Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. However, in nine hours I'm seeing the new HP movie (yay!).
Author's Note: Just a quick thank you to all of my amazing reviewers, and here is the third part of my Code Trilogy (applaud now). Remember, I couldn't do it without you all, so thanks again!
Draco stumbled when he and Bill stepped out of the Floo, something he hadn't done in ten years, but Bill was steadying him then and Draco was looking up at the startled faces of a few members of the Order sitting around a large table, obviously eating breakfast.
He couldn't quite make out their faces because he was being treated to the algorithmic equations of a death spiral right then and he found the hallucination rather fitting. Of course, seeing the spiral only threw him more off balance and Bill grabbed him quickly to keep him from face-planting into the wood floor, but in doing so, forgot about the burn on his back.
Draco tried to bite back the cry that left his lips when Bill grabbed him around the shoulders, but half of it escaped and then his vision was tunneling and black spots arose. He was aware of voices around him, but there were too many of them.
"Where's a spare room?"
"He's the son of a Death Eater!"
"Shut it, Alastor."
"What's the ferret doing here?"
"Is he going to be hanging out with us weasels?"
"Forge, not right now."
"Third floor, I think."
"There's one on second, next to mine."
"What happened to him?"
Draco felt himself being moved then, but he couldn't be sure if he was moving on his own accord and being guided, or simply carried. Right then, he couldn't care less.
Stairs were ascended, a hall traversed, and then a door creaking open. It was dark, blessedly dark and cool in here, and there was something soft underneath him. A bed. He was set facedown, which he was thankful for, and his arm closed around a pillow. He grabbed it for support as he seemed to follow the death spiral down.
The voice was familiar, calming. He pushed away the spiral and the equations, turning his head and managing to open his eyes. Bill was beside him, looking worried. Draco was glad he no longer seemed upset; he wasn't familiar with the feeling of guilt and he didn't like it.
"Are you going to be okay?"
Draco managed a short nod.
"Do you need anything?"
"A vanishing bucket."
"I can get you that."
"And lock the door."
"From what side?"
"The side where I can't get out if I want to," said Draco.
Bill nodded and left the room and Draco buried his head in the pillow, trying to block out the migraine that felt as if his skull was shrinking and squeezing his brain.
He mentally swore at himself for slipping up like that. He hadn't just gotten high; he had made the drug. He had thought that being a genius meant that he was smart enough not to do something like that, that he was strong enough to resist it. He had screwed up; he was screwed up.
He clenched his jaw and tried to smother his thoughts in the pillow and then the door opened again.
"Do you need anything else?" asked Bill.
"No," said Draco.
There was the sound of something being placed beside the bed and then the footsteps walked back to the door and it swung shut. Draco squeezed his eyes shut, trying to fight past the self-loathing that seemed to rise up from the pit of his stomach.
He suddenly realized that Bill hadn't locked the door and so he opened his eyes, turning to the entryway. Bill was leaning against the wall, eyes on him, worried. His expression made Draco feel worse and he groaned, turning back to the pillow.
"Don't forget to lock the door," he said.
"I won't need to. I'm staying with you."
Draco turned back again as Bill pulled over the armchair by the wall to Draco's bed. He sat and gave Draco a small smile.
Draco felt inexplicably tired. "Bill," he started, but Bill didn't let him finish.
"Draco, why wouldn't I be here? I've told you, you're like a brother to me, and I'm going to be right here until you're over this."
"What are you going to tell your parents?" Draco asked, trying to find a reason to make Bill leave. It wasn't that he didn't want the help, or that he didn't need it, it was just…he wasn't exactly proud of himself right then, and he didn't want Bill to witness just how badly he had messed up.
"Nothing," said Bill. "They already know quite a bit, and after all, you did just save Ron's life. Speaking of which, why didn't you tell me?"
Draco shrugged. What was he supposed to have said? 'Oh, hey Bill. I just saved your brother's life.'
There was a sudden spike of fire in his head and he flinched, grabbing the pillow with all of his might as he waited for the pain to diminish.
"You okay, Draco?"
"Fine," he managed, once the headache was at a manageable level. "Look, Bill-,"
"Draco," Bill interrupted again, "I get that right now you might not want me to sit with you, but I'm not going to have you face this down alone."
"It's not…," Draco trailed off, not being able to say the words.
Merlin, he was an idiot. What was wrong with him?
The back of his throat was tightening and his eyes stung, but no tears came to the surface. He wondered what it would be like for the sting to actually be soothed away by tears, but he would never know. He buried his face again, trying to keep his breath from hitching, but Bill must have heard it anyway.
"Draco," he asked, voice thick with concern. "Draco, are you going to be okay?"
"I'm fine," Draco ground out.
"You say that too much."
Draco choked on a burst of laughter, raising his hand to his head and letting his fingers entwine in his hair, tugging at the strands.
"Merlin, I screwed up," he muttered as he fought back a bout of dizziness.
There was a small silence and then Bill spoke, his voice concerned.
"You don't think this is your fault, do you?"
Draco didn't answer.
"Draco, this is in no way your fault," said Bill, his tone urgent and convincing.
"Because actually taking the time to make the sodding potion counts as not my bloody fault."
"You wouldn't have even thought to make the potion if your mother hadn't poisoned you when you were kid," said Bill, sounding outraged that he would even think that taking the drugs was his mistake.
"I knew it was a bad idea," said Draco. "I was telling myself not to make it, and not to take it, but I did. How is that not my fault?"
"You have just been rescued from Voldemort where you had a knife shoved through your arm, you decided to join the Order, Sam and Laney left to the States and on top of it all you got disowned and the entire top of your back is burned. Anyone might be driven to things they wouldn't usually do."
"But I'm not 'anyone'," Draco spat. "I'm a bloody genius. I should know better."
He felt the bed dip slightly as Bill sat on the edge of it and then Bill's hand was on his arm.
"Draco, listen to me. Just because you are a genius does not mean that you are invulnerable or that you are unsusceptible to emotion or suffering. You are still a teenager above all and thinking that you should be able to pass through trials untouched is just going to get you burnt. You made a mistake; it's alright. Everyone slips up every now and then. You can't expect perfectionism."
"I just-," Draco cut off because his throat was closing again, but he forced the feeling back. "I don't like…," but he stopped again because he couldn't quite phrase what he wanted to say.
"You don't like having to rely on other people when you do make that mistake," said Bill. "Draco, remember what I was saying about how we need other people? This is precisely for that reason. You got that?"
Draco nodded but then sat up. "I'm going to be sick."
He slid off the bed, knelt over the bucket, and threw up. It couldn't really be called throwing up though because he hadn't had anything to eat in almost an entire day and so all that came up was stomach acid and bile.
His body refused to stop retching until it was certain that everything in his stomach had been expelled and then he leaned his shoulder against the bed, keeping his back from coming into contact with anything harder than his shirt.
"Do you need anything?" asked Bill.
Draco shook his head, feeling the throbbing he remembered so clearly from when he was thirteen settle into his temples.
"Help me back up," he said, holding up a hand. Bill grasped it and helped him back on the bed where Draco collapsed face first. His legs began to ache first, and then it spread up over the rest of his body from there.
He grit his teeth as the ache sank into his bones and every light touch became painful, even lying on the bed made him think that he was going to have bruises from the contact. He closed his eyes, trying to force himself into sleep, but it wouldn't come. Time passed too slowly. Bill tried to start up a conversation a few times, but he stopped when he realized Draco wasn't exactly up to answering him.
He left for a few minutes, and when he came back he had a book which he read out loud. It was just Hogwarts: A History, but his voice was soothing, and Draco finally felt himself drift off. The shivers took hold sometime in the evening.
It started with just a trembling in his hands, but then spread. His head throbbed and it hurt to breathe. His skin broke out in cold sweat as his body trembled.
That was Bill, sounding concerned, almost frightened.
"It's fine," Draco managed.
"Can I get you anything?" asked Bill.
Draco shook his head and turned on his side, trying to fight back the urge to cry. He couldn't cry, so what was the point? He grabbed onto one of the pillows, squeezing it tight as he pushed back the desire to groan or scream or something.
Bill reached out and grabbed his hand, holding it reassuringly, and he didn't let go all night, not even when the shivers increased and he was sure he was clinging to Bill's hand so tightly he must be cutting of the circulation, maybe even bursting a few blood vessels. He would have to check Bill's hand for bruises when he was better.
In the early hours of morning the nausea and stomach cramps started. There was nothing to throw up this time, not even stomach acid, but that didn't stop Draco's body from trying and he spent nearly an hour dry heaving and retching, finally curling up on his side as his stomach burned. This time the trembling was because he felt cold, but he had also broken out into a sweat. His mind was consumed by one thought: he needed more.
He didn't know how much time had passed before he stirred, the craving growing too strong. He pushed himself up, looking over and seeing Bill watching him. That alone was enough to make him clench his jaw and lie back down, shame flushing his cheeks and forcing back the gnawing at the back of his mind. Twenty minutes later and he shifted again, the need outweighing embarrassment. He pushed himself up.
That was Bill.
Draco halted his movements. He really didn't want this; he didn't. He swung his legs over the bed.
"Draco, what are you doing?"
Draco clenched his teeth, pulling in harsh, hissing breaths. He ran an aggravated hand through his hair. He didn't want this, but at the same time, he needed it.
"Bill." He turned to the older man. "I…I really don't want more."
Bill's gaze was even, reassuring. "I know."
"Then why do I want it?"
"It's just the addiction talking."
"I know, I just-," he cut off, grabbing at his hair and tugging, trying to relieve some of the pressure on his head. This wasn't working. He couldn't breathe; he couldn't think. He just needed some, a little bit, just to take the edge off. Somewhere his brain was telling him that a little bit wouldn't help at all; it would just hook him further. He had only taken one dose and if he just rode this out he would be fine.
It wasn't fair. He hadn't been able to savor that last bit properly. If he took another dose, knowing that it was the last one, it would be easier, wouldn't it?
It wasn't until Bill's hands rested on his shoulders that he realized he had gotten off the bed and was taking a step towards the door.
"Where are you going?" asked Bill, but he must already know the answer because his expression was sympathetic, pained.
"I just, just a little bit, Bill. I swear, just a little. I can't think, all the thoughts are muddled in my head, and they can't get out. A tiny bit, that's it, I swear."
"Draco, you know that's not a good idea."
"I know, I know, but Bill, I need it."
"You don't need it."
"Yes, yes, I do. It hurts; my head is killing me, just a little."
He groaned in frustration. "Why are you doing this?"
"I'm not; it's the drug."
"And that's why I…oh Merlin, I'm begging now, aren't I?" The moment of clarity hurt. He blindly reached out, grabbing onto Bill's shoulder with his right hand. His left was sore. "Bill, merde, I-I really don't want it."
"Shit." The craving returned with a vengeance, causing his vision to swim. Bill held onto him as he swayed.
"You okay, Draco?"
"I would be, if I just had a little more," said Draco, pushing away from Bill. "I need it."
"No you don't. You just said you didn't."
"You don't understand."
"Explain it then."
"How am I supposed to do that? I bet you never had an addiction, or never even tried smoking. I bet you don't even Apparate until an hour after you drink. I need some."
And he took a step forward, only to be blocked by Bill again. He tried brushing past him, but Bill was quicker than he was in his state.
"Damn it, Bill!" And then Draco was sending a fist towards Bill's face. Bill easily caught his wrist, and then grabbed onto his other hand as well, holding firmly, tightly, forcing him backwards. Draco tried twisting away, anger coloring his vision and he was full out struggling. He knew, if he had his wand, he would have been spitting out dark spells, not caring that he was fighting his first true friend. He just needed his drugs. At this moment, it didn't matter who he had to fight through to get to them, as long as he could have just one hit more, just one.
He vaguely heard that Bill was apologizing, but he couldn't think why. He knew in the next moment when he was kicked off his feet and he fell heavily onto the bed. On his back.
His vision exploded with bursts of pain and the breath left his lungs in a pained cry. He tried to arch away from the source of pain, but he was being held down, his back being pressed into the covers. The pain pushed away the voice of the drug and he found himself staring up at Bill who was looking just as pained as he was.
Draco choked back another cry, clenching his eyes shut, trying to focus on the fire burning up his back and not the one that screamed for the illegal potion. He sucked in a breath and slowly let it out, opening his eyes when he was calm again.
"I'm so sorry," said Bill.
"Not your fault," Draco managed.
"If I let you up are you going to try to take a swing at me again?"
Draco shook his head, and then Bill helped him turn onto his side very slowly. Draco lay there for a few moments while the fire died away, and then the cravings passed into stomach cramps. He curled up on his side. Bill pulled the covers down and gently draped them over him, careful not to let them fall over his back. Draco felt his eyes slowly slipping shut and he finally fell asleep.
Bill made sure that Draco was fully asleep before slipping out of the room to find something to eat. It was early morning, but there were a few people up, mainly his mother and father, Sirius, and Kingsley who liked to stop over for a pot of coffee and a chat before heading off to the Ministry. Dumbledore was there as well.
"How is he?" asked Dumbledore. He hadn't been at the Order for their arrival, but he must have heard the story.
"Sleeping," said Bill, sitting heavily in a chair and accepting the cup of coffee his mother poured for him.
"And he's –?"
Bill knew, from their looks, that they had probably already guessed. "Going through withdrawal," he said, before taking a sip of coffee.
"Don't blame him," muttered Sirius.
"He isn't buying from anyone I should know about, is he?" asked Kingsley.
Bill shook his head. "He made it."
The adults exchanged concerned looks.
"He's not…a regular user, is he?" asked Arthur.
"No," said Bill. "He's not."
"But he took illegal drugs."
"He's not an addict."
"But if he's making it himself…," said Molly, obviously wary of having a druggie in the house.
"It's the first time he's taken any deliberately," said Bill, and then realized what he had just let slip. He must be really tired.
"Deliberately?" asked Dumbledore, frowning in concern.
Bill sighed, knowing that it would be best to just tell them to dispel any thoughts they had, even though he doubted Draco would like that. Well, Draco didn't always know what was best for himself. If he ever wanted to live in this house peaceably, some things would have to be explained. He looked up at the Order.
"His mother wanted him out of the way because she was having a party one summer," said Bill. "She's a regular user, and so she slipped him some of her drugs and kept him sedated for over a week." He took another sip of his coffee. "Draco just got disowned and had his signum marked through and he didn't know how to deal."
"His mother drugged him?" asked Molly, looking horrified at that thought.
"With what?" asked Kingsley.
"Angel Flight," said Bill.
"And that's what he…?"
"There was no report of the incident."
"There wouldn't be," said Dumbledore. "Not with such a powerful family. Healers can be found who will keep their mouth shut for cases of abuse with the right amount of money."
"There wasn't a Healer. Lucius brought Draco through withdrawal on his own."
The adults all looked surprised at that. Bill wondered if he had looked the same when Draco had revealed that about his father.
"Just out of curiosity, William," said Dumbledore, "would this be the summer before Draco's third year?"
"That does explain a lot about his behavior then," said Dumbledore, no doubt putting two and two together, that Draco's outbursts had begun as drug cravings.
"Yeah," Bill agreed.
"How much longer is he going to be…indisposed?" asked Molly.
"I think he's through the worst of it," said Bill. "I'm going to Floo home and say hello to Fleur, let her know where I am."
He drank the rest of his coffee and then stood. "I'll be back in a few."
Fleur was up when Bill arrived and she was just starting a quick breakfast. Bill wanted to take over for her, but she took one look at his haggard appearance and sat him at the table, refusing to let him do so much as set the table.
"I'm not the one that's having a baby," he tried to protest, but she shushed him with a kiss.
"Not for another three weeks," she said.
"Shouldn't you be on bed rest or something?"
She sniffed. "I am part Veela," she said, somewhat haughtily. "We don't do bed rest. Now, tell me exactly what is going on with Draco."
And so Bill related the story while he ate breakfast and Fleur refused to let him back in the house until Draco was fully recovered, effectively exiling him to the Headquarters. Sometimes Bill wondered how he deserved her.
He went straight back to Draco after that, relieved to see that the boy still hadn't woken up. He was lying on his stomach, pillows pushed up above his head, his face turned towards the door. Even when sleeping he looked pained and Bill silently cursed Narcissa in his head.
Draco started stirring around noon, waking Bill up, who had drifted off to sleep a bit himself.
"Hey," said Bill. "How you feeling?"
Draco groaned, hand reaching up to rub at his eyes as he blinked about the room. He tried pushing himself up, but a grimace crossed his face and he let his arms drop.
"Shit," he said.
"Hey, Draco, you alright?"
The grey eyes slid over to him and then cleared a little. "Bill."
"Surprised?" asked Bill, smiling lightly at the obvious statement.
"Dunno," said Draco, his words slurring which made Bill frown in concern. "Didn't think you'd still be here."
He shifted a bit, pulling down a pillow to rest his head on, but even that movement caused him to wince.
"What hurts?" asked Bill.
"Don't you dare start that again, or I swear I'll borrow a bit of Veritaserum from Snape."
Draco smirked, or rather attempted to, but his lips barely twitched. In fact, he looked exhausted. There were deep circles under his eyes, his face was incredibly pale, and his hair was hopelessly tussled.
"What hurts?" asked Bill.
"My head," said Draco. "And my back."
"Can I get you any pain reliever?"
"Not for another twelve hours," said Draco.
"What about some salve for your back?"
"That would work."
Bill nodded. "I'll be right back."
The first aid kit was in the bathroom, and Bill returned in just a few seconds. The only light in the room was from the small lamp on the dresser and so Bill flipped on the bedside lamp as well to have better light to see by. He didn't realize just how bad Draco's head hurt.
Draco swore at the light, lapsing back to French, and squeezing his eyes shut, but it was already too late. He leaned over the side of the bed, retching again even as Bill realized the problem and switched off the light. He helped Draco lie back down once the dry heaving had stopped.
"Sorry about that," he said, feeling rather guilty at his blunder.
"It's fine," said Draco, his voice somewhat raw.
"So, I'm thinking your head is a little more than hurting right now?" he asked.
"Yeah," Draco admitted.
"And your back is a little more than sore."
Draco gave a small nod. Bill decided the lecture could wait for another time.
"Let's get your shirt off, yeah?"
He helped Draco sit up so he could ease the shirt off the boy, wincing when he could see Draco clenching his jaw as the motion jarred both his head and back. By the time he was lying down again, he had broken out into a sweat.
Bill gently pulled off the gauze he had put on the other day, wincing when he saw the burns. While the salve had helped, the wounds were sill unpleasant to look at, harsh against the pale skin.
He opened the first aid kit and found the vial of burn salve he needed. He poured some onto a gauze pad and then gently dabbed at the burns. Draco flinched.
"Sorry," said Bill, already apply the salve as softly as he could.
"It's fine," said Draco.
Bill snorted and flicked the kid, very lightly, on the arm. He could see Draco's lips twitch ever-so-slightly upwards. He returned to spreading the ointment, only stopping when he was sure that every inch of burn was covered.
"Is this even ethical?" he asked, taping gauze strips over the marks again.
"It's one of the older traditions in wizarding law," said Draco.
"So because you get disowned some guy gets to take a hot poker to your back?"
Draco flinched again. "It wasn't some guy."
"What do you mean?"
Draco looked as if he was trying to push some unpleasant memory away from him. "It was Lucius," he finally said, voice no more than a whisper.
Bill stared at him and then swore, loudly. He was about to say something, but then Draco cut him off.
"Bill. I have a headache."
Bill stopped himself, knowing that Draco was only admitting to pain so that Bill wouldn't be able to say anything, because that would just make the situation that much more real. Bill remembered what Draco had said about not wanting to tell him because then he would have to feel something, and he just wanted to forget it.
"We're going to talk about this, later," he told Draco.
Draco didn't answer. Bill checked Draco's bandages once more before seeing something that made him pause. Draco's skin was pale and completely smooth without a blemish on it, if the signum and burns on his shoulders were overlooked, but there was another mark. This one was further down his back, and was nothing more than a fine, horizontal line of silvery scar tissue.
"What's this?" asked Bill, brushing the line with his finger. It was just barely raised from the rest of his skin.
He suddenly had a flash back of running from the Death Eaters, Draco fighting a man with a knife. He remembered sitting in the abandoned house with the wards pulled up and seeing blood on Draco's shirt.
"This is when you rescued me," he said.
"Yeah," said Draco.
"I didn't know it was that bad," said Bill.
"It wasn't," said Draco.
"You have a scar."
"I scar pretty easily."
"You should have gotten this looked at."
"Because that wouldn't have been suspicious."
He had a point. Bill packed the first aid kit back up and set it by the bed.
"Thank you," he said.
"You already said that."
"I'm saying it again."
Draco was silent for a moment, before meeting his eyes. "Thank you, for staying."
"Not a problem. Do you think you can sleep anymore?"
"Probably not," said Draco.
"When will you be better?"
"Tomorrow, maybe. Just the headache now."
Bill nodded. "The headache that you can't take any potion for but makes you throw up at any increase in light."
"You should probably try to sleep."
"Yeah," said Draco again. Already his eyes were closing, and it was apparent he was exhausted, but he didn't seem to be sleeping because every so often he would open his eyes and shift positions, trying to find one comfortable enough. Bill doubted that with both the burns on his back and going through withdrawal, he would ever find a position where he wasn't uncomfortable.
After watching him for a few hours, he wondered if Draco just needed a distraction so he pulled out the book and started reading out loud. It appeared to help because although Draco didn't sleep, he was able to lie quietly.
There was a soft knock on the door some time after dinner and Bill opened it up to see Ginny at the door with a tray of food.
"Hi," she said quietly. "Mum wanted to know if you wanted something to eat."
Bill glanced back at Draco. "I don't know," he said.
"Sirius said something about smells making people going through withdrawal nauseas, so the food is charmed to be odorless. There's some soup too, if Draco feels like eating."
"Alright," said Bill. He was hungry. He took the tray but Ginny didn't move from the doorway.
"Can I see him?" she asked.
Bill looked back to see Draco laying on his stomach, but his face was turned towards Bill and his eyes were open, regarding him curiously.
"Alright," he said, "just for a little bit."
He let Ginny in and then shut the door, watching as Ginny knelt by the bed.
"Hey," she said softly.
Draco's brows furrowed. "What are you doing?"
"Visiting you," Ginny shrugged. "How are you feeling?"
"I thought you said that asking such questions got old."
"That was when the indisposed person was in the infirmary; you've just been holed up in here for a day and a half. But you do look like shit again."
"You should never become a Healer. Your bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired."
"It's a good thing I'm not going into Healing then; I'm going into-,"
"Law, I know."
"I never told you that."
"You visited Granger an awful lot."
"And you eavesdropped?"
"I was right there. It was rather hard not to hear, with how you were moaning on about how people still thought you liked Potter."
"I was not moaning."
Ginny stuck out her tongue at him. Draco raised an eyebrow, but his lips twitched as well.
"So," said Ginny, "how are you feeling?"
"Asking now isn't going to make me recant. You would still make a terrible Healer."
"And you're misdirecting my question."
Draco rolled his eyes. "I'm fine."
"Funny, you don't look it."
"We've been over this and you've already given your opinion."
"Maybe I just want the truth."
"So saying 'I feel like crap' is going to make you stop asking questions?"
"If it's the truth."
"And if the truth really is 'I'm fine'?"
"It isn't. No one who actually feels alright looks like you do right now."
"Fine. I have a headache."
"A partial truth," said Ginny.
"But truth none-the-less."
Ginny looked unconvinced "Did you want some soup? I brought some up for you. It's chicken noodle with carrots and peas and-,"
She cut off because Draco paled and then leaned over the side of the bed, over the bucket, but this time he managed to suppress the heaving.
"So," said Ginny, "a headache and nausea."
Draco lay back on the bed, still a bit pale. He glared at Ginny who merely shrugged.
"Well, on that note, feel better soon Draco." She patted his hand and then got up. "Bye, Bill."
Bill waved and then she was out the door, closing it softly behind her. Bill turned to Draco with raised eyebrows.
"You two seem to get along," he said, wondering if the boy problem Ginny had was in anyway connected to Draco, but as soon as the thought came into his head he dismissed it. Ginny hadn't exactly been flirting, she had just nearly made him throw up, and while Draco had seemed to be less abrasive around her, that could just be because she was a girl and because Bill had been in the room.
Draco gave him a look, one that clearly said 'I thought I was the one high here. What have you been smoking?'
Draco then caught sight of the plate Bill was holding and he groaned, turning his face away and pulling a pillow over his head. Bill laughed, quietly though.
So, I'm sticking with Tuesday updates most likely. See you next week, and please leave a review on your way out.