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The Trick Is to Keep Breathing

Chapter Text

11 May 2001

Draco lay on the couch in Ginny's flat, enjoying some much-needed downtime.  They'd driven up to the seaside cottage for a few days—ever since Draco had discovered that riding in his somewhat illegally modified convertible was as good as foreplay for Ginny he took her driving whenever he was in town, even though, as wizards, they had much more convenient means of transportation at their disposal.  The rest of the mini-break was fantastic, too, and Draco was hopeful that they were back on track after that blistering "I'm not Narcissa" battle at New Year's.  Ginny had enjoyed the car and the cottage without comment on either his family's wealth or her family's lack thereof, which seemed like a good sign.

But this morning it was back-to-work, and Ginny had gone to her job as an entertainment editor at Witch's Weekly, leaving Draco to his business, which consisted less of reading the dossier in his lap and more of munching on some Hob Nobs while listening to his aunt Andromeda's cooking show on the WWN. Not that his new assignment was dull—it was actually rather intriguing, and May was a nice time to be in Italy.  But it wasn't his case, which was getting colder by the day.  Pansy didn't seem as frustrated as he was, which was in itself frustrating, but damn it all, if someone was going to run about stirring all the old feuds up again he was bloody well going to find them.

Ginny's sudden reappearance startled Draco. He turned off the wireless and sat up. "Did you miss me so much you decided to skip work?" he asked, grinning.

Ginny thumped down on the couch and handed a folder to Draco. "Witch's Weekly is publishing this next week. We have 72 hours."

He raised his eyebrows at Ginny's silence, then began to go through a rough edit copy of a story, with accompanying photographs.  "You're really going to print this?" he asked.

"If we don't, the DP will," Ginny answered. "They aren't rumors. There are plenty of people willing to go on the record on this one. And the jilted girlfriend checks out. She'll get her story out through someone."

After a moment, he said, "Gin, when's the last time you saw Harry?"

"We had lunch about a week ago," she whispered, staring into space.

"Did you notice if he was agitated, or light-headed? Trouble concentrating?"

Ginny thought for a moment. "Come to think of it, the conversation did meander all over the place. And as soon as he came into the restaurant, he wanted to sit down. He said he was tired."

Draco nodded. "Anything wrong with his hands?"

"I noticed that the tips of his fingers were a little bit black, but I figured that was just ink. Why? What are you getting at, Draco?"

Draco took Ginny's hand and looked her in the eyes. "This is very important, Ginny. Did Harry apparate to the restaurant, or did he fly there?"

"He flew. He flies everyplace. He's always got a broom with him, all the time. What is this, Draco? What is going on with Harry?" Ginny was feeling even more worried than when she had read the article.

But Draco wasn't answering Ginny; instead, he threw a handful of powder into the fireplace and shouted, "Seamus Finnigan, Corfu."

After a few moments, Ginny saw Seamus' face appear. "Draco? What's going on?"

"Witch's Weekly is about to publish an expose on Harry."

Seamus' eyes widened. "What has he been up to?"

Draco waved a hand dismissively. "Parties, girls, the usual Quidditch star nonsense. Though lately he's been creating a few public scenes when he doesn't get his way. Threw a chair into a koi pond in a sushi place last week."

Seamus frowned. "That doesn't exactly sound like Harry, playing the arrogant star."

Draco continued. "One of his ex-girlfriends is talking about some unusual flying habits of his."

"He does like to use his broom all the time," Seamus said. "Ever since the war anyway. But Oliver is like that, too, when he doesn't have the kids. Isn't that just a Quidditch player thing?"

"Ginny says that the last time she saw him, he was having trouble concentrating and his fingertips were blackened."

"Oh, God, Icarus?" Seamus asked.

"I wanted to check with you, see if there was something else it could be."

Seamus shook his head. "Probably not. Definitely the top warning sign that things have gone too far. He must have declined quite a bit since he was here for the Euro Cup, but that was almost a year ago now."

Ginny said, "What is going on?"

"Hold on, Gin, I promise I'll explain in a minute," Draco said. Then he turned back to Seamus. "What should we do next?"

"Hold on a minute; I'll get you a name." Seamus' head vanished from the fireplace.

Ginny got off the couch and sat on the floor next to Draco, wrapping her arms around his waist. Icarus? Ginny searched her brain for where she had heard that term before.

Seamus reappeared. "You'll want Marc Samuelson at St. Mungo's. Hermione and I will be on the next portkey from Athens, and we'll contact you as soon as we've arrived."

Draco nodded. "Thanks, Seamus. This Samuelson, he'll be discreet?"

"Well, you haven't heard of him, have you?" Seamus replied.

"Good point. Right, we'll talk to you as soon as you're in London, then."

Seamus nodded and then his head disappeared from the fireplace.

Draco hugged Ginny tighter, then let go and stood, pulling Ginny to her feet. "Come on.  We don't have a lot of time."

"But aren't you supposed to meet Pansy for lunch today?"

"Damn," Draco said.  "Well, I'll send her a note, she'll have to understand."

Ginny raised one eyebrow.

"I know, I know.  Thanks for reminding me, at least.  I owe you one."

"I'll collect later."

Back in Corfu, Hermione wandered into the living room of the bungalow she shared with Seamus. "Who were you talking to?"

"Draco. Pack a bag. We're leaving for London as soon as possible." Seamus walked into his bedroom, and Hermione followed.

"Why?  What's going on?" she asked.

"Harry. He's gone Icarus. We need to be there for the intervention." Seamus was rummaging through some of the mediwizard books on his shelf, throwing them into his bag along with a few clothes.

Hermione was confused. "Icarus? What is that?"

Seamus stopped for a moment. "Sorry, I thought you might have come across it. Icarus Syndrome. Named for the myth. Can happen to people who spend a lot of time flying on broomsticks. Seekers are particularly susceptible to it; Hooch makes sure to warn them particularly, which is probably why it was Draco who put the pieces together. You fly up, extremely high into the air. The lack of oxygen gives you a high. It's very addictive, even fatal if you're not careful. Oxygen deprivation leads to very bad judgment—you think you're fine, perfectly in control, until it's too late."

Hermione tried to remember what she had overheard of Seamus' conversation. "So lightheadedness and an inability to concentrate are signs of oxygen deprivation?" she asked.

Seamus nodded. "And the black fingertips are signs of frostbite. Very cold temperatures in the upper atmosphere."

"But then doesn't that mean the flesh is dead?" Hermione asked.

"We can just take a potion to reconstruct the flesh—he's probably making it himself—but the blackness lingers.  Most wizards would just see it as ink stains, but I'd bet that he's been hiding his hands from his team's mediwizards, because they'd spot it immediately.  If he's starting to get frostbitten, he's definitely lost his sense of boundaries. The more you do it, the more arrogant you become, and the more arrogant, the more chances you'll take."

"Oh, Seamus," she said, "when he was here, last summer, his finger tips … if I'd known …"

Seamus took Hermione by the shoulders. "Spotting Icarus is not your job, nor is taking care of Harry.  He's an adult.  Now, go pack. We don't have a lot of time."  As she walked out he called over his shoulder, "And don't brood over this!"

Later that morning, Sirius Black, Ron Weasley, and Oliver Wood sat with Ginny and Draco in Marc Samuelson's office at St. Mungos. "I'll guide the progress of the intervention. If he agrees, I'd recommend McCormack Centre for the inpatient treatment—and for outpatient, I know an excellent addiction specialist near Salem, and I recommend he go there."

"The States?" Sirius objected. "Isn't there something closer to home?"

Dr. Samuelson shook his head. "Mr. Potter needs to recover in relative anonymity. Americans have heard of his heroism, but they probably won't know him on sight. And they don't follow Quidditch whatsoever. It will be the best place for him. Erika Weitz is the top expert on Icarus Syndrome."

Draco turned to Sirius.  "What about Larkspur Cottage?"

Sirius nodded.  "That would do, actually."

Oliver sank his head into his hands. "Why didn't I see this coming?  Or notice how he was hiding his hands from me?"

Sirius put a hand on Oliver's back. "He's been smart. Pulling away from everyone just enough, saying that he was busy or tired. He assumed we wouldn't compare notes, and we didn't."

Parvati and Dean were sitting in his flat having a late breakfast and looking through some works he wasn't sure he would put in his final end-of-art-school show. With Seamus in Greece and Lavender gone, the two had become even closer than they had been at school, and Dean relied on her taste as he always had on Seamus's. Parvati came to him with her romantic disasters—she had a penchant for bad girls—and, shyly at first, with her fashion sketches. Dean thought the clothes she created and sewed for herself were as good as, and sometimes better than, the clothes she was paid to model.

Today they were also giggling about the behavior of a photographer they both knew, a fellow at Dean's school who had used Parvati as a model a few times when she was first starting out.  Now that he could no longer afford her, he led others to believe that he'd discovered her, when he wasn't even a fashion photographer.  But one photo or another from the two shoots they'd done nearly three years ago could always be found in his portfolio.  Dean found him idiotic, pretentious and snobby without the eye or the skill to back up his wild statements, and was more than happy to bring Parvati to the show, which he was sure would completely nonplus the photographer. 

Then Seamus's head very suddenly appeared in the fireplace, and immediately started talking.

"Glad you're home," he said.

"Yeah, what's going on?" Dean asked, sobering very quickly.

"Something's up with Harry," Seamus replied.  "Don't wanna say too much more—you'll find out about it soon—but I'll be home this afternoon. Wanted to not just show up on your doorstep."

"Thanks, but you don't need to warn me."

Seamus shrugged.  "Seems polite."

"But what is the problem, Seamus?" Parvati asked.

Seamus leaned forward, as if to whisper.  "Icarus," he said.  "Just look it up, you'll find it.  And then find Draco; he's probably trying to get hold of you anyway."  He squinted and then said, "Say, is that the work for your show?"


"Well, one thing, it'll be nice to be able to see that, you know, before it goes up."

"Yeah, yeah, that will be good," Dean replied, a bit absently.

"Unless you don't want me to, of course," Seamus added.

"No!  No, of course, I'd love your input," Dean said quickly.  "C'mon, Shay, I always do."

"Sorry," Seamus said.  "It's just, it's going to be a stressful few days, and exams, and —"

"Seamus," Dean said.  "You're fine."

Seamus held Dean's gaze for a long moment.  "Yeah.  So are you."


"Okay, we need to go. I'll see you in a few hours.  Love you."

"Love you, too," Dean said, and Seamus's head vanished from the fireplace.

"Let's see," Dean said, wandering over to the bookcase.  "This should be it."  He handed Parvati a slim volume.  "You find 'Icarus", while I tidy up and put some clean sheets on the bed."

Parvati watched Dean climb up the stairs to his bedroom, her brows knit in thought.  Odd, how one word from Seamus and Dean's entire demeanor changed.  Well, that was love, she supposed.

Ron returned home, deep in thought, or really, trying not to think.  That had very much not been a meeting he'd wanted to attend.

Padma, damn her, was sitting in the front room, guitar in her lap, working on something or other.  "Bit early for lunch," she said, not looking up.

"Yeah, er, not here for lunch.  Just got back from St. Mungo's."

"What?" Padma said, setting the guitar down and jumping to her feet.  "Are you—"

"Wasn't about me," he said, pulling a butterbeer out of the cooling cabinet.

Padma crossed her arms.  "What's he done now?" she asked, coldly.

"Nothing new," Ron said.  "Apparently threw a chair into a lake at some restaurant last week?"

Padma winced, but said nothing.

"Anyway some journo got hold of it—"

"That was just a matter of time."

"—and now we have less than 72 hours to get him to the McCormack Centre before it's all over the front page of Witch's Weekly."


"Well, I mean, it's not her story—"

"Of course not.  How could she know since you didn't tell her?"

"Padma, I—"

"Do they know about the airplane?" she asked.

"Yeah, but I don't think they can tie it back to me," he said.  "Or at least, the only one who can is Kingsley, and I doubt he'd think to."

She sighed.  "It was bound to come to this."

"Yeah," Ron said, taking another long swallow.  "Wish it hadn't."

"You tried.  A bit too hard, actually."

"Padma, I can't.  Not now."

"I just don't like how he's treated you."

"Oh, I got that loud and clear."

"Because you're my lookout."

"Yeah, well, he's mine," Ron said, slamming the bottle down on the counter.

"Not any more he isn't," Padma replied.  "Maybe never should have been.  Not like this."

"Well, this is how it is," Ron said.  "Are you even interested in helping him?"

"Of course I am. How could you ask that?"

"Well, you don't seem to like it when I—"

"Because that wasn't bloody helping him, now was it?" she shouted.

"NO.  No it wasn't.  Happy now?"

Padma swallowed, hard.  "No."  She walked toward Ron.  "What's to be done now?" she asked.

"Meeting, intervention thingy, something.  Get him into McCormack.  After that he's supposed to go to the States for a while, get himself straight."

"And you're thinking of going with him, aren't you?" she asked.

"Someone will have to."

"And you can't see how very much it can't be you?"

"What, you mean because I've already failed him?" he asked.

"Oh, Ron, no," she said, putting a hand on his shoulder.  "Your shift is over, is what I mean.  You've done enough."

Ron turned to her then.  "Padma," he said, and then stopped.

"Oh, sweetheart," she said, pulling him into her arms.  After a moment, he slid down to his knees on the kitchen floor, wrapping his arms around her waist and pressing his cheek to her waist.  "It's okay," she said, rocking him slightly, feeling the wetness against her stomach.

Pansy was quite put out.  She had been looking forward to her lunch and now Draco had fucked off to hold the hand of Harry Potter for some mysterious reason and she had reservations that were going to go to waste.  Really, she couldn't just bring Queenie to a restaurant like Mooncalf, and it would have been so good for her and Draco's cover, too.  Not that they really needed one of late, but any excuse to get her best friend to herself was welcome.  She liked Ginny just fine, but she also liked seeing Draco alone from time to time; without his girlfriend around he was infinitely bitchier.  Besides, she had a new suit she wanted to show off; she adored the grey wool trousers with their tiny blue pinstripe, and she'd finally found someone who could make shirts that fit without looking like blouses.

She looked up, and coming toward her was a girl who would absolutely fit the bill, in terms of a luncheon date.  She was beautiful, interesting, knew which fork to use when, they had plenty of things in common including fashion, and they'd probably get their picture in the paper.  And the frock she was wearing was the perfect thing this spring, a tiny flower print with a handkerchief hem that she'd no doubt picked up on some photo shoot or another, and her long straight hair flowed out behind her, feminine and lovely. 

Too bad she was a dreary Gryffindor who'd pretty much hated Pansy since they were five.

"Waiting for a bus, Parkinson?" Parvati asked.

Pansy scowled.  Really, she was so tall already; why the heels?  Must she tower?  "Not that it's any of your business, but Draco was called away on urgent business, and now I have a much-coveted reservation and no one to take advantage who would truly appreciate the experience."

Patil didn't look surprised; apparently she knew of the Potter crisis du jour.  "That's very unfortunate.  They have what, a six month wait now I think.  My schedule is so uncertain that I haven't tried but I've heard very good things."

Pansy bit her lip, then thought, what the hell.  After all, they'd seen each other at parties over the past three years, since Pansy came back to England, and they'd managed to be civil, if a bit catty.  And catty was certainly better than boring, or eating alone.  "Look, Patil, if you're interested—I'm sure we can be civil for long enough to have lunch, if only out of respect for the food."

Patil cocked her head.  "I admit, I've been wanting to go here.  Well, I reckon I can behave like an adult if you can, Parkinson."

She nodded, and turned to walk into the restaurant, then paused.  "Er, I think—it would look better, anyway, if we called each other by our first names."

"Pansy," she said, rolling it around in her mouth like a sherbet lemon.  "All right."

"After you, Parvati," Pansy said, holding the door open.

Hermione and Seamus were met at the International Portkey Arrivals room by Percy Weasley around one that afternoon. "Everyone's at our place. You'll want your lunch. Are you up for Apparating?" Percy's words came at them in a rush. Hermione was worried already but seeing Percy in full officious mode made her stomach flip. She nodded slowly, and the next thing she knew she was in the kitchen of Percy and Oliver's small house.

Sirius stood immediately from the table and gathered her into an enormous hug. It wasn't until he let her go several minutes later that she was able to see who was gathered around the kitchen table: Remus, Ron, Padma, Oliver, George, Ginny, Draco and Dean. She nearly lost her composure when she saw all their somber faces but she managed to keep herself together, for Harry's sake. "So, what happens now?" she asked shakily as she sat down in an available chair.