A/N: Thanks to my beta Badgerlady, she's the best!

Disclaimer: as always, I own nothing, JKR owns it all.

Chapter 5

Late April

Draco watched with amusement as Harry once again waged war with the toys. It was by far his favorite pastime and once he got started, Draco could sit back and relax, keeping an eye on Harry while his brain sorted through the latest round of information.

The last month had produced no solutions to the problem of Harry's curse, and he and Narcissa were beginning to believe that Harry would continue on this way for the rest of his life. Severus, of course, refused to give in to that line of thought and had become even more determined to find out what curse had been used on Harry and how to counteract it.

Even Madam Pomfrey had been brought in two weeks ago to run diagnostics. They had waited until Harry was deeply asleep and then Severus had carefully placed him under a strong sleeping spell. They didn't dare to give him any potions because no one knew how they would interact with the curse. Even placing him under a spell was a risk, but they had no other solutions that would allow Madam Pomfrey the freedom to use her wand without waking Harry.

Madam Pomfrey had run every diagnostic she knew and then had consulted with a private healer through the floo to learn a few more. The only conclusion she had been able to confidently state was that he had been hit with a very strong unknown curse and for some reason Harry's magic was holding it at bay rather than letting it kill him.

The strangest aspect of it all had happened when Madam Pomfrey had demanded to see Granger. Three days later, she was allowed into Granger's hospital room after the bureaucratic pinheads had finally run out of excuses as to why Madam Pomfrey couldn't see Granger. She had run the same diagnostics on Granger and had come up with exactly the same results as she had received with Harry, including Harry's magical signature. The only difference that Madam Pomfrey had found was the irreparable damage done by the Healers in trying to cure her.

The Healers at St. Mungo's had demanded to see the results of her tests, but she hadn't shown them. Now, thanks to Kingsley Shacklebolt, paperwork was being rushed through the Ministry to turn over custody of Granger to Narcissa.

Severus, with his over-the-top guilt complex, had immediately started blaming himself for all of it and snarling at everyone around him. He had made Harry cry more than once and Draco had taken to hiding both of them in their room except for mealtimes. It had taken four days of Narcissa glaring at Severus and telling him to get over it, to finally make him to stop proclaiming that he should have seen it earlier. That he should have known. Whether or not he still believed that he was totally at fault was anybody's guess, but at least he had stopped saying it aloud.

A sudden shout of "Can-free-go!" and a half-dozen stuffed animals being thrown into the air dragged Draco from his thoughts. When he looked over, Harry had another batch of toys in his arms.

"Can-free-go!" he shouted again and threw the toys up as hard as he could, laughing as they hit the ceiling and then fell around the room.

"Harry," Draco said. "What are you doing now?"

Harry gave Draco a look that proclaimed loud and clear that Draco was being stupid. "War," he said simply and then started collecting all the toys up into a pile, presumably to blow them up again.

A noise coming from the direction of the sitting room caught Draco's attention. He slipped off his bed and went to look out the open bedroom door. The door to the sitting room was closed, which was not unusual, but there were definitely noises coming from the other side.

Draco turned to find Harry standing at his shoulder. "Are Daddy Sev and Mummy back?" he asked.

"I don't know," Draco said, frowning a bit. "They aren't supposed to be home until dinner-time."

"Let's go see!" Harry said eagerly, heading for the door.

"Harry." Draco put a hand on Harry's arm. "Let me go look. You stay here until I call you."

Harry frowned. "Somesing's wrong."

Draco stood in the doorway, blocking Harry's exit. "Stay here," he said very quietly, trying to keep his voice soothing. "I'll only be a minute and then I'll call you. I'm sure it's only Daddy Sev or Mummy."

Harry's face turned mutinous. "Want to go wif you," he whispered

"Please, Harry," Draco begged in a nearly silent voice, glancing over his shoulder at the still closed door to the sitting room. "Please stay here."

Harry crossed his arms over his chest and took a step back into the room. "'Kay," he said firmly. "But only fors a minute."

Draco heaved a sigh of relief and closed the bedroom door. Quietly he walked over to the sitting room door, pressing his ear to it to see if he could hear who was inside. Draco heard only the rustling of papers. Carefully, he reached out and turned the doorknob, easing the door open.

The man standing next to Severus's chair and rifling through the papers on the table next to it was not Severus. Draco gasped and the man spun around at the sound.

"Draco," Lucius Malfoy said. His face was the blank mask that all Malfoys perfected by the time they were ten, but his eyes gave away his surprise.

"Lucius," Draco said, trying to hide the shock he felt. "How did you find this place?"

Lucius sneered. "Your mother has betrayed me. I had to know where she had disappeared to." He waved a hand at the books on the side table. "And with my property no less."

Draco narrowed his eyes with fury. "What have you done to Mother?" he demanded.

Lucius tilted his head so that he was looking down his nose at Draco. "Nothing, yet," he proclaimed. "I 'questioned'her pitiful little house elf until he told me where Narcissa had been going, and then he brought me here. I assume he has returned home to die."

Draco squeezed his eyes shut for a second. They had let Timmy into the house once a few weeks ago to help Kreacher with supplies. It had not occurred to any of them that this would happen. That Lucius would find a way through the wards because of a house elf.

When he opened his eyes, Lucius had his wand out and trained on Draco. "Where is your mother?" he snapped.

"Lucius, put your wand away!" Draco felt the stirrings of panic and lowered his voice in the hopes that Harry would not hear. "You must put it away now!"

Lucius sneered. "What are you going to do if I don't? Beg?" He laughed cruelly. "I may just let you beg for your life before I kill you. You betrayed the family and left your duties. You disappeared with no word, no notice and left me with the embarrassment of having to explain. I will not forgive you for that."

Draco moved to stand in the doorway. He glanced to the side to see the bedroom door opening and Harry peeking out. Panic overwhelmed him and he screamed "NO!" just as Harry came out of the room.

Lucius looked startled for a moment, then sneered at the look on Draco's face. "Afraid, are you Draco? You sniveling little coward, the least you could do is show some backbone before your death."

Harry stopped in the middle of the hallway and stared at Draco with a puzzled look on his face. He had obviously heard Lucius's voice and didn't know who it was.

"Ray?" he said. "Whozzat?"

"Who is with you?" Lucius spat out and Draco made a split-second decision. He slammed the sitting room door behind him and leaned against it, hoping to keep Harry out of the room.

Lucius narrowed his eyes at Draco. The doorknob turned and Draco felt Harry pushing on the door. "Ray!" Harry called. "Let's me in!"

Lucius strode up to Draco and roughly pushed him out of the way. Draco fell to the floor with a cry.

"Harry!" he called out. "Please don't come in. Don't!"

It was too late. The door opened and Harry was staring straight at Lucius Malfoy's wand. Draco laid his head on the floor, his eyes never leaving Harry as he waited for the end.


"Severus!" Narcissa burst out of the floo in Minerva's office, her robes singed and a look of terror on her face.

Severus lurched out of his seat, followed closely by Minerva. "What happened?" he asked, running his wand over her to check for injuries.

Impatiently she pushed his wand away. "Timmy's been beaten. He confessed to me that Lucius did it and then forced him to take Lucius to where I've been staying."

Severus grabbed the floo-powder, took a handful, then handed it to Minerva. "Let's go," he said.


Harry glowed with rage. His magic swirled up around him as he threw his head back and howled. Draco watched Lucius step back in surprise, but Harry simply followed him, his eyes never leaving Lucius's wand.

"You will die," Harry said in a voice that was not his own. "You and the little girl are going to die right here and now."

What? Draco didn't understand what Harry was saying. He looked to Lucius and saw that his father's face was slack with fear.

"Did you think you could escape?" Harry continued in the strange voice. "Did you think that we wouldn't take revenge?"

Slowly Harry's hand came out and he plucked Lucius's wand from his fingers. Too late, Lucius made a move to stop him, but Harry simply pointed the wand at Lucius's face.

"Stupid boy," Harry said. "Thinking you were safe. You will never be safe from us. We have a new leader now, one who is stronger and smarter than the Dark Lord ever was."

Harry walked steadily towards Lucius until he was backed into the wall. Harry's magic reached out and trapped Lucius to the wall, pinning his hands to his sides and his feet to the floor. Sweat dripped from Lucius's face and ran down his neck, disappearing into the collar of his robes. Suddenly Harry pointed the wand off to the right and yelled "Incarcerous!" Thick ropes exploded from the wand, then fell to the floor when they found no victim. Before Lucius could react, Harry snapped the wand back to point in Lucius's face. "No more of those little hand signals, boy. She isn't going to get away."

Draco suddenly realised that Harry was reliving the moment that he had been cursed, only he was speaking as Thorfin Rowle, the Death Eater who had cursed him and Granger and then been somehow killed.

The sneer that appeared on Harry's face was not something Draco ever wanted to see again. It twisted his face up and made him look utterly evil. In that moment, Draco would have given anything to have the child-Harry back again.

"Lucius is going to be so pleased when I tell him what I've done," Harry crowed, then his voice lowered to a rough whisper. "All the important ones will be out of the way and we'll be free to take over."

Draco's eyes snapped open as he saw Lucius's face crumple. Lucius had done this. Lucius had had Harry cursed.

"You first," Harry said softly. "Then the little girl."

The wand came up to rest on Lucius's forehead and Harry whispered "FrangereNervis."

Lucius started to shriek. The pitch went higher and higher until he could no longer make a sound. Harry suddenly dropped the wand and felt to the floor screaming and crying.

Draco scrambled over to Harry. Harry's eyes were open and staring straight at Draco. "Help," he said in a strangled voice, then his back arched off the floor and he began screaming again. Draco grabbed Lucius's wand and shouted a stasis spell over Harry. Instantly, Harry stopped moving. Draco ran the only diagnostic spell he knew and saw that the curse had been slowed down but was still advancing throughout Harry's body. He had minutes to figure this out or he would lose Harry.

He ran to the floo, grabbed up a handful of floo powder, but before he could call out for the Hogwarts Infirmary, the floo flared to life and Severus, Narcissa and Professor McGonagall came through.

Draco fell to his knees in relief, the floo-powder dribbling out through his fingers. "Help," he sobbed. "You have to help him."

Professor McGonagall turned back to the floo and left. A moment later she was back with Madam Pomfrey, literally dragging her through the floo.

Severus knelt down next to Harry. "What is it?" he demanded. "What happened?"

"Nerve shattering curse," Draco said as Narcissa helped him back to his feet. "I put him in a temporary stasis, but it's only slowing the curse down, not stopping it."

Severus flinched at Draco's words.

"There's no known counter-curse," Minerva whispered.

Severus looked up. "Poppy, get a vial of Draught of Living Death."

Minerva sucked in a breath. "Severus…"

"I know, Minerva," he said softly, his hand hovering over Harry's chest. "Get Filius, quickly. We'll need to put him into a long-term stasis along with the potion."

Without a glance at Lucius, who lay dead against the wall, Minerva left through the floo again.

"Narcissa," Severus said. "Go check on Granger. We'll need to know how this has affected her and make plans accordingly."

Narcissa nodded, gave Draco a hug, which he gratefully returned, then she was gone.

"Is he going to die?" Draco asked, feeling limp and useless.

"Not if I can help it," Severus said determinedly.


Late July

Draco sat by Harry's bed watching as his chest moved slowly up, then slowly back down. One breath per minute, two heartbeats per minute were the only proof that Harry still lived.

Bill Weasley stood over Harry, waving his wand and muttering. It had taken three months for a team of the best curse-breakers in the world to develop a counter-curse to FrangereNervis, and although they had tested it numerous times on different animals, this was the first time they would use it on a human. One of the only two people to ever survive the curse beyond a few minutes.

No one could explain how Harry's magic had wrapped itself around the curse, not only in his own body, but in Granger's as well, and kept them alive for almost a year. Watching Bill now, Draco knew that if Harry didn't survive this attempt to remove the curse, no one would ever know how he'd done it.

Draco's eyes flicked over to Severus, standing guard on the other side of Harry's bed, while Narcissa sat on the bed, leaning against the headboard, her eyes never leaving Harry's face. Madam Pomfrey, Professor McGonagall and Professor Flitwick stood at the foot of the bed.

Slowly Bill lowered his wand and nodded to Severus. "It's done."

Severus reached into his robes and removed a vial of the antidote to the Draught of Living Death, while Professor Flitwick started the spell to remove the stasis. Slowly Harry's breathing increased. Three breaths per minute, then ten. After several minutes, he was breathing at a normal sleeping rate.

Professor Flitwick lowered his wand. "Now, Severus," he said, and Severus reached over and dribbled the potion into Harry's mouth, massaging his throat so that he would swallow. When the vial was empty, he stood back.

Nothing happened for several minutes and Draco was beginning to despair. He could feel the tears welling up and he blinked rapidly to stop them from falling. It was not going to work. Harry was either going to stay in a coma forever or die, Draco was certain.

A gasp from Narcissa pulled his gaze and he saw Harry raise a hand. Narcissa reached out and grasped it as Draco jumped out of his chair and leaned over Harry, pushing Bill out of the way.

"Harry," Draco whispered. "It's time to wake up."

Slowly Harry's eyes blinked open, then closed, then open again. Draco looked down into those impossibly green eyes and smiled. "Are you with us?" he asked gently.

Harry's lips curved upwards. "Ray," he whispered and there was a collective sigh of both relief and disappointment.

"Yeah, Harry," Draco whispered, sadness coloring his voice, and this time he didn't try to stop the tears that were dripping down his face. "It's me, Ray."

Harry gently pulled his hand from Narcissa and raised both of his arms out to Draco. Slowly, Draco lowered himself down onto the bed until Harry's arms wrapped around him and Draco pulled him close. "I'm here," Draco whispered in a choked voice.

"Don't cry, Ray," Harry replied in a serious tone. "I'm here too. And this time, I'm going to stay."

Draco buried his face in Harry's neck and sobbed.


Late August

Harry stood in the graveyard with Draco next to him gripping his hand. Behind him stood Severus and Narcissa. His family.

Slowly he knelt in front of the headstone engraved with the words Hermione Jean Granger and placed a bouquet of roses at the base.

"I miss you, Hermione," he said softly. "You were my closest friend, the one who stood by me through everything. I'm sorry I couldn't protect you better."

Draco knelt next to him. "You did all you could. You mustn't blame yourself."

Harry nodded, but the words didn't penetrate. If only he had stopped Rowle sooner, or had found a way to stop the Death Eaters from escaping after Voldemort's death. If only, if only. He knew that while he would eventually accept that there was nothing more he could have done, it was not going to be today.

He pushed himself to his feet and turned to look at Narcissa and Severus. Narcissa held her arms out to him and he gratefully walked into them. She slowly stroked his hair, but offered no platitudes or promises, and he appreciated that.

Finally, he pulled away from her and reached back to take Draco's hand. "Let's go home," Harry said and Severus laid a hand on Harry's shoulder and smiled.