The Bond of Brothers
Disclaimer – refer to Chapter One.
First and foremost – There have been so many lives lost in my country over the last several weeks, from the Boston Bombings, to the explosion in Texas, the tornadoes also in Texas, and yesterday the tornado that ripped through Oklahoma. My heart and prayers go to all those who have lost loved ones and have had their lives affected by these terrible events. God bless you and God bless America.
Sorry for an errors. I was tired, but I really wanted to get this up for you guys. More notes at the end.
Unlike the boy wonder in the bed next to his, for Draco, sleep remained elusive. He stared blankly up at the ceiling, his eyes long ago having adjusted to the dark. His body still ached faintly from the spell Potter had used on him yesterday, and he longed to give in to his fatigue, but every time he closed his eyes, images from this afternoon haunted him. The expression on his mother's face when she looked at Potter, the way she held him as he cried, and the tears in her eyes when he pulled uncomfortably away from her minutes later; it all left an inexplicable feeling in the pit of his stomach, one he couldn't identify, or maybe one he just refused to admit to. She'd left soon after, promising to come back later, her shoulders hunched over in a decidedly defeated posture as she'd ducked out of the partition.
He'd tried to call out to her, to demand answers to his questions, but he'd stunned silent by the scene he'd just witnessed. Briefly, he'd contemplated pressing Potter for more information as to why he'd known facts about his mother's past that he himself hadn't a clue of, but one look at the Gryffindor's face told him that any effort to get him to talk would prove futile. Potter had looked part sick, part dumbstruck, his face pale and eyes rimmed in red from his recent bought of tears. Grudgingly, he'd admitted to himself that Potter's shock at the recent turn of events was greater than his own. Draco had learned of a long lost sibling, while Potter had found out that everything he'd ever been told was a lie. So, for a reason he was still unsure of, he'd decided to take pity and leave Potter to his own assuredly troubled thoughts.
The silence between them was only broken twice for the rest of the day, each time by Pomfrey bringing them a late lunch and supper. It was when she arrived with the latter that she informed them they would both be released tomorrow morning, but that they were to meet with the Headmaster before attending their morning classes. Draco had hoped to see his mother again that night, but she remained absent. Whether because she was thinking of Potter's feelings, or because she couldn't face either of them so soon after divulging the truth, he couldn't be sure. Not long after the sun had set, Potter had turned on his side, his breathing quickly evening out as he fell asleep.
That had been several hours ago. And still here he was, awake, thinking.
A slight scuffling noise interrupted his musings, and Draco's eyes flicked in the direction of the doors, silently cursing the blasted partition for the hundredth time. He strained his ears, and, sure enough, he could hear soft footsteps approaching. Curious as to not only why someone would be up this late, but also why they were taking such care to be unheard, he decided to feign sleep and quickly shut his eyes. No sooner had he done so then he heard the sound of the curtain being pulled back, and the rustle of fabric as the mysterious visitor moved in between his and Potter's beds.
"What's Malfoy doing in here with him?" Draco heard the person hiss, and he had to bite his tongue to keep from spouting off a retort at the all too familiar voice of Weasley.
"I don't know," came a second voice, and Draco held back a groan. He should have guessed Granger wouldn't have let Weasley sneak out on his own. "But be quiet, we don't want to wake him," she whispered.
There was the soft groan of a mattress, and he guessed that Granger had sat down next to Potter. "Harry," she muttered. "Harry, wake up, it's us."
"Mmhmm," was Potter's muffled response.
"Mate, come on."
Draco heard Potter turn over and reach for his glasses on the table between them. There was a beat of silence, then, "Ron, 'Mione? Wha' are you doin' here?"
"Checking on you, of course."
"Yeah, McGonagall wouldn't tell us anything."
"Professor McGonagall, Ronald."
"Anyways, what happened, mate? And why are you roomed up with Malfoy?" Weasley practically spat out his name.
Draco could hear more rustling, then Potter whispered worriedly, "He still asleep?"
A pause followed in which Draco made sure to keep his breathing slow and even. "Yes," came Granger's voice. "He is. Now will you tell us why you ended up in the hospital wing? Again?" Her disapproval of Potter's current situation was clear.
"It was nothing," Potter mumbled. Brilliant, Draco thought sarcastically, that will really satisfy Granger. Good thinking.
"Nothing doesn't put you in the infirmary, mate," scoffed Weasley.
"Tell us the truth, Harry."
"It was just a stupid fight," Potter tried again. "Honestly, nothing to worry about. I'm getting released in the morning."
"A fight with Malfoy?" Granger pressed.
"Nice going, Harry." Weasley's whisper was promptly followed by a thwack, which he assumed was Granger's hand hitting his head. "Ow, Hermione, what was that for?"
"Don't encourage him, Ron!" snapped Granger. "And Harry, what were you thinking, starting a duel with Malfoy?"
"Who said I started it?"
"Why else did you take off sprinting for the castle leaving Katie and us behind without saying anything?"
"It's not what you think, Hermione, I…"
Draco held his breath, wondering what Potter was going to say next.
"I… can't explain, okay? Not right now." There was a noise of protest from Granger. "Please, Hermione, just drop it. I promise I won't do it again."
"Fine," Granger whispered, and Draco could imagine the look of displeasure on her face. "I'm just glad you're okay, Harry," she continued in a softer tone.
"Yeah, we've all been worried about you, Harry. But, honestly, why are you roomed up with this git?" Again, Draco had to force himself to keep quite.
"I dunno," was Potter's intelligent mumbled response. "Maybe Dumbledore wanted us to get over our differences or something."
"Yeah right. Not bloody likely. Malfoy's a slimy Slytherin who-"
"Shut up, Ron," Potter forcefully interrupted what was sure to be a colorful tirade from Weasley, taking Draco completely by surprise.
"What, Harry? He's the reason you're in the hospital wing!" Weasley whispered angrily.
"No," Potter said quickly. "I mean, yes, he is, but not how you think."
"What do you mean, Harry?" asked Granger, obviously confused.
There was a long moment of silence, and then Potter answered, his words so quiet Draco had to strain to hear them. "It was my fault. I… I hurt him."
"Harry, what happened?" Granger's voice was soft, subdued.
Potter shifted on his bed. "Thanks for coming to check on me, but I'm really tired. I'll see you tomorrow in class."
After a few seconds, her heard Granger stand up. "Alright, Harry. We'll see you tomorrow." Then Granger and Weasley left, their footsteps fading away as they snuck back out into the corridor.
Draco kept his eyes closed, pondering over the conversation he'd just heard and what exactly Potter's answers meant. He always assumed the Golden Trio told each other everything, but Potter obviously didn't want to tell his friends what had happened, about their duel or what they'd learned afterward.
He finally fell asleep sometime later, his jumbled thoughts causing him to spend a fitful night full of odd dreams he couldn't remember upon waking.
The partition was pulled back unexpectedly the next morning, startling Harry. He'd been lost in his thoughts since he'd woken up sometime ago, making a point to ignore Draco on the other side of the small space.
"Follow me," said Snape, his face impassive as he flicked his gaze between them. "I'm to escort you to the Headmaster."
The trek to Dumbledore's office was filled with tense silence, both Harry and Draco walking fast to keep up with the clipped pace of their professor. They didn't pass any stray students seeing as breakfast had already started in the Great Hall. When they reached the Gargoyle, it jumped aside with a quiet word from Snape, and they all three climbed the spiral staircase.
Reaching the top, Snape opened the door and strode into the office, not sparing a glance behind him. Harry took a deep breath, shooting a nervous glance to his side. Cool grey eyes met his, and he quickly dropped his gaze. He stepped hastily into the office, only to stop short when he caught sight of the person already seated in front of the Headmaster's desk. Narcissa turned to look at him, her eyes looking even more tired then when he'd seen her yesterday.
"Harry, Mr. Malfoy," Dumbledore greeted them without any of his usual enthusiasm. "Please, take a seat." He gestured to the two empty chairs on either side of Narcissa. Draco swept past him, gracefully settling himself in the seat to his mother's right. Swallowing his urge to run away, Harry managed to move his feet forward, lowering himself cautiously into the last vacant seat. He kept his eyes trained forward, not able to look at Narcissa after having broken down crying in her arms yesterday.
"Now," Dumbledore started, clasping his hands over his desk. "There are a few matters we must discuss that are of grave importance, the first of which being that the truth of Harry's parentage must not leave this room. This information in the wrong hands could prove most dangerous. You must not speak of it to anyone, not even your friends." At this, Dumbledore looked straight at him.
"Yes, sir," Harry mumbled. He hadn't intended to tell them anyways. It was bad enough simply imagining their reactions when they heard who is true family was; he didn't need to see them real life.
"It is also important that your behavior towards each other not change, as well," Dumbledore continued, only to be interrupted by Narcissa.
"You can't mean they must continue to act as enemies?" she asked, sounding outraged. "I won't allow it. They are brothers!" Both Harry and Draco flinched at the reminder of their redefined relationship.
"Narcissa, they must keep up appearances, otherwise undue attention will be directed towards them. We can't risk the Dark Lord finding out and doubting Draco's loyalties," Snape answered for Dumbledore, speaking plainly.
Narcissa deflated some, although she looked far from happy. "I suppose you are right, Severus, but is this how it must always be? Will they never have the chance to get to know one another?"
"I believe I have a solution," spoke up Dumbledore, a hint of his familiar twinkle sparking in his eyes. "Harry is already receiving private instruction from Professor Snape in Occlumency. I would like for Mr. Malfoy to join in these lessons as well."
"What!" Harry couldn't help but speak up at this announcement. Those lessons were bad enough with only Snape as a witness, he didn't want Draco to see him repeatedly fail as well.
"Why is Harry learning Occlumency?" Narcissa demanded at the same time, while Draco glanced between them, brow furrowed in confusion.
Dumbledore ignored his outburst, and instead turned his attention towards Narcissa. "Harry shares a special connection to Voldemort. It is necessary for him to learn how to shield his mind."
Narcissa's eyes grew wide, and the blood drained from her face. "What do you mean, they share a special connection?"
"Harry, perhaps you would like to explain?" Dumbledore looked to him over the top of his spectacles.
He shifted uncomfortably as he felt the stares of both Narcissa and Draco on him. He licked his lips, his throat suddenly very dry. "I… get visions… sometimes. Flashes, really."
"Visions of what?" Narcissa asked, her voice quiet.
"Different things. Death Eater meetings. Sometimes I can feel his emotions."
Harry could see Narcissa grip the armrest of her chair at his confession, her knuckles white. He chanced a look at her expression. Her face was frozen in a mask of horror and concern.
"But," Draco interrupted the silence. "Why do I need to learn, too?"
"Voldemort is an accomplished Legilimens, Mr. Malfoy. If we hope to keep this secret from being discovered, then you must learn to shield your mind from him as well. It is as much for your own safety as it is for Harry's and your parents'," replied Dumbledore, his tone grave.
"Your lessons will be under the guise of detentions," Snape added, not looking any happier about the situation than Harry felt. "Detentions that will be served every Friday until the end of term."
"Why detentions? No one will ever believe that both Malfoy and I have detentions together every week?" Harry protested.
"Yes, they will, Harry," said Dumbledore. "The entire school has been made aware that a duel took place between the two of you, causing you both to be placed in the hospital wing. The detentions are to serve as your punishment. This will satisfy the other professors and provide an excellent cover for lessons."
Harry was still far from happy about this new situation, but he grudgingly mumbled, "Fine," crossing his arms to show his displeasure.
"That is settled then. Now," Dumbledore looked at them each. "Do any of you have any questions?"
"Is it because of what happened that night?" Narcissa asked softly, her hand reaching out as if to touch his scar. "The night Lily and James died? Is that why they have a connection?" Harry leaned away from her, and her arm dropped abruptly back to her side.
Dumbledore inclined his head, "Yes."
"Wait," Harry said suddenly, I thought striking him that he couldn't believe he hadn't considered as soon as he'd discovered that Lily and James Potter were not his biological parents. However, now that it had occurred to him, he desperately latched onto it. "When was I born?" He turned frantically to Narcissa. "My birthday? When is it?"
Narcissa stared at him, not sure what to make of his sudden difference in manner. "That was the only thing we didn't change," she told him, and Harry felt his heart plummet into the vicinity of his stomach. "You were born one minute before midnight on the thirty-first of July, and Draco was born two minutes later on the first of August."
"But," Harry sputtered, feeling like his lifeline was slipping through his fingers. He looked to Dumbledore. "No! It can't be me… it just can't! Not anymore! Can it?"
Dumbledore gazed at him sadly, "Harry…"
"No," he murmured, putting his head in his hands, eyes squeezed shut. For the briefest of moments, he'd thought his burden was gone, thought that his future was his own. And now his last shred of hope was gone, however fleeting it had been, and the finality of his situation was crushing.
"I don't understand," Narcissa said. "What are you talking about Harry? Why is your birthday important."
Harry didn't respond, it taking all of his strength to keep his composure. He was determined not to break down as he had down yesterday. He wasn't a child, he was nearly an adult, and adults don't cry every five minutes.
There was a soft touch on his arm. He opened his eyes to see Narcissa watching him with worry, her hand hesitantly offering comfort. He looked to Dumbledore, not knowing what to say.
"I feel secure in saying that anything spoken in this office will not leave it, Harry." Dumbledore gestured to Narcissa and Draco. "They are you're family, my boy. It is up to you."
Harry glanced at his… family's… faces. Narcissa's was full of motherly concern while Draco's was serious, a glint in his eye that let Harry know if he didn't give him something, the other boy wouldn't stop until he found out what was going on.
Sighing, he said, "There's a prophecy…"
A sharp intake of breath stopped him from elaborating any further. Narcissa had brought her hand up to her mouth, her eyes wide. "Please, no," she whispered, her voice quivering. "This is… this is why you where in the Department of Mysteries?"
Harry moved his eyes to the floor, nodding, the memories from that night still painful.
"I," Narcissa whispered. "Lucius had mentioned… but I didn't want to believe it."
"Are you saying," Draco cut in, sounding disbelieving. "That all the rubbish the Prophet's been publishing about you is true? That you're some kind of Chosen One?"
Harry glared at him, anger rising. "Yes," he snapped.
"You can't be serious?" Draco scoffed. "Well, then, I guess we're all doomed if we've got you for a savior."
"And what would you know, Malfoy?" Harry retorted, just barely keeping himself from yelling. "At least I'm not running around cursing innocent people like a good little servant!"
Draco shot to his feet, hands clenched at his sides, his face pale. "Shut up, Potter! You don't know what you're talking about!"
He jumped up from his seat, but before he could respond Narcissa stood up in between them, commanding, "Boys, enough!" She whipped her head back and forth glaring at them both. "Sit down, both of you."
Her words left no room for argument. Harry sat down reluctantly, noting how eerily similar Narcissa had sounded to Molly Weasley in that moment. Draco, too, sat down, though his grey eyes remained hard, his lips pressed into a thin line. Belatedly, he realized this was the first time he was being scolded by his mother.
Seeing that both of them were complying, Narcissa schooled her expression. "I think that is enough for today, Headmaster," she said coolly. "But do not think this conversation is over."
"I think you are right, Mrs. Malfoy," Dumbledore acquiesced. "Further conversation would be best left for another day. The events of this weekend have been taxing on us all."
Narcissa inclined her head. "I will be in touch." She moved towards the door, Draco standing and following without a word to the Headmaster.
"Professor," Harry spoke up, making Narcissa pause with her hand on the door. "I was wondering if I could speak to you alone."
Dumbledore peered at him, his eyes looking older than he'd ever seen them. "Of course, Harry." He looked towards Snape who had remained impassive off to the side. "If you'll excuse us Severus."
"Headmaster," Snape said, sweeping to the door where Narcissa still stood, looking at him.
"Harry," she called his name, her expression conflicted. He forced himself to meet her eyes. "I just… good-bye, Harry."
He swallowed. "Bye."
With a look of longing, she disappeared down the stair case, Draco close behind. Snape followed, shutting the door with a sharp rap.
Finally alone with the Headmaster, Harry turned to him. Neither of them said anything at first, the only sound the soft whirring of the various instruments scattered about the office and the muffled snores from the portraits of past Headmasters. He slipped his hand into his pocket, brushing his fingers of the worn parchment of the letter Narcissa had given him yesterday, the letter addressed to Dumbledore from Lily Potter.
After a few weighty seconds, Harry looked into the eyes of the man he had come to respect and trust over the last five years, and said, "You always knew, didn't you."
It wasn't a question, but Dumbledore answered anyways. "Yes, I've known for fifteen years."
"And you kept it from me."
"I had a right to know."
Dumbledore sighed heavily, his shoulders sagging under some invisible weight. "Everything I did, Harry, was to keep you safe."
Harry couldn't hold back a bark of bitter laughter. "When in my life have I ever been safe, Headmaster?"
"I am sorry, Harry," said Dumbledore. "It is true, I have failed you on more than one occasion."
"I don't know if I can ever trust you again." And Harry meant it. If Dumbledore had lied about this, then was there truly no limit to his meddling? Not only had he hid the truth of his parentage from him, but he went against Lily's last wishes in her letter and kept him from a mother that would have surely loved him. A childhood with Lucius Malfoy as a father may not have been pleasant, but certainly it would have been better than living in a cupboard, unloved and unwanted, called freak and mistreated by people who were not even his true relatives.
"I understand, Harry." Dumbledore looked sincere, but Harry had come to realize the man's acting prowess and couldn't trust what he was seeing.
Harry stood up, his face hard. "I have more questions, but I can't stand to look at you right now, Professor. I'm sorry."
With that, he quickly left the office and the man who had been pulling the strings of his life for far too long. Harry Potter was done being a puppet.
When they reached the empty corridor outside the Headmaster's office, Snape turned to him and said, "Breakfast is nearly over. I'll give you a moment to say good-bye and then I will escort you to your dormitory to retrieve your books for class." With a nod of farewell to his mother, Snape moved several meters away, allowing them privacy.
His mother reached up and smoothed back his hair, smiling softly. "Be good, Draco. And please try to get along," she said, and he didn't need to ask to whom she was referring.
"Mother," he said, wetting his lips. "Can I ask you one question?"
She looked at him, eyes gentle. "What is it?"
"Why him?" he asked, the one question that had been burning in him since her long explanation yesterday.
Her brow crinkled in confusion. "What do you mean, sweet heart?"
Draco looked nervously down at his feet, ashamed of his own insecurities. Malfoys were not weak. "Why did you try to save him, and not me?"
"Oh, Draco," she whispered, brushing a thumb across his cheek.
"Did you love him more?" his words were barely even a whisper as he gave voice to the suspicion that had been growing in his heart.
His mother put a hand under his chin, forcing him to look up at her. Her eyes were filled with unshed tears. "From the moment I knew I was pregnant," she spoke softly, slowly, making sure he was listening to every word. "I promised Harry to Lily and James. He was always going to be theirs. But you, Draco," she paused, smiling at him, lovingly taking in his features with her eyes. "You were my own miracle. You were all mine."
Draco stubbornly blinked back tears. His mother's arms snaked around him and pulled him into a fierce embrace. "I love you, both of you, more than you can ever know," she whispered in his ear. Then, pulling away, she added, "And don't you ever doubt that."
Working past the lump in his throat, Draco responded, "I love you, too, mother."
His mother smiled. "I'll see you soon, son." And then she was gone.
Draco turned and walked to where his professor was waiting for him. They made their way in silence for a few minutes as they descended into the dungeons. When they were almost to the Slytherin dormitory, Snape cleared his throat.
"I trust you understand how vital it is to your own safety, as well as to your parents, that the Dark Lord does not learn about your relationship to Potter?"
He looked at his professor calculatingly. "Or about your own loyalties?"
Snape stiffened imperceptibly, but stayed silent.
Draco grinned to himself at having his assumptions about the dour professor proven correct. "I understand, sir."
"See that you do, Mr. Malfoy," Snape replied coldly. They stopped in front of the entrance to the common room. "Friday evening, 8 o'clock sharp. Do not be late." With that reminder of his 'detention', his professor swept off in the direction of the potions classroom, his black robe billowing out behind him.
Taking a deep breath, Draco carefully reconstructed his aloof Slytherin mask. Giving the password, he stepped regally into the common room, appearing to all the world as if nothing had changed.
Alrighty, folks. Hey, look! I updated! Yeah… sorry for the long wait. Life was hectic, and thanks to the winter that just wouldn't go away, I suffered from more than one nasty cold. All that aside, I had one heck of a time getting over some major writers block. I've got several parts later in this story all written out, but was struggling with how to actually get to those points. Anyways, hopefully this chapter doesn't disappoint too much!
Not sure when I'll be updating again. I'm going on a missions trip to South Africa in July and will hopefully be transferring to a new college as well as changing majors in the fall so I'll just have to see how things go. But, hey, I won't be giving up on this story any time soon. Honestly, Harry and Draco wouldn't ever leave me alone if I did! :)
As always, review!