A/N: Prompt by InsaneOrange. I had intended for this to be a one-shot, but got too lazy. So here's the first half. Or first third depending on where my mood takes me.
The pediatric ward was the busiest it had ever been. Mediwizards were stretched thin over the different departments as broken arms, concussion, colds, fevers, and ear infections were admitted.
"God, I hate summer," Harry muttered, throwing the charts down on the counter and rubbing his tired eyes.
"And it's just begun," Susan said cheerfully, handing him more files and pointing to the examination rooms.
"No…" he grumbled, looking pleadingly at the nurse.
"No doing. We're short staffed!"
"No means no."
Harry let out a resigned sigh. "No chocolates for you," he retorted, his sharp green eyes shooting daggers at Susan before trudging to the rooms. He heard her laugh behind him as he opened the door.
"And how are we today?" he asked with a grin. From the looks of it, the mother was having a harder time than the daughter.
"Her cheeks are swollen and she has a fever. I've tried to reduce it, but it just won't go away," she explained rapidly, shooting worried glances from Harry to her child.
"Let's take a look," he said calmly, indicating at the chair for her to sit on. She nodded thankfully as she fidgeted with her hands and perched on the edge of the seat.
"Emily, is it?" he asked the small blonde before him.
"Yes," she said in a bashful voice. She was already seated on the examining bench. Her face did seem swollen, even underneath four-year-old cheeks. He cast quick charms to assess her temperature and pulse.
"Feeling warm?" he asked as he prodded the swelling lightly. She shrugged in response. "Is your head hurting?" She shrugged again. Harry let out a helpless smile. He turned to the mother. "It's just the mumps," he said.
"Mumps?" she exclaimed. "But she has the vaccine."
"Doesn't work all the time. Nothing to worry about, it goes away on its own," he said. He cast Pain Relief and Cooling charms on Emily. "There, she shouldn't be in any more pain. The fever with pass, just keep adding Cooling charms every hour or so. Feed her fluids, nothing too acidic. There might be discomfort." The mother was looking more and more relieved as Harry talked. "It should go away in a week," he concluded.
"Oh, good," she replied.
"Ice creams work."
Emily's eyes brightened up with her grin. "Ice cream?" she asked Harry with hopeful eyes.
Harry winked at her. "Up to your mum," he said.
"Ice cream?" Emily asked, now turning to her mother.
The woman laughed helplessly and said, "Now look what you've done."
"I know them too well," Harry replied as he marked down Emily's status on her chart. "Get well soon, Emily," he said before he left the room.
This was Harry's second year at the hospital. After Hogwarts, it had taken him another six years to get his medical license. The two years after medical school had been spent in residency. After eight grueling years of learning, he was finally able to work at St. Mungo's in the pediatric division. He was still one of the younglings, but being Harry Potter had perks. He was treated with respect since most people bypassed his young age of twenty-seven. He wasn't made to slave over trivial work. His skills as a Healer was recognized and appreciated. He enjoyed working in the hospital because of the satisfaction. It was a rewarding job, being a pediatric Mediwizard. Children weren't guarded or false. Harry liked the innocence and joy in them. It was a change from the outside world, where everyone treated him as a delicate idol. He liked to surround himself in imagination, laughs, and blunt comments. It was one of the reasons why he hadn't specialized. He wanted to stay a general physician so that he could experience a full work environment. Even though he complained to no end when it came to his occasional back-to-back shifts that lasted fourteen hours, the hospital staff knew how important this job was to Harry.
The pediatric ward was his second home, quite literally at times. The doctor's lounge had a very inviting sofa in it. But in a figurative sense, Harry felt at ease in the space. It was a bright five story building with multicolored paintings hung along the corridors and large windows shining in light in every room. Soft music could often be heard if it was quiet enough. Emergency rooms were located in the first storey, along with the reception and colorful daycare centre. The cafeteria had scrumptious meals that the staff and patients had no qualms about eating. The moving stairs wound around large pillars. Pre-natal care took up the second floor. This was the quiet area, where the young ones slept off their fatigue of being born. Harry liked to sit in the waiting rooms when he felt overwhelmed by the workload. It was soothing to be near so many new lives. It reminded Harry that life moved on past the horrendous day he was having. The third and fourth floors were mixed with short and long-term care patients. It was madness. Anyone who ventured into the floors was engulfed in insanity. No one could get out unscathed. Children ran rampant through the halls and parents often ran right on after them. There was never a moment's rest during the day in those two levels. Each room was colored in pastels. The walls were enchanted such that the child's favorite animal would be drawn on it anytime he or she walked in. So each room had a personality of its own. Most of the time, the children refused to leave their rooms, which was exactly what the doctors wanted. However, with the long-term care patients, it was harder to get them to stay put in the magical ward. The fifth storey was the hospice, another quiet area with lots of books and empty space for arts and crafts. The atmosphere was a stark difference from the fourth floor. The hospice was calmer and melancholy. This was one floor Harry rarely visited. It reminded him of death. He couldn't handle any more death in his life.
"Healer Potter to Emergency four, Healer Potter to Emergency four."
Harry frowned at Susan in confusion. She shrugged and shook her head to indicate that she didn't know why he was called down out of clinic. He hurriedly put down the remaining files on the table before jogging towards the emergency. Being in the loudest part of the hospital never failed to give him a headache. He pushed the double doors open and was instantly hit with the frantic atmosphere. Loud shrieks of irritable pain and rapid chatter of insistent parents were everywhere. Most of the seats were occupied by crying children and pale parents. Emergency Healers rushed from patient to patient, assessing and recording.
"Potter, over here," Penelope shouted out, grabbing Harry's attention. He spotted her wheeling in a casualty by the entrance. He rushed over to her, other nurses following right on after him. The boy on the gurney was bleeding profusely from a blow to the head and lashes on the torso.
"What happened?" Harry asked in horror.
"Ministry. They requested you."
"Ministry? What?" he exclaimed. Penelope raised her hands and shrugged to show her ignorance in this matter. "But he's a child!" Harry said as they whisked the boy towards Emergency room four. He had his wand out before they were in the room. He tried to close the wounds on the boy's chest, but none of his spells stuck. It was only then that he noticed the lack of clothes on the boy. He was wrapped in a cloak. Harry pulled the cloak down to eye the extent of damage. The blood was marring everything, and even as he wiped away the excess, more bubbled up in its place.
"Oh god," he murmured, his memories flashing back. He swallowed the bile that was rising up. "Vulnera Sanentur," he chanted softly. The blood staunched almost immediately. "Vulnera Sanentur," he repeated. The skin started to morph and repair itself. "Vulnera Sanentur," he said one last time. The bruising disappeared almost instantly. With a quick swish of his wand, Harry lessened the trauma on the brain of the child. He gripped the side of the bed and closed his eyes to stave off the nausea.
"What was that?" Penelope asked breathlessly.
Harry shook his head quickly. "I need a few slabs of dittany and two liters of type –" He flicked his wand at the boy " – O negative blood, stat. Wake Collins up and get him a Pepper-Up. He needs to be sharp for the procedure. Prep for surgery. Put him on IV and see if you can get him to take 20 mg of codeine. I want antibiotics pumped into him right away, nothing stronger than cefuroxime. I want full brain scans and status on his core. And for heaven's sakes, find out who he is!"
Penelope whipped Harry away from the bedside as the rest of the nurses started administering potion after serum. "What the hell, Harry? Snap out of it!" she muttered vehemently.
"I – I don't – he's… he's just a child, Penny," Harry whispered hoarsely, his expression pained.
"What was that spell?"
"It's something I – why would anyone do that?" he asked, glancing at the pale boy.
"Harry, get a grip!" she said, placing her hands on Harry's cheeks and forcing him to look at her. "What was that spell?" she asked deliberately.
"Dark Magic. Someone used Sectumsempra on him."
She let go of him, an expression of horror on her face. Harry stepped away quickly. "I – I have to – I'll be right back," he said, running out of the busy Emergency room. He slid down the hall and threw open the bathroom door. He knelt above the toilet bowl, willing himself not to throw up. His breath came in shallow spurts. It was all too real. His fatigue was catching up to him as he gagged. He tried not to think of the blood. But he kept seeing the tiled floors flowing with red. He kept hearing the horrified screams of pain. He let out a noise of anger as he punched the ground with his fist. The pain in his knuckles helped clear his brain in an instant. He opened his teary eyes and took in the cold air. "Pull yourself together," he muttered through gritted teeth as his sporadic thoughts left him. He took a moment to make sure he wasn't lightheaded before getting up. He doused his pallid face in cold water, hoping to wake himself up. He was back in the room within the next minute, shouting over the din as the staff worked at saving the boy's life.
"We know nothing on him?" Harry asked, his brows knit with puzzlement.
"No," Milo said, checking the charts once again.
"Did you check with the Ministry?"
"Yes. They haven't a clue what you're talking about."
"Then who wrote this?" This being the note that had been clenched in the boy's hand when the paramedics found him. It read, Harry Potter's assistance required. It was messy and covered in blood, most probably from the child's hand. The watermark was a wand transposed onto an M – Ministry of Magic. It was apparent to Harry why he was needed. Not many knew of the Sectumsempra and almost no one knew the counter-curse. Harry wouldn't be surprised if he was the only doctor in the building to know it.
"No clue," Milo said.
"No one's been reported missing?"
"I'll check, but at first glance, no."
"Harry," Penelope's shaking voice called out. He turned to find her standing outside the room four. "You have to see this," she said, her voice betraying terror.
Harry didn't need prompting twice as he ran to the room. The windows were pulled down and the room was bathed in soft darkness. The boy was in the middle of the large bed, looking fragile and much too pale. Penelope quickly shone a light above him. She pulled the boy's left arm up to the light. Harry looked perplexed as he tried to see what she was showing. "Um…" he murmured. "What?"
"This," she whispered, tracing her finger over the fair arm. As she traced the outline, Harry's heart nearly stopped.
"What?" he gasped, stepping away from the bed. Penelope did the same, dropping the boy's arm.
"I don't know," she answered. "How is it – he's – who is he?"
And just like that, it all clicked into place. Harry rushed back to the bed and pulled the boy's hospital gown open. Marks riddled the chest. Harry swept his eyes over the torso, trying to figure out what the pattern of cuts had been. Once he successfully found the lashes he had healed, he found that those weren't the first scars the boy had acquired. Older ones riddled his chest and stomach. "Oh god," Harry murmured, his eyes falling towards the boy's face. Pale, soft, feathered with platinum blonde hair. The almost-white scars. Faint green Dark Mark. "Malfoy…"
Harry pounded on Minister Shacklebolt's door furiously, ignoring the half-hearted tugs the secretary was using to pull him away. After a minute, the large doors opened to reveal an even larger man. Harry wasn't fazed. "We need to talk. Now," he said with an expression of anger that would've quelled Voldemort. Kingsley looked over Harry's shoulder and nodded at his secretary. She nodded in helplessness as she staggered back to her seat. Harry strode into the room and slammed the door shut. He threw mountainous amounts of spells at it with a flick of his wand, his fiery eyes never leaving the Minister.
"Draco Malfoy is alive?" he asked wrathfully.
Kingsley blinked. "What?" he asked in a calm tone that equaled Harry's force.
"Malfoy is in my hospital at this very moment. Why is he declared dead?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Don't you dare play glib with me," Harry roared. "There is a sick child in my ward and I want to know everything. Now!"
"Child?" Now Kingsley looked truly bewildered. "I don't understand."
"Is Draco Malfoy alive or dead?"
The Minister eyed Harry with a guarded expression. "Dead."
Harry exhaled forcefully as he closed his eyes. "I know when you lie. Why are you saying he's dead if he's alive?"
Kingsley sighed as he rubbed his aching temple. "I can't answer any –"
Harry slammed his hands on the table. "You will listen to me. Draco Malfoy is in my hospital. He was hit with Sectumsempra. He almost bled to death. He has major head trauma. He may even be hemorrhaging inside his brain. If he turns septic, he'll be dead in two days. And in his hand was a note written in Ministry parchment asking specifically for me. He is no more than six years old. What the hell are you doing lying to me?"
"Answer me, damn it!"
"He's an Unmentionable."
Harry pulled back considerably at this. "A what?"
"Unmentionable. Secret division."
"He – he works for you?"
Kingsley merely nodded.
"But why is he declared dead?"
"Protocol. No ties to the outside world."
Harry's head spun at the information. "What was he doing last night?"
Kingsley shook his head. "I'm sorry, Harry. It's classified."
"But he – I need to – he could die…" Harry said in a daze.
"I'll see what I can do," the Minister said. "But you said that he was – that he's six? What do you mean?"
Harry shook his head in confusion. "I mean just that. He's maybe five or six years old. That's why he's at the Children's."
"This doesn't make any sense."
"Which is why I need to know what he was doing. Maybe a spell or a potion. I need to know if it's fatal. I need to reverse it."
"I will owl you as soon as I get word, Harry. I promise."
Harry felt the sudden burst of emotion draining him. He hadn't slept in twenty hours and counting. "Right, good. I – I'm sorry…" he said, blushing. "I got a little carried away."
"It's fine. Understandable. Wouldn't want anyone else to look after Draco."
Harry nodded with his eyes downturned. This was all too much for this sleep-addled brain to handle. "Make sure to owl the response," he reiterated as he lifted the charms off the door and opened it. "He's stable, in case you were wondering."
After surgery, Draco was moved to the Intensive Care Unit. His room was small and plain, stark white for sterility. His head was heavily bandaged. Healer Collins was able to drain out almost all the blood from between Draco's meninges and skull. The bruise on the frontal lobe was expected to heal with minimal brain damage. The antibiotics and pain medication was administered at regular intervals. He could breathe on his own now, which was a relief unto itself.
Penelope had been told not to reveal Draco's identity to anyone. She complied after seeing Harry's slightly desperate expression. Throughout his shifts for the next two days, he found himself peeking into Draco's room to see if the boy was doing any better. Each time, there was little to no change in his vitals.
It was on the third day that Draco finally awoke.
Harry inexplicably found himself sitting in the corner of Draco's room, reading a book by the window. Soft daylight floated in, bathing the room in a healthy glow. He kept telling himself that the only reason he was in the room was because he was Draco's doctor. There was nothing else to it. He had been in the plush chair for over two hours when the boy reached up with both arms and grasped thin air. He sat up with a gasp, his grey eyes unblinking as they stared straight ahead. Harry scrambled out of his seat. Draco was having a night terror. Horror quickly clouded the small eyes and he started screaming. With a lurch Harry was in bed, holding the terrified boy. He wouldn't stop shouting. Harry felt the frail body trembling and the screams splitting through the walls. It was a full-blown nightmare. Draco convulsed slightly as the terror drew all the air out of him. No more than fifteen seconds later, he fell limp and the loud yells dropped away. Harry's heart thundered as he laid the sleeping boy back down on the bed. Draco was sweating and heaving for breath as his body tried to calm down. Harry cast a Cooling and Drying charm on his patient. Perhaps it was the cold that triggered it, but Draco mumbled in his sleep just as Harry finished casting the spells. He rolled over onto his side, his back to Harry, and curled up into himself. Harry watched the boy fall back into his dreams just as easily as he had awakened from them. This was Draco Malfoy.
A month after Voldemort's death, Harry had received the news about Draco. The papers had reported it as suicide – a clean break from everything; his past, present and future. The heavily publicized suicide note read that he blamed no one and now he owed no one. Harry's beleaguered mind had prompted him to shatter his coffee mug against the wall at the news. He had cursed Draco for being a coward and taking the easy way out. He had envied Draco's detachment. He had even found himself wishing that he could do the same.
But here he was. Draco Malfoy. Alive. It wasn't detachment at all.
"You son of a bitch," Harry muttered with a small smile as he watched Draco's back rise and fall with each soft breath. "Scared me half to death…"
Harry was idly pacing the length of the room when Draco woke up for the second time.
Harry stumbled to a halt and whipped his head at the bed. Draco's lips were moving.
"Malfoy?" he asked, feeling rather foolish.
Harry quickly conjured a glass of water and a straw. He helped Draco sit up and guided the straw into his mouth. The boy sipped thirstily, not stopping until he had finished almost all of the water. With a groan, he released the straw and fell back onto the pillows.
"How are you feeling?"
Draco struggled to get his eyes open. It took two hands rubbing his eyes to get the lids to flutter up. "Huh?" he asked.
"How are you feeling?" Harry asked again.
"I want Mum."
Harry sighed despondently. He had known that this was a possibility. But it still shocked him to no end. Draco was both physically and mentally five years old. "She's not here right now."
"When will she come back?"
Narcissa had been dead for two years. "Soon."
"My head hurts."
Harry cast quick charms to help relieve the pain. "Now?"
"It's fine now… I'm going back to sleep."
Harry stopped the boy from rolling over. "No, no. You've slept enough."
"No, I haven't," he said, trying to slip away from Harry's grasp.
"Yes, you have."
"I haven't. I'm sleepy," Draco insisted.
"Aren't you hungry?" Harry asked quickly before he had a tantrum on his hands.
Draco opened his mouth to retort when his stomach grumbled on cue. He snapped his mouth shut with a click. "No," he said sullenly.
Harry rolled his eyes as he flicked his wand. A tray of potatoes and greens appeared on Draco's lap. "Eat up."
"I don't want it," he muttered with a slight pout.
"You haven't eaten anything for four days!"
"I feel sick."
Harry wasn't sure if Draco was telling the truth or just being stubborn. "Sick how?"
Draco was lying. "Fine, if you don't want to eat, I guess you won't get any dessert."
The boy tried to look like he didn't care. "What dessert?" he asked, glaring at his hands vehemently.
The pout grew larger at this. "Tart?" he mumbled to himself, although Harry caught it. "I want tart."
"Not until you finish this," Harry said, waving his hand at the food. Draco sighed languidly, evidently making a scene for Harry to enjoy. He grabbed the fork with vengeance and started stabbing the poor asparagus with it. Harry watched with growing amusement at the display of rebellion. "You need to eat it, not just murder it," he said.
Draco finally looked at Harry with narrowed eyes. "You eat it, then," he said, shoving the fork into Harry's face.
"Then I guess I'll just have to eat your dessert too."
"I don't like you."
"I don't like you either."
Draco's lips twitched upwards at Harry's statement. He stuck his tongue out at his doctor. A surprised laugh left Harry. Draco Malfoy just stuck his tongue out at Harry Potter. What has the world come to?
"What's your name?" Draco asked, taking a small bite from his mangled vegetables.
"Where am I?"
"Oh no," Draco said dismally. "What happened?" he asked, evidently feeling empathy for himself.
"Just an accident," Harry said vaguely.
"Am I alright?"
"Sort of," he replied, half-truthfully.
"When can I go home?"
"We'll see, okay?"
They sat in amicable silence as Draco's appetite returned in full force. He was gobbling up the warm dish without restraint. For Harry it was bizarre to see Draco eat without the usual Malfoy poise.
"What do you remember last?" Harry asked, hoping to find some clue as to Draco's condition.
The boy seemed to be thinking this question over for a few minutes as he munched on his carrots. "Um… It was night. And – that's all."
"Do you remember getting hurt?"
Draco frowned as he looked away into the distance. "No. No, I don't think so. Was I hurt bad?"
Harry indicated to Draco's head. It seemed he had only just noticed. He dropped the fork with a clatter as his hands flew up to his head. The bandage still wound around his head and he ran his fingers along the expanse of it. "Whoa!" he breathed. "I almost died?" he asked gleefully.
"That you did," Harry said, more to himself than to the excited boy.
"Awesome! Mum's probably so angry!"
Harry didn't answer. He contented in watching Draco attack his food again, shoveling it into his mouth with fervor. The moment the last of the vegetable disappeared from the plate into Draco's mouth, a slice of treacle tart appeared on the plate. Draco was quite enthusiastic about it as well. Just as he brought his fork up to take the last bite, he looked at Harry. Slight color flooded his cheeks. "Um… Do you want some?" he asked lamely.
Harry couldn't help laughing at this. He shook his head between chuckles. "No. It's all yours," he said.
Draco nodded as he took the last blissful bite of tart and put down his fork in satisfaction. "Now what?" he asked, sipping on his juice.
Harry shrugged. "You aren't allowed out of bed for the next week," he informed.
Draco's face fell drastically. "Why?"
"Don't want to jolt your brain, do you?"
"No, I don't want to."
"So you have to stay put."
"What should I do?"
"Do you want to… read?"
"Play with me!"
Harry smiled. "Really?"
"Yes," Draco said decisively. "Let's play… um… Story Lines."
Harry eyed the boy warily, unsure. "How do you play it?" he asked, sitting on the opposite end of the bed.
"I make a line, then you make a line. Story Lines. It's easy. I'll start." He sat up importantly, his back leaning against the pillows and his fingers entwining into each other as he thought. "Once upon a time, there was a dragon. Now your turn."
"He… lived in an enchanted forest?" Harry said tentatively.
Draco nodded in approval. "He was sad because he had no friends."
"Hmm… So he sat in his cave all day long."
"Then a dragon hunter came."
"The dragon hunter walked all around the forest looking for the dragon."
"The dragon was scared, so he flew into the sky."
Harry frowned slightly. "Then what happened?"
"Then the hunter looked up and saw the dragon."
Harry saw the far away look on Draco's face. "And…"
"The hunter shot lots of arrows at the dragon. So he fell down."
"I don't like this story," the boy murmured.
"No, I don't like it much either," Harry responded. "Maybe it's not done yet."
"The dragon roared so loud that all the animals in the jungle heard him."
Draco blinked at Harry dubiously, but didn't deign to say anything.
"The elephants, lions, snakes, and birds helped the dragon by scaring the hunter away."
The boy nodded slowly.
"They helped the dragon get better."
"And then the dragon was happy because he made friends?" Draco asked.
"Oh… I like this story," the blond said with a slow smile.
"Is that what happened to you?" Harry asked cautiously. Draco looked befuddled. "Did someone hurt you?"
"Now I'm all better, see?" he said with a grin.
"But who hurt you?"
Draco shook his head and said, "No one."
Harry sighed. He had triggered something in Draco's mind, but it was gone in an instant. "Okay."
"What do you think?" Harry asked as he indulged in some hot chocolate in the lounge. Penelope was scanning the lab reports with a slight frown on her face. "Anything out of the ordinary? Or am I just blind?"
She shook her head slightly. "No, nothing wrong at all. Low hemoglobin and slight renal failure were expected. Um… Biopsy is clean. Hopefully no infection. Don't see too many antibodies. Normal."
"Even his telomeres are longer. I mean, what does this? It's complete de-aging with almost no side effects!" Harry said.
"What do you mean, almost?"
"This morning, it seemed like he remembered something. But… That's impossible if the scans are right. He shouldn't have any memory of anything."
"What did he do?"
Harry sighed, taking a long pull of his drink. "You know what? Never mind. I am quite obviously going paranoid. It's nothing. He's a child with an imagination. Now we just have to figure out how to get him to grow up…"
"No word from the Minister?"
"I was thinking about how it could be a potion that reacted with him. Or a spell that wasn't placed right. Still need to do some research on it. Ugh, I hate research," Harry grumbled.
"I just thought of something," Penelope said in alarm. "Do you think he is capable of aging?"
Harry's body stiffened at the question. "What?" he asked, more for the sake of saying something.
"What if he can't age?"
"Shit," Harry swore as he scrambled off of the couch.
A/N: So... Yeah. What did you think? The prompt was to write a story where Harry has to take care of a de-aged Malfoy who was around the age of 5. I had intended for it to be a CrackFic. Then I started writing. Oh, how things change when my fingers hit the keys. Also, erm... Don't bash the jargon. I have no idea how a hospital is run. I get it all from House M.D. I may have fibbed a bit. No big deal, right? Right.
In case you're wondering, the hospital I described is pretty much identical to the one near where I live. Minus the magic. Holy hell, if it were magical I'd make myself catch pneumonia every month. :D Still, it's an amazing place and I couldn't help but put Harry in it. He seems to be enjoying it, don't you think? I don't know why I didn't see Harry as a pediatrician before, but he looks damn hot in a white coat. *sigh*