"Our children change us... whether they live or not."Lois McMaster Bujold
It happened so fast that Draco barely had time to blink.
Quirrel had bellowed, advancing on Harry. Only the bodiless Dark Lord was faster. He swooped up to Harry's small form, staring down with those reptilian eyes. Frozen for a moment in the gaze, Harry did not see Quirrel approaching until the man nearly tackled him to the ground.
Hermione screamed, a guttural sound as she warred against the curse that kept her immovable.
It seemed in slow motion that Harry screamed Draco's name, launching something into the air. Reaching out, he caught it easily. As soon as it reached his hand, a warm shock ran though his body. Suddenly, Hermione could move again, her once stone like hand loosening against his bruised skin as she slipped to kneel helplessly on her knees
With wide eyes, Draco looked down and felt something akin to a miraculous hope sweep through him
A red stone.
In his hand.
"Harry!" Hermione screamed, staring helplessly as Harry and Quirrel wrestled on the ground. Draco's eyes snapped up to see as the boy struggled underneath the weight of their once-bumbling professor.
The two could smell burning flesh. They could see blood. They listened to the agonized screams – ones that were never Harry's. The red eyes watched Harry carefully as the boy fought with both hands.
Empty hands that created bleeding ulcers on Quirrel's skin.
The Dark Lord turned swiftly and Draco found himself caught in that gaze again. The black mist seemed to smile grotesquely.
"So the Malfoy boy has it, Draco, is it? Your father was a good servant. I know what he did to you hoping to please me."
The mist began to move in circles around Draco's body and he felt the force as unseen magic blasted Hermione away, sending her sprawling across the floor. He heard a sharp crack as her arm hit the stone. He gagged.
Then he spoke to Draco like he was an infant. "Shame he's incompetent." Then the particles smiled sickeningly within a blackened face, leaning forward. "Give it to me, boy!"
Draco began to back up slowly. He couldn't dare cast a glance at Harry. So he ran over and stood in front of Hermione's pale form. "Come and get it, snake face!"
The particles moved swiftly through Draco's chest as if he were a ghost. He fell hard to his knees. Blood poured from his nose, ears, mouth. It pooled into his eyes and tears of red fell down his cheeks. With one last ditch of strength, he tossed the stone feebly, watching as it clanked down the stairs.
His vision swirled, blackened out.
The last thing he was aware of was Hermione screaming his name.
Harry watched as Draco fell.
Harry watched, knowing that Draco could be dead.
He caught Hermione's frightened gaze. She struggled to move, to get closer to their friend's prone body.
The Dark Lord's spirit moved sharply to look at her. She gasped quietly but stared into his eyes with determination, pushing herself to find the Gryffindor courage that the Sorting Hat had seen.
"You stay were you are, mudblood, or they die faster."
Hermione whimpered, emotionally and physically drained. Fear for Draco and Harry swirled inside her head. She found she had no fear for her own life.
Is that bravery, she wondered, or cowardice… so ready to give up your own life?
Suddenly, the same warmth moved through her skin as she looked past the monster to the standing figure in front of the Mirror of Erised. Looking she saw a red glistening rock in his hand. She looked up and saw Harry's deep green eyes, sparkling with resolve and a great strength she had never seen in him before.
"Give me the stone, boy!"
Hermione watched as the particles moved through Harry's body the same as it had Draco's. Harry's eyes rolled back, showing the whites of his eyes. The ground began to shake, pieces of stone ceiling falling on her and Draco's still body. A strange inhuman scream of pain cut through the chamber.
She could smell the nauseating smell of burning skin once more.
A few large stones fell from the ceiling, shielding Harry's body from view. She heard a hollow sound.
Harry wondered if he was dying.
He watched feebly as the evil one fled, squealing like a dying animal. He had done that and Quirrel lay not far from him twitching and oozing. He had done that too – with his own hands.
Harry wondered if he would die never knowing the answers.
And for once, he was not afraid. Not for himself at least. Death seemed like a release after all of this. Closing his eyes, he was ready for a release. He felt as if his very existence put everyone in danger, as if his father's love was not enough to make him feel worthy of it.
He was a killer after all.
He had killed his mother.
Of course, he did not know why the Dark Lord wanted him. Why he had his scar. Why he could attack Quirrel such as he did. How he survived this long.
And where had his courage come from?
Who was he –the dying, yet triumphant boy or a beaten little whelp afraid of everything?
"You are Severus Snape's son."
Looking up he saw a white mist rise above him. Beautiful and very unlike the creature he had fought. The mist shifted and an angel floated into his view. Her deep auburn curls swayed across her face. Her pale skin sparkled and he looked up into her eyes.
"Mum…" he whispered, one shaking arm reaching out but with no strength it flopped back one on the rough, cold floor.
She floated near him until they were face to face, he looking into her eyes. Her eyes were filled with tears. Her hands shook has she held them tightly together.
"Am I dying? I want to…"
She bit her lip and silvery tears fell down her translucent face.
"You be strong, Harry," she said quietly, shaking her head and smiling at him sadly. "Your daddy needs you…"
"I wish you were here… I want you here…" he murmured and his body took on a coughing fit. Blood spattered around his mouth and when he spoke, his tongue was coated with it.
Her hand reached out brushing his cheek. He felt something like a cool breeze caress his face. It was very unlike walking through one of the school ghosts. It was a pleasant feeling, but something in it made his eyes tear up and fall from the corners of his eyes. They rolled down his temples and into his filthy, blood matted hair.
She smiled at him through her tears. "Baby, I told you I'll never leave you… Go to sleep, Harry…"
Harry opened his mouth to say something more but she placed a finger over her lips. He smiled at her. He felt his mind become fuzzy and he thought of his father. He smile grew.
Soon he would be home. Even if he did not deserve it. He would be home.
He felt his eyes droop as she began to sing to him softly. It was a tinkling sound. Her voice was soft, beautiful. The melody was hauntingly familiar yet comforting. He smiled gently as he felt sleep carry him away.
Lily looked on, her song coming to a fading close. Her tears began to fall faster, dripping on the stone ground, creating silver glitter that mixed with her son's growing puddle of blood.
She slowly slipped back into her son. Harry's sleeping mouth whispered, her voice brushing softly past his tongue, "Severus... hurry…"
Narcissa walked as fast as her legs would carry her without running. Her expensive dragon-hide heels swinging from one arm as her bare feet padded softly.
Her soul was light. Her mood was happy. Her son, her godson, her only true family was alive. The weight she had carried since her prophesying dream of the event was lifted. She felt like she was floating.
But her heart told her that this would not be the last time those children were placed in danger.
Finally, she rounded into the Infirmary and nearly ran past her only witness – a sleeping third year suffering from some horrible boils. She walked past Madam Pomfrey's office and into the Quarantine rooms excluded away from the main part of the wing.
Stopping outside the doorway she pushed the large door open slightly and peered through.
Hermione had a book open on her lap, reading softly to the boys. Draco was propped up against pillows on Harry's bed, were he reclined. He was doodling on in a thin leather book as Draco stared at Hermione, watching her as she read. His eyes kept going to the sling her arm was in and then to Harry as he fought to stay conscious.
Severus suddenly appeared in her view, laying an arm on Hermione's shoulder. She looked at him and something in his face made her stop her reading, marking her finishing spot. She hopped up to take Draco's hand. Severus helped steady him as he set his feet down but he followed gently after Hermione into an adjoining room. She slowed her pace to match him and he even gave her a small smile aimed at her turned back.
Severus sat down beside Harry's bed, taking his son's limp hand in his. He stroked Harry's cheek gently and the boy's eyes fluttered halfway open. Harry smiled at his father and clenched his hand back. The boy aimed his head at Severus and was asleep again in mere seconds.
"I just found you…" she heard Severus say lowly to his son. "I just found you and I nearly lost you… I pray it never happens again… I need you too much…"
Narcissa bit her lip and gently eased the door up to close it. Once it clasped quietly she leaned against it. Her heart pounded and she struggled to remain standing. Images flashed through her unseeing eyes. Bits and pieces of sounds took over.
"…am Lord Voldemort…"
"Don't look at…"
"The oaf did it… monster…"
"…venom… much longer…"
"No… Harry, no!"
The trill of a bird stung her ears before her vision cleared and the sights and sounds of Hogwart's Infirmary came back to her. She swallowed against the bile that rose in her throat and stumbled away from the door.
When will it be over?
She looked back at the closed door.
Will it ever…?
She could see no end in her Sight.
Story will continue with "Creep" within the next few weeks. Be prepared!