Title: Vertigo (5/13)

Author: Icicle33

Pairing(s): Severus/Draco, past Severus/Lily

Summary: I thought that I would never feel again, not after losing her. But something about him, about this insane yet beautiful boy, has awakened feelings deep within me that I thought were long dead.

Word Count: ~23K total

Rating: T for now but will be M in future chapters

Warnings: refer to chapter 1 for all warnings. There are no warnings for this chapter except for some Hurt/Comfort between a Draco and a worried Snape.

Author's Notes: Thank you so much to everyone who has read this story that's close to my heart. I give you all marshmellow peeps this time! A special thank you to my lovely betas Evening12 and Ashiiblack. Draco's finally back in this chapter. I hope you enjoy it.

. 5 .

A warm breeze fills the room. Sunlight strews through the pale silver curtains, reflecting off the white blond head that lies motionless on the bed. His skin is pale, almost as white as the satin sheets he rests on. It seems ridiculous that I notice such trivialities such as the colour of his skin — the length of his eyelashes — yet I cannot make myself look away.

Two purple bruises mar the delicate skin underneath his eyes, a large angry scar running down his neck. His cheeks are even hollower than when I saw him last, sharp bones almost piercing underneath his thin skin. Yet, there's an almost translucent quality about that pale skin, about that golden hair. I yearn to reach out and run my fingers through his hair, to trace that hideous scar on his neck that tarnishes his perfect flesh. Jesus sodding Christ, snap out of it!

I sit by my bed, in a nearby leather armchair, where I've been sitting all night. I don't remember falling asleep, so sleep must have come at some point in the early morning. A crick in my neck annoys me but is not unexpected. What is unexpected, however, is the sour bile churning in my stomach. Why do I feel like this? It hardly makes sense. I'm not doing this for him. He's just a boy, another student, a rather annoying and spoiled student. That's all. I do not have feelings, sexual or otherwise, for one of my students.

I scowl and run a hand through my hair, pushing it out of my face. I inch my chair closer to the bed and lean over to examine my patient. A quick Diagnostic Spell tells me that his vitals are still weak but much stronger than the previous night. There had been so much blood, such heavy nerve damage. I wasn't sure that I could save him—that I would be able to keep my promise to Narcissa.

After fleeing Hogwarts, I was so consumed with guilt for killing Albus that I didn't think about Draco. I just told him to follow and without saying a word, he did. He followed my every step, keeping his head down and trying to keep his distance from Greyback. I could tell that Greyback was sending him devious looks, eyeing him and considering making the boy his next plaything. Until then, Draco was under Voldemort's protection. He was not to be touched or harmed in any way until he completed his task. If he failed, then Voldemort would decide what to do to him. I knew that he would be punished for his failures.

Foolishly, I assumed that since the task was accomplished the Dark Lord would be more lenient. Leniency does not exist in the Dark Lord's vocabulary. I offered Voldemort the good news and after receiving my adequate prize and dining at the Dark Lord's right hand side, I dismissed myself, not even casting a second glance towards Draco. I figured he would be safe until morning. Oh, how wrong I was.

Not only did Voldemort hold him under repeated Cruciatus, he was given to Greyback as a toy for the evening. When I walked into Greyback's quarters in the middle of the night, I found Draco passed out in a pool of his own vomit, saliva, and blood with Greyback leant over him naked, a predatory look in his fiendish eyes.

Without even offering an explanation, I stunned Greyback and removed Draco from his care, scooping him up in my arms and taking him straight to my Potions laboratory. Thank Merlin I arrived when I did. I can't imagine the horrors Greyback would have inflicted on him, if I were only a few moments later.

Greyback does not have the bollocks to complain to the Dark Lord, not when I've just been made Voldemort's new right hand man. If I have to deal with the Dark Lord's wrath, I will take my chances and punishment in stride. Even if I don't particularly care for the Malfoy boy, I cannot have another death on my conscious, not right after Albus.

Deep down, I know it's a lie. In my own way, I've always cared about Draco.

x x x

A soft cough pulls me from my thoughts.

I snap my head up and realise that I'm hovering. An ungainly warmth creeps across my cheeks, but I know nothing will come of it. My sallow colouring is ideal for hiding unnecessary emotions like blushing. How absurd.

"Sev-er-" Draco's voice is hoarse. He breaks into a coughing fit and cannot stop himself long enough to finish speaking.

"Don't try to speak," I say, my voice firm. "Your vocal chords are raw."

Draco sits up and continues to cough. He nods. His pale hair is ruffled and face creased with sleep lines, eyes bloodshot.

"How are you feeling?"

I bite down on my lip, realising that I have asked the boy not to speak. I can't explain why, but something has disconcerted me about seeing Draco like this, staring up at me with wide troubled eyes. It's been so long since we last spoke, spent time alone together. Until Slughorn's party, Draco used to help me brew potions for the infirmary every Saturday. Now, he avoids me as if I had an infectious disease.

Draco opens his mouth again and I shake my head. "Let me get you some water."

I charm the nearby pitcher to pour a glass of water and then Summon it to Draco. This spell is quite advanced, but over the years I've mastered it. When one leads a life as solitary as my own, the only place I find solace is in research and spell work.

Draco takes a long gulp, emptying almost half the glass and then rolls his eyes. "Show off," he croaks, his voice still hoarse but less so.

A smirk plays on my lips. I can't pretend that seeing him wear that Malfoy mask of bravado again doesn't please me. He almost died the night before, the second time in a month. Frankly, I don't even know how he's alive, how I've managed to save him after losing so much blood on both occasions. Perhaps it's his youth or the strength and tenacity in the Malfoy and Black bloodlines. Either way, I'm thankful that he appears to be out of any immediate danger. At least I'll have a positive report for Narcissa.

"You should eat something," I say, breaking the silence. "I'll go summon one of the elves and alert your mother that you're awake."

I stand from the chair and begin walking out of the room. I can no longer take that look he's giving me: devious, affectionate, and grateful all at once. It's too much to digest.

"I, wait!" A cold hand grabs the back of my robes and attempts to pull me closer.

Reluctantly, I turn around, a familiar bout of shame stirring in my gut. I open my mouth to protest, but as soon as I take in those earnest grey eyes — shining almost silver in the refracted sunlight and those full chapped lips that had once met my own — I'm speechless. This is insane, absurd. He's only a boy and I a grown man, but there's something about him that's affecting me.

"Thank you," he says, his voice soft and hushed.

I shake my robe away from Draco's grip and raise an eyebrow, trying to keep my face as closed off and inscrutable as possible. "There's no need."

And with an overbearing swish of my robes, I'm gone.

I know it's a cheap trick to Apparate out of the boy's room when I only needed to take a few steps to the door, but I don't think I could have managed another second in that room. My heart hammers against my chest and my lungs struggle for air. I need to distance myself immediately, from my under-aged student, whom I'm undeniably starting to desire.

A/N: I hope you appreciated the second update of the day! I'll continue updating quickly when there are short chapters, but I would still appreciate some comments. This might be sad, but reviews make my day!