Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters created by J.K. Rowling.
The weather was horrible, which should have indicated what kind of day they would be having. They should have felt something was going to happen. But when the summons arrived, they didn't think anything unusual was going to happen. They had no idea how wrong they were. They had no idea how drastically their lives were about to change.
Draco Malfoy was within his godfather's study; ignoring his tea and standing before the large window with the heel of his palm pressing circles over his chest; over his heart. Trying to dispel the tightness there. The never ending ache. It had been getting worse over the last few months and tonight the ache was especially noticeable. He'd been in hiding since the beginning of the summer, Severus having taken it upon himself to hide Draco away from his father and his father's associates. That hurt. It was probably one of the reasons why he felt this pain. There was something else though. He knew deep down this ache was caused by something else, perhaps someone else. Draco sighed and dropped his forehead against the cool glass of the window. As soon as his eyes closed, a flash of pained and frightened green eyes flashed into his minds eyes, causing Draco to gasp and clutch at his chest with that hand. "Potter?" he whispered.
Draco opened his eyes, staring unseeing outside. Potter had been on his mind a lot recently as well. Truthfully- he could be truthful to himself- Potter had always been on his mind.
Before he could think further on the enigma that was the gorgeous Golden Boy, Severus entered the study with his robes billowing out around him. "Come Draco. Dumbledore has called me to his office and I do not want to leave you here alone."
Draco nodded and followed his godfather to the fireplace and soon they had flooed into Severus' personal quarters within Hogwarts. Draco was told to remain there while Severus went to see what the old coot wanted. The blond Slytherin smirked at the aggravation appearing on his godfather's face but he wisely kept his mouth shut as he lowered himself onto the sofa and stared off into the fire.
While he was alone, he thought about the rest of his summer vacation, wondering if it would be as safe as it had been since being moved to his godfather's estate. Draco wondered not for the first time where Severus planned to keep him for the rest of the summer, as it would be impossible to remain at Severus' estate. No doubt the Death Eaters would soon make an appearance to see if Draco had run to his godfather.
Draco didn't have the proper amount of time to ponder this because after a few more moments alone, the door slammed open, to reveal a very disgruntled Severus storm in.
Draco stood, eyeing Severus' face. "Obviously the old man has said something that you don't like," he drawled.
Severus stalked by his godson without a word and went into his private potions closet. Draco heard the clinking of potion vials and went to see what was going on. He caught his godfather shrinking and storing many potions into the hidden pockets of his robes.
"Are you going to tell me what's going on?" Draco finally asked as they left Severus' rooms and began to travel through the castle heading for the Entrance Hall.
"Dumbledore is sending me on a ridiculous mission to check on his pet. According to Fawkes, something his happening at the home of Harry Potter."
Draco's eyes widened, but then he quickly sneered to cover up his true feelings on what he'd just heard. "What? Is the Golden Boy not getting everything he wants? Not enough servants doing his bidding?" the usual taunts sounded wrong on his tongue. There was no real venom in it. Severus must have thought so too because he looked at his godson with a raised brow.
"I could care less, Draco. But I've been ordered to check up on him, and you'll be going with me."
"Why are you taking all those potions if you think it's nothing?" Draco asked as they ascended from the dungeons.
"Always go prepared. You should think about doing the same."
"Why would I want to do that when I've got you?"
His godfather just sneered at him as they headed out of the entrance hall and proceeded to the Hogwarts gates, where from there they could Apparate.
"I know you can Apparate now, but you will have to side-along for this one." Draco nodded just in time before his godfather grabbed the back of his neck, and they were gone with a POP!
Severus and Draco reappeared in a darkened alley a couple of blocks from Potter's house.
"Have you ever been to Potter's house before?" Draco asked quietly.
"No, I was only now given the coordinates. Why Dumbledore couldn't send one of the Order is beyond me. He knows I have you to deal with. Though he even told me not to expect anything, but just wanted to be sure."
Draco didn't say anything to that as he followed his godfather through the shadows towards the Dursley home. Draco had always been under the impression that when Harry Potter went home for the holidays that he would be returning to some mansion where he would be waited on hand and foot, getting anything he asked for, and being pampered as the savior of the Wizarding World. Severus was under the same impression, which is most of the reason he believed the young Potter to be as conceited as James Potter.
Draco was pulled out of his thoughts when Severus suddenly stopped. Draco looked up to spy a simple two story house with lights glaring brightly out of the windows at them.
"Is this it?" Draco asked incredulously. "This doesn't look like a mansion, Uncle Sev."
"According to Dumbledore's directions, this is Potter's home. Number 4 Privet Drive. I must admit that this is not what I was expecting."
Before Draco could reply to that he and Severus heard muffled yells that seemed to come from upstairs; from a room. A room that had bars in front of the window. His hand went back up to his chest again. That painful ache was back and tenfold. Draco's breath caught in his throat.
"What are bars doing on the window?" he wondered aloud, hiding the internal apprehension. "Are they keeping somebody captive?"
"Don't be ridiculous, Draco. Come, let's get this over with."
So Draco and Severus made their way to the front door, the shouting getting louder. Severus started to get a horrid feeling when he realized Harry Potter wasn't the one doing the shouting. They stood at the door a moment, listening.
" ….you FREAK! You should be….don't throw your worthless self out!…this is the least I should be able to do….Boy! Do you hear me?" Just then it sounded like something had taken a long tumbling fall.
"You're like him, aren't you?" a fearful voice asked suddenly beside them. Draco jumped to the other side of his godfather, but Severus merely raised an eyebrow as he peered at the boy hiding in the bushes beside the door stoop.
"Are we like whom?"
"Harry. You should get him out. My father has gone too far. I...I think he's finally snapped!"
"What?" Severus blinked; not once but three times at Dudley Dursley. The boy seemed to gather his courage and stepped out of the bush.
"Dad is killing Harry! That's why you're here, isn't it? To save the freak?" Draco stood staring wide eyed at Harry's cousin by the end, but Severus had already flung open the door after the end of Dudley's first sentence and barged into the house. The sight that met their eyes was one they would not forget for a very long time.
It was obvious Harry Potter had just fallen down the stairs that faced the front door. Whether he had fallen or been pushed, Draco nor Severus could be sure, but the boy was laying on his back with his legs and lower back still on the stairs and his upper torso laying twisted on the floor. Potter was lying there, covered in blood and cuts, staring with glazed eyes up at his purple-faced uncle, who was screaming at the boy at the top of his lungs.
". …Stupid boy! You're worthless, a waste of space and air! You… Don't…. Deserve…To…. Live!" Vernon Dursley punctuated every word with a kick to Harry's side. Petunia Dursley ran to her husband and grabbed his arm, trying to pull him away from her nephew.
"Vernon, stop! Please! YOU'RE KILLING HIM! Stop!" But her husband shoved her away.
"He's a freak, Petunia! The only thing he will ever deserve is pain and death. Isn't that what you bring to others, boy? Anything bad that can happen will happen when you're near! I'm going to do the world a favor and relieve it of the filth that is this FREAK!" Vernon raised his fat foot over Harry's head, and by this time Draco could see that Potter had lost consciousness. And Draco thought that was a good thing, because he couldn't believe what Harry's uncle was saying to his nephew, and he was glad that Harry couldn't hear it, though he suspected Harry had heard it all before. He was also glad relieve Potter was unconscious so that he wasn't feeling much of the pain, which Draco was sure he would be feeling.
Draco had a split second before he moved. In that moment, he watched as Harry's uncle raised his foot. In that moment, an insane feeling of panic and coldness captured him and that ache in his chest swelled to encompass his entire body. Somehow he knew that if Potter were to die, then he himself would be forever changed; he would be forever lacking…something. And in that moment, all of the bad history, all the jealousy and any animosity they held between each other seemed to just vanish for Draco, and he felt a sickening rage as he stared at the state of his fellow classmate.
"STUPIFY!" he shouted, wand pointed at the fat Dursley and sending the man tumbling into the opposite wall, creating fissures along the plaster.
"Draco!" Severus yelled, astonished that his godson would use a spell against a muggle, in front of him, even if said muggle deserved it and more. But Draco ignored him and quickly made his way over to Potter and knelt beside the unconscious boy.
"Potter? Hey, you better not be dead, Potter! If someone is going to kill you it's going to be me."
Severus came to kneel beside him and brandished his wand over Harry. "His spine is intact, and his neck is not broken, thank Merlin. But his right leg is broken and his arm is sprained. He has a few broken ribs, a punctured lung, and internal bleeding." The grown wizard observed; his anger and rage oozing out of every pore.
Draco looked down at Harry, horrified of his condition. He felt helpless. His hands hovered over the broken boy, wishing to do something but not knowing what to do. It was odd. He couldn't think straight at the moment, seeing Potter lying like this. All he knew was that they had to save Potter. So much more depended on Harry living than just the Wizarding World.
"Sev? Sev, what do I do?"
"Here, Draco. If you could please administer these to him." Severus pulled out several vials of potions and thrust them into the shaking hands of his godson. "I assume you know how to give potions to an unconscious person?"
"Yes, sir." Draco said, taking the potions into his hands.
"W-Wait! You might hurt him further." Petunia suddenly said from the corner where she and her whale child were huddled together. Severus turned around and pierced her with one of his worst glares.
"And what would you know about it, muggle?"
"Because I suspect Vernon poisoned the boy."
"What?" the acid clearly dripped from the Potion Master's voice.
"Ha…Harry, he was acting strange after dinner." Dudley piped in. "He was acting like he was drunk, or on drugs, and even though I tell other people that he does stuff like that, I know he doesn't do that kind of thing."
"What did the muggle give to Potter?" Severus asked, but the woman and her son shook their heads. They didn't know.
Severus growled and advanced upon the unconscious Vernon Dursley. As he crossed the hallway, he noticed the door to the closet under the stairs was opened and he looked in just as he was passing. He suddenly stopped, his eyes widening. There was a small cot fixed there, as well as Harry's trunk, and his owl cage. It took him no more than a few seconds to guess that this is where the boy was kept during the summer holidays. There was dried blood on the ground and upon that small bed and Severus felt his blood boil.
He advanced towards Dursley and raised his wand to the muggle's face. "Rennervate," he muttered darkly, and watched the fat man's eyes open. Severus arm shot out like a snake attacking and curled his hand around Dursley's throat, his thumb pressing hard against the Adam's apple. "What did you give the boy?" His nose was nearly touching Vernon's, and his wand was embedded deeply into the other man's chest.
Draco moved his eyes away from his godfather, knowing that Severus would get the information he required. He moved around till he was kneeling at Harry's head and then slowly raised the unconscious teen's head till it was resting in his lap. "Potter?" He moved his fingers through the thick silky ebony hair. If he were truly honest with himself, he would have admitted that he'd always wanted to run his fingers through Harry's thick disorderly locks.
Harry's head started to move back and forth, and he groaned and started to shake. Draco stilled his hands. "Potter? Can you open your eyes?"
"No, I'm sorry…I know I deserve it, but please…. stop hitting me." Harry was clearly trapped in his mind, in his pain.
Draco growled deep in his throat, and glared at Harry's relatives. "No one deserves to be treated this way! Especially not Harry Potter! Do you know who this boy is?" he yelled, still cradling Harry's head in his lap. "He is the Savior of the Wizarding World! He is the only one who can save us!"
"That has nothing to do with us, boy!" Vernon yelled back at Draco. "What do we care if your world crumbles? We would be blessed if all of you FREAKS were to disappear!"
Draco was just about to say something else, when he was cut off by the most unlikely voice. "No, Vernon." Petunia Dursley said, pulling herself away from the corner to stand somewhat meekly beside Severus to glare at her husband. "If Harry doesn't win this war with their Dark Lord, our world will crumble too! We would be living in total hell!"
Vernon's face, if possible, turned an even darker purple in his rage, and he growled, "what did you say, Petunia?"
Petunia said nothing at first and only continued to stare at her toes. But then she squared her shoulders and raised her head, her eyes filled with determination and grim acceptance. "I said no. Removing Harry and his kind will never make anything better. And…And I wish I could have been stronger for Harry, instead of listening to you, but I hated Lily, I was so jealous, and I let that be my excuse for verbally abusing Harry and allowing you to beat him. But tonight you've gone too far! I don't want your twisted hatred for anything different to taint our son anymore! And I don't want the boy hurt anymore! He's never deserved it!"
Vernon stared at his wife incredulously for a few moments, and then he swung his arm around and backhanded her. She was so shocked that she lost her balance and fell.
"Mum!" Dudley ran to Petunia and cowered there beside her, looking at his father as if he'd never seen the man before.
"You're my wife! How dare you decide to side with that boy! They're all freaks; and that boy is the biggest freak of them all!"
"ENOUGH!" Snape yelled into Vernon's face. He raised his wand at the man's forehead and barked, "Legilimens." Severus searched through the horrid muggle's memories to identify what he had given to Harry. After a minute, he found it, pulled out of Vernon's mind, making sure to make the process as painful as possible and then turned and instructed Petunia to retrieve the poison.
Draco had gone back to staring at Harry's face. Potter was still groaning in pain, eyes clenched tightly shut against it. Draco couldn't help himself and he immediately placed a cool hand across Harry's forehead and the other over Harry's heart. Immediately he was seized with great pain, exploding in his right leg and arm. His chest tightened in agonizing pain as he tried to draw in a breath. Beneath his hands, Harry's breathing became a little less erratic and his eyes fluttered open. Draco snatched his hands away and both he and Potter gasped at the reaction. The pain left his own body and Potter clenched his jaw tightly as the pain returned to him.
Draco sat in shock for a moment, trying to regain his breath before his mind could comprehend what had just happened. And then he realized what had occurred. He didn't understand why or how, but he realized that when he touched Harry he had taken some of the pain away and into himself. Once he realized this, before he could think to ask himself why he was doing it, Draco returned his hands to where they had been and clenched his jaw shut against the onslaught of the pain.
Draco's eyes popped open and he stared down into the pain filled emerald gaze.
"What are you doing? What… How did you get here?"
Draco smirked despite the situation. "Calm down, Potter. We've come to help you."
Harry looked away and shut his eyes. "You should get away from me. Anyone who tries to help me usually ends up very hurt or dead. Uncle Vernon is right. I don't deserve any help. I… I don't deserve to be alive." That's why my friends hate me now, Harry thought. That's why they've all turned their backs on me.
"You're an even bigger idiot than I thought you were if you actually believe anything that muggle says to you!" He glared at Harry when the boy opened his eyes wide in shock. "Shut up! You're going to annoy me!" he said when he saw that Harry was about to say something.
He could see Harry was surprised by the lack of venom that had always accompanied his words when the two were together. But then Harry's eyes softened and he actually smiled. But it didn't last long, however, because then Harry started to shudder, then cough, and blood started dribbling down his chin.
"Severus!" Draco cried out in shock.
Professor Snape rushed to his side in an instant. He cursed when he saw the state Harry was in. "We need to get him to Poppy immediately. Here, woman! Come here, and bring your…son," Severus called to the weeping woman on the floor. He stared at the slumped body of Vernon; he had of course stupefied the man. He was glad that he had thought to bring two portkeys instead of just the one to Hogwarts, as the muggles wouldn't have been able to enter the school.
Draco saw his godfather cast the Patronus spell and watched the beautiful white glowing doe canter away through a window. He assumed his godfather had just sent a message, requesting help for Harry, and then he pulled out a large button and held it out. "Draco, help Mr. Potter touch the Portkey. Petunia, you and your son place a finger on the button." Once everyone was touching a part of the button, Severus pointed his wand at the Portkey and breathed, "portus."
Instantly, they all felt a sharp tug behind their naval, and were being pulled into a void, twisting and turning in a cold black nothingness. Draco held onto Potter as tightly as he could without causing further injury and was glad when they landed he was beneath the Gryffindor to cushion the fall. And even though Draco was cushioning the fall, it jarred Harry so much that he couldn't help but cry out in pain and Draco instantly placed his hands back over the boy's heart and forehead to relieve him of some of the pain. He didn't even let go when the pain made Draco feel so sick that he thought he might retch. He just held on, and was glad he could help with Harry's pain.
"Severus, where are we?" he asked, looking around. They'd arrived outside on a dark street in front of a row of tall houses pressed together.
"Welcome to Number 12, Mr. Malfoy, Mrs. Dursley, and Mr. Dursley." Draco looked over and narrowed his eyes when he saw Dumbledore quickly walking their way, with a bustling mediwitch behind him. When Dumbledore stopped in front of them, he gave out for slips of parchment to Draco and the Dursleys. "Please read what is on the parchment."
"Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place," Draco read as the other two did, and suddenly another house sprang up in between two others. Draco ignored the gasp from the two muggles and stared blinkingly at it. "Grimmauld Place? This is a Black residence!"
"Quickly, Madam Pomfrey! Potter doesn't have much time," Severus intoned urgently. And the small group hurried to get across the road and into the house.
"But…But, I…" Harry tried to talk, but couldn't stop coughing and Draco cringed when more blood came pouring out of his mouth. "I don't feel that much pain. It's not that bad," Harry insisted.
Draco couldn't help himself and he snorted. But then his amusement died when he caught Dumbledore staring at him with that damn twinkle in his deep blue eyes. Draco narrowed his eyes at the Headmaster, wondering what in the bloody hell was so amusing with the situation that would have the Headmaster twinkling merrily. Not to mention the man's expression made the hairs on his arms raise on end. He didn't trust Dumbledore, not one bit.
Draco didn't ponder long, because now they were levitating Harry to a conjured stretcher, and he was afraid to let go of the other boy. But he really had no choice as the stretcher was being towed upstairs. He was relieved to see that when he released him, Harry didn't seem to gain back the pain Draco had taken.
"Draco, stay with the Dursleys. We'll be down after we've seen to Potter," Severus told him.
Draco nodded and watched as they disappeared up the stairs, and he heard Madam Pomfrey's worried voice carry down to him. "What has happened to this poor child?" he didn't hear the answer, but it didn't matter because he already knew the answer.
Draco turned on his heels and stared at Potter's relatives, his face emotionless, but his eyes blazing coldly at them. "Follow me." He turned and led them to the first room he found, a parlor he had seen that was off of the entrance hall. There they sat in complete silence, staring at each other, until Dudley worked up the courage to break it.
"Um…Er…" he began. Draco raised one elegantly sculpted eyebrow. "Are you a friend of Harry's?"
Draco smiled a smile that wasn't warm at all. "No. We've never been friends. In fact we've hated each other. People consider us enemies." This seemed to surprise the two muggles.
"It certainly didn't look as if you were enemies. You were taking care of him," Petunia pointed out.
"Regardless of what you think, we do take care of our own." And then he smiled; he allowed his facial features to soften as he slowly pulled out his wand, caressing it gently between his fingers. "So," he began and looked at Dudley. The fat blob visibly gulped and Petunia put her skinny arm around as much of her son as she could as she stared fearfully at the wand, then at Draco's face. "Did you ever hit Potter? I advise you to tell the truth because I'll know if you lie."
"Erm…yeah, but it was all in good fun," Dudley whispered.
The smile disappeared from Draco's face. "I see." His deadly calm reply could have frozen the Great Lake at Hogwarts within a second.
"Please don't punish my son. He didn't know any better. I should have intervened when he started to take after his father, but as I said before, I wasn't strong enough to see the wrong, until now."
"Does Potter get beaten and verbally abused by you lot often?"
"Yes." Petunia answered, staring right back at him. Her eyes spoke of her shame, but Draco felt nothing but rage towards the two muggles.
"For how long?" he asked slowly.
Petunia closed her eyes and took a deep breath and her eyes started to water, but Draco ignored that and waited for her answer. "Ever since he was dropped on our doorstep. When he was one."
"And that cupboard under the stairs?"
"That is his bedroom. Vernon moved him back to the cupboard when he returned this year," she whispered. Draco slowly stood up and pointed his wand at the two shaking Dursleys.
"I should kill you both for what you've done to him."
"But you don't even like him!" Dudley cried, springing to his feet to stand in front of his mother. Draco stared at him for a moment, trying to regain the control on his emotions. He was sure that if he spoke a spell, it would probably be the killing curse. He didn't understand where the huge amount of pain and rage was coming from. Sure he could understand being upset about all of this, but what he was feeling now was way beyond that. But what he did know what that he wanted to hurt Harry's relatives for abusing him. He just knew that he had to do something, so instead of using his wand, Draco took the more hands on approach and slugged Dursley in his fat face as hard as he could, smiling when he heard the cartilage break in the boys nose and watched him fall back onto his mother. Then he smirked and stalked out of the room. He'd be damned if he was going to stay in their presence for even a second more.