draco's brow, but Harry, at least seemed to be breathing easier, and while the hue of his skin was still off, it wasn't the sickly jaundice of before.
"He's stable for now," he said tiredly, passing Hermione to sit in an armchair in front of the room's small fireplace.
"Can you wake him?"
Draco shook his head, "He's out of the coma and in a healing sleep. It's best to let him be fore a while." He pocketed his glasses and knuckled back the loose locks that had escaped his ponytail.
"Well…do you know why did he get sick so suddenly?"
Draco's face was set in hard lines. "There's nothing sudden about it Mrs. Weasley," he said in his coldest voice. "Why haven't his friends sought help for him before now?"
Hermione wrung her hands and looked as though she wanted to cry. "Please, Draco, it's Hermione. We were friends remember? And, well Harry didn't seem too bad off before now. No one really thought there was anything wrong. He's been a bit standoffish lately, and drinking more, but it hasn't been enough to make a difference to his work. Ron hasn't said anything about him having any troubles there. I only came by today because I thought the drinking was a little excessive and I thought it would help if he could talk about what's been bothering him."
Draco frowned, "I don't know how he's been fooling you all, Mrs.-Hermione, but Harry is very sick. It seems his infamous luck was with him again today though, it's a good thing you dropped by, and excellent that you called me right away. If he'd gone untreated…" Draco pinched his eyes shut, "a few more hours," he said hoarsely, "we might not have got him back."
Hermione gasped in horror, "Are-are you saying Harry might've died?"
Draco nodded solemnly, "That's exactly what I'm saying M-Hermione." He stood and went to the small fireplace across from the bed. Taking out a pinch of Floo powder he called to his assistant. "Muriel, things here are dire," he ignored Hermione's sharp intake of breath, "I won't be returning to the clinic today. Healer Norwich is on call; have her cover the rest of the day's appointments. I also need Nurse Abrahms to collect a full detox kit with extra doses of liver rejuvenation potion, and the hepatitis specific betarevidine thiamine solution. I'll be ready to pick it up in half hour."
When the firecall ended Muriel's face reflected only her professional demeanour, but she knew the healers of the clinic well and could tell there was great pain in the young healer's eyes. Almost as deep as when…she closed her eyes, hoping fervently the mystery patient wasn't the young healer's former boyfriend. Though Healer Malfoy had held up admirably when their relationship ended she'd seen just how deeply he'd been hurt by Harry Potter's rejection. Though he tried to hide it, she saw the echoes of that pain everyday, but it had been months since it was as acute as she'd just seen.
Hermione wiped her tears away as Draco continued casting spells over Harry; she was horrified that he best friend might've died. "What's wrong with him?" she whispered.
"Alcohol poisoning," Draco said curtly. "He's been drinking heavily, Muggle and wizarding alcohol together. It's a bad combination as wizarding liquor speeds the deleterious effects of Muggle alcohol. A few weeks of combination hard drinking can have the effect of several months of Muggle alcohol consumption. Months can take years' toll on a wizard's body. That's what's happened to Harry. His recent rapid consumption, I'd say last night or this morning, led to poisoning and coma, but more damaging is that he'd been at it for a while progressively damaging his liver. He'll have to undergo detoxification, and an organ rejuvenation regime to correct the damage and reverse the hepatitis. He's also developed oesophageal varices; those are varicose veins in the oesophagus that could cause him to bleed out if they rupture."
Hermione paled, "Oh my god," she whispered. She raised her puffy red eyes to the young healer's assessing gaze "Can-can all the damage be reversed?"
Draco nodded, "Yes. Harry will heal M-Hermione. It will take some time, but he must never drink heavily again."
Beside herself, Hermione flung her arms around the healer's slender neck. "Oh Draco, thank you! Thank you so much. You've saved his life!"
He disengaged her arms gently, but firmly. "Don't thank me yet, Mrs-Hermione. Harry has a long recovery ahead of him. You'll need to be with him near constantly for the first few days. After that--" He stopped as her face fell. "What is it?"
Hermione's eyes teared, "I-I can't. Oh, Draco, I can't stay with him!"
The healer frowned, "I'm sure Weasley will understand--"
She shook her head, "None of them even want to admit that Harry has a problem. I can't see Seamus or Dean caring for him. Neville's in the middle of a term at Hogwarts, and Ron and I are going on holiday tomorrow. Remus is guest lecturer at Scuola di Magia in Palermo and Tonks is on sabbatical to be with him. I don't want to have to hire a private nurse, b-but I think that's what we'll have to do. There's no one else!"
Draco closed his eyes and for a moment considered that he was going mad. It would work though. Melissa Gregory's treatment wasn't scheduled for another few days, he could have one of the clinic's nurses stay with Harry while he was away. Calling himself seven kinds of fool, he laid his hand on Hermione's shoulder both ending her raving distress and gaining her attention. "I'll do it," he said. "There's no need to hire a nurse. Harry wouldn't want a complete stranger here caring for him."
Brown eyes grew wide, "Oh Draco, you couldn't! I-I mean, it would just be so awkward. For both you," she rushed out. "After everything that happened do you really think--"
Draco sighed, "I'm a professional healer. Harry is my patient. My…feelings," he grimaced with a moue of distaste, "have little bearing on his treatment and recovery Mrs-Hermione. And after all," he added bitterly. "It was Harry who decided I wasn't worth the effort. I doubt he'll care one way or the other. I'm just another nobody to him now."
Hermione's eyes were warm with regret and sympathy, "Oh, Draco. This has been so hard on you hasn't it," she reached up and hugged him gently. "I'm so sorry I haven't been there for you."
He sniffed, then shrugged, and little awkwardly, with her arms still around him. "I understood, Hermione. Harry's your best friend, and your husband never really cared for me. Wh-when a couple splits up, their friends have to choose between them. It's shite, but that's how it is. I can't say I didn't miss you though."
She squeezed him tightly and issued his cheek, "It did feel like we had to choose, but I missed you too Draco. I missed our talks, and teas. I missed going into Muggle London for the matinee with you. I never said anything because I didn't want to rock the boat, but I'm not the only ex-Gryffindor who misses you. Our little dinners just aren't the same without the lot of you. It's just the Gryffindor bunch these days, which frankly is a bit of a bore."
Draco's watery chuckle, made her smile and she hugged him close again. "No matter what happens with Harry, I don't want to lose you too Draco. When Ron and I get back, let's have lunch, alright? Firecall me at the office."
He drew a deep breath and smiled faintly. "Alright, Bookworm. I'll call you." He kissed the corner of her smile at the nickname he'd bestowed during the war. "Right now though, I have an ailing patient to care for." He turned and looked at the still figure on the bed.
"I can stay, Draco. At least through the afternoon."
He shook his head, "Better you go home and let Harry's friends know what's going on. They won't like it, so you'll need to smooth things over. He can't have visitors for three days, and after that they'll have to schedule visitation through Muriel."
"Three days?" she asked incredulously.
"He almost died today," Draco reminded her gently. "And he's not yet on the mend. Three days at least. For now it's only me, Muriel and Nurse Abrahms who'll have access to Harry. We'll keep the press and curious away."
Hermione nodded. "You're the healer, you know best. I'll go and let everyone know. Ron and I will be back just before we head to Bath so I can give you the specifics on how to reach us. Plus, you know how Ron is; he won't go if he hasn't seen for himself that Harry's is good hands."
Draco smirked," Well whatever he thinks of me personally, I know he's confident in my professional skills, so hopefully that'll go well."
"I think it will. So you go on to your office and get your supplies. I'll sit with Harry until you return."
He nodded, pinched a bit of Floo powder and was gone in a whoosh of green flames.