Notes: Watch out for rampant OOCness...ooh, and the title for this chapter is also the title of a children's book I'm rather fond of, the authur of which is Joan M. Lexau...I thought the name appropriate, but the title really belongs to her.

~Daisy Chains~ ~Trouble Will Find You~

Sadly, Ron trudged from the Great Hall. His first class was Herbology today--with the Hufflepuffs. He stopped for a moment to stare at the entrance hall. This was probably the last time he'd ever see it before he died a horrible, painful death. And the grass, oh, the green grass. He bent down (amongst odd looks from his housemates and an exasperated one from Hermione) and ran trembling fingers over the sharp blades of grass. He'd sure miss the grass.

And the sky. He opened his arms to the cerulean blue heavens and said to himself, 'I never truly appreciated you, sky.' He held back his emotions valiantly, though.

The greenhouse. He patted the greenhouse as they entered for their Herbology lesson.

And Professor Sprout!

Hermione watched with horror as Ron leapt forward and hugged Professor Sprout to his breast, declaring, "You were such a great professor, Professor! I'm going to miss caring for icky plants under your loving supervision!"

Hermione had never seen Professor Sprout as a particularly "loving" individual. In fact, she was looking very red in the face and demanding the Ron disengage himself from her person at once. He did so, reluctantly, trying to look manly and brave. He took his place beside Hermione, and she whispered, "What's with you, Ron?"

"I. I. I just want to say goodbye to everything," he said in a suffering manner.

Fighting to keep a straight face, Hermione said, "There's really only one thing to do at this point."

Ron stared with barely contained despair. He had a feeling he knew what she was going to say.

"We have to go to Professor Dumbledore. It's the only way...In the meantime..." She cast a glance in Professor Sprout's direction, and lowered her voice. "If anyone asks about Harry, we'll say he's in his room, that he's taken ill."

"Brilliant plan, Hermione," Ron said, before slouching low in his chair, the pit of his stomach having fallen away.

Draco, it just so happened, was having problems of his own. He found himself loath to part with Harry, and that rather shocked him. These misplaced emotions were really beginning to get on his nerves. As soon as Harry was gone, everything would be back to normal, he assured himself.

However, before he could set off for his first class, he was intercepted by Vincent Crabbe, who appeared quite relieved to see him. "Draco!" The (considerably) larger boy panted at the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room. Draco put one hand on his hip, his other hand tightening around Harry's. Harry was trying to pull away to play with a magical doll one of the First Year Slytherin girls had left in front of the hearth.

"Spit it out, Vincent," Draco said impatiently. "I'm in a hurry. Potter wanted to have bit a fun with the porridge--we may not have gotten it all out of your bedspread, but I'm sure a house-elf'll--"

"Your father sent you an owl."

"Wh-what?" Draco stumbled slightly.

"The owl couldn't get all the way down here from the Great Hall...so...I got it for you."

Apart from being surprised that Crabbe was talking in actual words instead of grunts, Draco was shell-shocked by the reminder of his father, and with that a reminder that he, Draco, was worst enemies with the boy currently clinging to his leg and making faces at Crabbe.

"What did my father send me?"

"A, uh, letter."

"Oh. Well, hand it over." Draco took the neat envelope with the Malfoy family crest on it and then ordered Crabbe to go on ahead to his first lesson. "Wouldn't want you to be late on account of me," he said in a sugary sweet voice. As soon as Crabbe was gone, Draco tore open the letter (Harry, by the way, took this opportunity to snatch up the magical doll--he liked its sharp teeth and the way it said "I LOVE the Dark Lord!" whenever he pressed it's tummy).

Draco stared at the letter.

Draco,

It has come to my attention via our Death Eater Network that you, MY SON (though perhaps not for much longer), have been meddling in certain matters that are not of your concern. In other words, kindly refrain from taking in Lost Little Orphans. If you will recall, I have explicitly told you time and time again to NEVER, under ANY circumstances, take a lost little orphan or an abused animal under your wing. It doesn't do well for your image. I don't know WHO this lost little orphan is, actually, and I don't particularly care. I want it back out on the streets...or wherever it came from. Do you understand me?

Lucius.

P.S. Your mother said to tell you that she'll be sending you a batch of her magic-made cookies come Christmas...as well as a stack of ridiculously expensive presents I was loath to buy you.

"Imagine that," said Draco, pulling the doll out of Harry's grasp. "Father thinks I've taken in a lost little orphan. Actually...you kind of ARE a lost little orphan. If I actually had a heart, I'd feel sorry for you," he addressed Harry. He walked determinedly toward the Common Room exit. "Well, off we go."

Draco's first lesson was uneventful. He had Professor Binns, who was always rather absorbed with his teaching and didn't seem to recognize Harry for who he was. Of course, Draco got plenty of odd looks from his housemates, now that so many of them were all in one room, but no one remarked on his odd companion--don't ask, don't tell.

He knew he'd have a bit of a problem once he went into the Potions classroom. Weasley and Granger would be there, and so would about a million (okay, say ten) other Gryffindors. It looked like it was time for him to hand Harry over to a professor. 'Which you should have done to begin with, you prat,' his conscience informed him. It was generally very quiet, but ever since he'd met child Harry, his conscience had been speaking up more and more.

'I was going to,' he assured it. 'I was just...biding my time.'

'Ha. Yeah, right.'

It was then that Harry grabbed Draco's robes, bent over, and was sick all over the stone floor. Draco yelped and tried to leap aside, but only succeeded in dragging Harry along with him.

"Damn it, Potter, why'd you have to--" He shut up immediately when he realized that Harry was crying. Deciding that he simply COULDN'T turn Harry in when he was in so much distress ('A good thing,' he added mentally), he carefully lifted the boy, held him out at arms length, and trudged back to the Slytherin Common Room.

He supposed Harry must have eaten too much porridge and toast that morning. He also supposed he'd have to let Pansy Parkinson watch after Harry this afternoon so he could go and apologize...no, negotiate with his professors concerning how much extra work he would have to do to make up his missed classes.

Once in the Fifth Year dorm room, Harry vomited on Crabbe's bedspread (which hadn't yet been cleaned of that morning's porridge), and Draco forced the black-haired boy to sit on Difleu's bed, holding a wastepaper basket between his legs. Draco knew he should take Harry to the Hospital Wing, but he honestly thought he could deal with the problem at hand all by himself. He was, after all, a Malfoy.

Later that night.

Draco's "negotiating" had done little good. Even Professor Snape was furious with him. He was loaded down with homework, and though Parkinson seemed willing enough to do anything for Draco, she wasn't making much of an effort to ensure Harry was well taken care of. He (Harry) was STILL sick. He had a slight fever, and his eyes kept going unfocused. Draco was halfway through his work when Harry's stomach finally ran out of actual fluids and food to heave up.

"Try to sleep, then," said Draco rather roughly.

"Medicine?" Harry croaked.

"Why don't you just take him to Madame Pomfrey?" Pansy asked, nudging Draco with her elbow.

"Stupid kid," muttered Draco--though he wasn't sure if he was talking about Harry or himself.

"I'm not staying up all night with him," Pansy said firmly.

"I--" He shook his head, at a loss. "I guess I'd better set off for the Hospital Wing, then?"

"Yes. The best idea you've had all day, Draco."

"Draco! Draco!" Pudgy little hands wrapped around his neck as Draco lifted Harry, careful to not jostle him too much; how humiliating it would be, if Harry were to hurl all over him now, when the vomiting part of his illness had finally abated. "We going where?"

"To see Madame Pomfrey," said Draco, and now that he'd said it, he felt better. In fact, he felt like he was in charge again. He was getting what he wanted--getting rid of Potter, and...

And what if he got blamed for Harry's sudden sickness? That thought made him pause. Well...he'd just go to the Headmaster and explain himself before any accusations could be made. There. He'd figured it all out. He was a genius.

A smirk flitted across his face. He was outside the Hospital Wing in no time. Madame Pomfrey was shocked to see Harry--she had heard the rumors like everyone else, but hearing about something and actually seeing it were two entirely different things. "What's wrong with the child?" she asked, confining Harry to a small cot and flitting around, looking for potions and her wand, which she seemed to have misplaced. She waited for Draco to answer, but when she turned around, he was gone.

Draco was, it just so happened, making his way toward the Headmaster's office. He'd actually been in once or twice, due to a mishap in Transfiguration and an inquiry concerning his father--he had stoically denied all accusations, of course. Now would be no different. He would march up there, face the old man, and get his story out.

HE, in fact, was the victim here. He had been imposed upon by Potter, and it was really all Granger and Weasley's fault. If they had been more responsible...

He didn't know the password.

He stood before the stone gargoyle that guarded the entryway, and tried to think of what to do next. Maybe if he knocked...

"MALFOY?!"

That annoying voice cut through his pondering, but he refused to turn and look at who he KNEW would be there. (He felt it gave him a sense of mystery...and that was something Weasley was severely lacking in.)

Ron, for his part, stared at Malfoy, his mouth agape. His body tensed up, and even when Hermione laid a calming hand on his arm, he couldn't seem to organize the words he wanted to say.

And that was how Professor McGonagall found them when she rounded the corner exactly two seconds later.