A/N: Here you all are, chapter seven :) Sorry about the long wait. Hope you all enjoy it. Please do review. Any and all criticism welcome.
LadyFreda: Wasn't aware I had left a cliffhanger. This one is intentional though :D
Disclaimer: I reckon I keep forgetting to put these in. The only things that are mine are the plot and the original characters. The rest belong to J.K Rowling and Co. Wish they were mine though :(
Kat: Hope you're happy with your role lol It was the best I could do at the moment.
Thanks to all who reviewed! Stuffed dragons for everyone! :)
Harry sat down between Ron and Hermione on one of the black couches facing the fire place. Dumbledore and Severus had seated themselves on the couch to the left of the fireplace with Pansy, Blaise and Theo sitting on the couch to the right. Neville stood leaning against the fireplace watching them all with a cool level gaze.
"So Professors, you have some information? What went wrong? How long will he be like this?" Harry questioned them all in one breath.
"Harry, please calm down. I'll answer each of your questions on due course. Now, would anybody care for some tea?" The Headmaster smiled questioningly at all of them.
"Headmaster please, there is no need for tea! Let us relay our information, I have papers that need to be graded!" Severus exclaimed, clearly quite uncomfortable trying to hold a civil conversation with a bunch of Gryffindors. Oh, the horror. He didn't physically show his discomfort of course, he was a cunning Slytherin thank you very much.
The Headmaster smiled indulgently at him, "Of course my boy, would you care to inform the students what you have learnt about Mr. Malfoy's condition and how he came to have said condition?"
Severus scowled at the Headmaster, "Yes I would." He replied.
"It seems Draco's current situation was indeed planned. I have not found evidence of who the culprit was but I am positive it was deliberate. The Scallywag that was to be added to the potion was instead swapped with a lethal plant found only in the remote desert area of the Sahara, it is inaccessible through magical means, meaning apparition, portkeys and flying. It has to be made on horseback, camelback or foot, which confirms that someone truly went through some trouble to obtain the rather expensive plant. It is named Sarasohso and near on identical to Scallywag. I am positive it was sabotage as I currently hold no stock of Sarasohso so it could not have been accidently mixed up with the Scallywag." Severus stated all of this in a monotone voice though it was obvious that he was angry, anyone that looked into his eyes could see the glint of anger. Severus Snape truly was a dangerous man.
Hermione dared to ask the question everyone was thinking, being the naturally inquisitive one in the group, "Sir, is there anyway to determine who did this to Ma-Draco?" She asked. There was no way she would spend her time referring to the adorable little boy as Malfoy. This was definitely not the Malfoy they all knew, well thought they knew, and hated, this was a scared little boy that had done nothing to any of them. Besides, it was apparent that Harry had decided to become protector of the little angel, and Draco seemed to have taken quite fiercely to Harry.
Severus sneered at the Know-it-all. "No, not from the actual potion. However due to rareness of Sarasohso and the difficulty one would face when trying to retrieve it, I'm almost certain that there is a paper trail, if you will. For one to acquire this plant, you would have to go through certain channels, all of which require paperwork or a magical signature to complete the journey."
"But Professor," Hermione interjected, "what if the person just bought the plant from someone that had already retrieved it?"
Severus glared at girl, a glare that sent shivers down her spine. Hermione, realizing her mistake, apologised. "Sorry Sir." She mumbled avoiding his piercing gaze.
"As I was about to say, before I was so rudely cut off, that because the plant is so dangerous there are heavy tabs kept on each specimen that is obtained. When a specimen passes hand there is a whole deal of paper work."
"I have put a request to Minster Scrimgeour for all documents in reference to any circulating Sarasohso. Of course regarding the nature of this request the documentation should arrive shortly." Professor Dumbledore interjected.
Severus nodded his head along. "However, the request has only been instigated a mere ten minutes ago. I suspect they will arrive, by the earliest, tomorrow evening or perhaps in two days time. There is a lot of documentation to be sent."
"I propose that you all stay in these rooms until the documents do arrive, after you have all been questioned under vertiserum of course." At the students angry glances he continued to explain.
"Could you pick any resident of this castle that would go through so much trouble to cause Mr. Malfoy so much distress? No? Neither can we at this point in time, so to compensate for that, you must all be tried under vertiserum to determine whether or not you were the one to harm Draco."
The students looked ready to argue, defending themselves from his accusation.
The Gryffindors would surely never do anything so dangerous to anybody, even their rival.
The Slytherins would never harm their friend, their leader.
Just as they were about to speak, Harry and Neville spoke at the same time,
"Okay." They exchanged glances and Neville nodded for Harry to go first. The other students sat shocked looking from one to the other. Pansy, Blaise and Theo wore cool masks but you could see the evident shock in their slightly rounded eyes. Ron and Hermione had their mouths slightly parted and their shock, painted clearly across their expressive faces was evident for everyone to see.
"We will be tested under vertiserum. It would be stupid for seven of us to remain here without being positive that the criminal is not one of us. I understand that you wouldn't do this to Draco but can you really blame Professor Snape for wanting to be sure? On one side, there's the Gryffindors that Draco has fought with all throughout school. On the other there's the Slytherins that laughed when he was afraid and hurt. Some Slytherins aren't known for their loyalty, not among other houses anyways. I would much rather be safe and sure than risk Draco's safety. Wouldn't you all?" Harry asked them easily, making eye contact with each of them.
"Harry's right and each of you know it. Don't let your pride come in the way of supporting your friends. This is the only way that we can make absolutely certain that Draco will be safe with us for the next few days." Neville added, still leaning nonchalantly against the fireplace, though you could see how serious he was with the gaze he was levering them all with.
All protest flew out the window as they listened to reason.
They all nodded their heads respectively and motioned to the Potions Master to continue.
Severus nodded once at Harry and, rather reluctantly, at Neville as well.
He pulled a vial containing clear liquid out of his inner robes and uncapped it,
he proceeded to place one drop of the liquid onto each of the student's tongues.
He asked each student the same range of questions,
"Did you place any hazardous ingredients into Draco Malfoy's cauldron?"
"Where you aware of any plans made to interfere with Draco Malfoy's cauldron?"
And such the like.
After each of them had answered negatively, Severus was quite content to allow his Godson to remain in the company of these students for however long.
"Now, you will all remain in these rooms for the next two days, or until the documents arrive from the Ministry." Severus informed them.
"This is a very rare occurrence." Headmaster Dumbledore explained, "We have to be very careful with young mister Malfoy. It will take Severus several days to determine the antidote for this, we shall say, event."
"If I find an antidote. There are no documented cases of what Mr. Malfoy has endured.
There is only hearsay and folklore. Stories told by people during social gatherings, nothing viable. However, I do believe I can neutralize the components of the potion. I need to do far more research. So, if you will excuse me."
Severus stated as he moved to stand.
"I will return tomorrow morning to check on my Godson." He levelled his heavy gaze at Harry.
Harry met it dead on. There seemed to be a silent conversation going on between them.
Severus putting trust in the Boy Who Lived to protect his Godson and Harry acknowledging what Severus was doing, thanking him for it.
Severus nodded once and headed towards the portrait. He paused briefly next to the playpen to find Draco playing with his new stuffed dragon and another stuffed toy, a lion.
Not wanting to disturb the boy, especially since Draco was so unsure around him, he continued out through the portrait with his robes bellowing behind him.
Ron was positive that the old bat had a spell on them to make them flow like that but wasn't stupid enough to voice his thoughts. Snape had only just left and everyone know bat's have excellent hearing.
"Excellent. I shall be returning myself tomorrow with dear Severus. If you need anything at all my door is always open, or rather my floo. There is a house elf assigned to this room. Kitty! " He called and a house elf appeared, bowing low to the ground.
"Yes Headmaster?" Kitty enquired, she was dressed neatly in a pink patterned tea towel.
"This room and its occupants will be your main priority until I say otherwise. Is that clear Kitty?" He asked kindly.
"Of course Headmaster." Kitty squeaked. She happened to look over to the playpen and caught sight of Draco.
"Oh, Kitty does love children!" She exclaimed then apparated over next to it.
The audible 'pop' noise had Draco looking up quickly.
The Slytherins knew that Draco had always been a bit apprehensive around house elfs but never really knew why, it seems they were about to find out.
He gripped the dragon quite fiercely as silent tears started to fall down his cheeks.
"H-harry" He whispered, afraid to take his eyes of off the elf.
"P-please" He also whispered. The elf moved towards him, all the while exclaiming how much she loved being around small children and playing games with them. Draco started to shuffle backwards until his back hit the wall of the playpen.
"Harry, p-please" He said a bit louder, the last word catching on a sob.
Harry shot off the couch and ran over to Draco. Draco suddenly found himself being hoisted into the air and felt strong arms wrap around him. He struggled until he heard Harry's voice telling him that it was him.
"Draco, Draco please calm down, it's me, it's Harry. I'm sorry Draco, I'm so sorry. Shush, it's okay. You're safe, nothing's going to harm you, I promise. Please Draco, calm down, shush."
Draco stopped struggling suddenly and turned around in Harry's arms.
Once he saw that, yes in fact it was Harry, he flung his arms around his neck and continued to sob, only louder this time.
"Please Harry, please don't let him get me, please, please, please, please. I'll be good, I'll be real good, no more, please no more." Draco sobbed, his pleading words rushed yet still ringing quite clearly in the silent room. Everyone was shocked. They were also terrified to imagine what could get Draco so worked up like that.
"Hush Draco, hush, nothing is going to hurt you, absolutely nothing. I promise you Draco, I'll keep you safe, nothing will harm you, I promise." Harry kept murmuring reassurances into Draco's ear whilst rubbing the boy's back in soothing circles.
"If you all need anything else, don't hesitate to call." Dumbledore spoke lowly to the other six students, wanting to leave them with some privacy. He would be of no use to them anyways.
Dumbledore moved over to the portrait hole, giving Harry and Draco a wide berth, the last thing he wanted to do was upset the boy any further.
Harry didn't even notice him leaving as he was too preoccupied with Draco.
He had calmed down some, the occasional hiccup being the remnants of his crying.
Harry carried him over to the sofa and sat down on the one the teachers had just evacuated.
Hermione walked over to the stunned house elf.
"Kitty bad, Kitty done something to upset baby." Kitty murmured, just as she was about to start banging her head against the wall in punishment Hermione interjected.
"No, stop right there Kitty, you're not bad at all. Draco is just frightened. Please go back to your quarters and don't come until one of us call for you. Thank you Kitty." Hermione spoke gently with a soft smile, still glancing worried looks across at Draco, not sitting comfortably in Harry's lap whilst the others gave them some space.
Kitty nodded her tennis ball eyes still glassy with unshed tears and apparated out.
Hermione joined the others and just watch as Draco feel into an exhausted slumber, still wrapped snugly in Harry's arms. Harry was gazing down at the little boy and glanced up.
His eyes met Pansy's horrified stare and he spoke.
"What the Hell happened?" He was, of course, referring to Draco's original childhood.
Pansy shook her head silently, as did the other two members of the Slytherin house. It appeared they were also in the dark. There was no point asking Ron, Hermione and Neville.
What had happened to Draco Malfoy that he was terrified of a simple house elf?
Harry had the feeling that he was not going to like the answer to that question.
A/N: Please review :D