Title: Invisible to the Naked Eye
Summary: Blinded in a surprise attack, Draco is learning to feel what he can’t see.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): None that I can think of.
Epilogue compliant? Immediately post-war, could be epilogue- compliant or not.
Word Count: 6,477
Author's Notes: eruditefics, you requested Harry saving a redemption-seeking Draco, hurt/comfort, and Ron as a good guy. I hope this is everything you were hoping for and more! Thanks go to my lovely beta for her efforts. Any remaining mistakes are, of course, my own.
Harry chewed his meatloaf mechanically. Dinner in the Great Hall was as it had always been. Conversations buzzed around him, but Harry wasn’t listening to anyone in particular. He felt warm. That was the best way to describe it—familiar, habitual, pleasant. It was their third week back at Hogwarts for their final year. There had been some debate surrounding the topic of Hogwarts and what to do with her students. In the end, it had been agreed upon by most that the quality of the curriculum the previous year had been dubious at best; thus, every student was to repeat his or her previous year. That meant that Harry, Ron, Hermione, and many others, had been given a second chance at their seventh year. Naturally, Hermione had jumped at the chance, and surprisingly, so had Harry and Ron.
For weeks after the Battle, Harry had been on edge, unsure of what his future held. He’d felt unready to follow any of the many career paths available to him and had found himself wishing he was somewhere else… somewhere far away where nobody expected anything of him. Then, in late July, he’d received a letter inviting him to attend Hogwarts with the other seventh-years. He’d felt himself relax then.
Another forkful of meatloaf poised to enter his mouth, Harry let his gaze wander the room—first to the far end of his own table where seventeen rambunctious first-years entertained each other by levitating their dinners. Harry couldn’t help but smile at the long-suffering looks on the faces of the first-years who were actually here for the second time. His gaze slid over to the Ravenclaw table, and though he couldn’t hear the words being spoken, it was comforting just to watch them and let his mind wander.
Soon his meatloaf had disappeared and he was scooping up a second helping. As he dug his fork in once more, he settled back in to continue observing his classmates. His eyes met Malfoy’s unexpectedly, and a jolt of something uncomfortable shot through his stomach at the look on Malfoy’s face. Empty… no, not empty. Almost blank, but there was something… It felt like the other boy was asking something, but Harry didn’t know what and didn’t know how to answer. Malfoy looked away, and it was as if the moment had never happened. Harry stared, willing the blond the look up again, but he didn’t. Harry’s eyes fell instead to his dinner, but he wasn’t quite as hungry as he had been.
Malfoy was a difficult subject to think about — because Harry didn’t know what to think. The days of despising the boy were long gone. Harry searched himself for the boiling anger that had accompanied thoughts of Malfoy for so many years, but it wasn’t there. When he thought of Malfoy, the image that came to mind — well, it wasn’t Malfoy’s pointy, sneering face, as it used to be. It was Malfoy sitting in the Great Hall with his parents, looking lost, looking small. He was reminded of the Malfoy who had cried in the girls’ bathroom, who had lowered his wand, who had pretended not to recognize Harry. He wondered what had happened to him since the Battle, how everything had gone over the summer. Harry hadn’t seen anything in the Prophet about Malfoy or his parents. He hoped Narcissa, at least, was well. Harry made a mental note to ask Hermione later if she’d heard anything.
Harry sighed and nodded to Ron. “Yeah.”
He noted that Ron had already finished what looked to be a large helping of cobbler. His friend wiped his mouth and took one last gulp of his pumpkin juice as he stood. Harry did the same and instinctively glanced at Hermione, only to find her in the midst of an animated discussion with Neville and Ginny.
“Hermione, we’re going.”
She waved him off without missing a beat in her description of Australia, and Harry smiled.
“Up for some chess?” Ron asked as they exited into the corridor.
Harry shrugged. “Sure.” That sounded better than his Transfiguration essay. Besides, he had a few more days before that would be due. He had the whole weekend actually… which reminded him—“Oh, I was going to go visit Teddy and Andromeda on Saturday. Want to come?”
“Of course!” Ron’s eyes lit up, and Harry grinned. He was Teddy’s godfather, but Ron had taken just as much of a shine to the little boy as anyone. Harry, who hadn’t ever had much experience with babies, loved to watch Ron toss Teddy into the air and catch him. The joyful giggles of his godson made Harry happy, and he was glad to know that the boy was surrounded by people who adored him.
“I was thinking was could stop by that new toy store in Hogsmeade and get him something.”
“Good idea,” Ron replied. “We’ll have to get it by Andromeda though.”
Harry chuckled, remembering the way the woman’s face had turned red when Harry had brought Teddy a toy racing broom.
“He’s not even crawling yet, Harry!”
“Well, long as we get him something that doesn’t fly —”
“Stop! Get off me. Someone — STOP!”
Harry turned a corner came face to face with a large huddle of what looked to be sixth- and seventh-years. They had someone Harry couldn’t see trapped against a wall and were taking turns kicking and punching him. Harry stood frozen in horror as the person howled in pain.
“That’s right, scream, you little fucker! Scream like my sister did!” The owner of the voice drew his fist back and launched it at the face of the boy they held. As it connected, the crowd parted enough for Harry to catch a glimpse of blond hair and sharp jaw. Malfoy. Harry saw red. He launched himself at full speed toward the group, firing curses, hexes, and Stunners indiscriminately.
Something hit the back of the large boy pinning Malfoy to the wall, knocking him out, and Harry was horrified to see Malfoy’s bloody form crumple to the ground now that he was unsupported. He felt rather than saw Ron kicking and shoving people out of the way as Harry tried to get to Malfoy.
Finally there were no more obstructions. He fell to his knees and tried to sit the boy up. It was like trying to lift a ragdoll, and Harry realized that Malfoy was unconscious. Harry took in his bloody skin, so pale underneath the red, and the monstrous gash that seemed to split his face in half, and felt a moment of blind terror that he was dead. “Don’t be dead, Malfoy. Don’t be dead. Don’t be dead.” He clutched Malfoy’s shoulders hard enough to bruise them.
“He’s not dead, Harry!” called Ron exasperated voice. “Look, he’s breathing. He’s just knocked out.”
Harry forced himself to exhale a shaky breath and, upon closer inspection, realized his friend was right. Malfoy’s chest was rising and falling. It was barely noticeable, but it was there. Harry relaxed slightly, but another look at Malfoy’s face made something sharp and urgent coil through his stomach.
“He needs Madam Pomfrey,” Harry managed to get out as he got to his feet, careful not to jostle Malfoy or let him fall back to the ground. Holding the other boy upright with one arm, he quickly cast a Levitation Charm and watched as it worked to raise Malfoy several feet off the ground. Harry was careful to keep a firm hold on his head and shoulders as he quickly made his way over the unconscious bodies of Malfoy’s attackers. Anger rose up in him, and he didn’t bother being careful with his feet as he walked.
“Keep them here,” he spat at Ron. “Don’t let any of them get away. This kind of shite is supposed to be over with.”
“Already on it, mate.” Ron stood with his wand poised and a hard look on his face, and Harry had no doubt that his friend had the situation well in hand.
Harry watched as Ron’s silver Jack Russell darted off down the corridor, no doubt in search of the Headmistress. The hospital wing, luckily, was not too far away, and Harry was able to get there quickly. He guided Malfoy carefully through the door and shouted, “Madam Pomfrey!” No sooner did he have the last syllable out than the woman appeared in the doorway of her office.
“Good heavens, bring him over here,” she said sharply, indicating the empty bed nearest Harry. “What happened this time?” She sent an accusing glare at Harry.
“It wasn’t me!” He guided Malfoy to the bed and made sure he was lying in place before gently releasing the charm. “We found a group of them beating him up on the second floor. They had him pinned against the wall, and they were… smashing his…” Harry couldn’t banish the image that flew into his mind — a fist connecting with the bridge of Malfoy’s nose — and he swallowed the lump in his throat as his stomach turned.
“You saw him hit? Where?” She began running diagnostic spells at once.
“His stomach… his mouth… his — everywhere. And between his eyes. His head bounced pretty hard against the wall on that last one. I think that’s what knocked him out.”
Madam Pomfrey nodded and continued her work. After a few silent minutes, Harry began to feel restless just standing there, but he didn’t want to move or say anything in case it would disrupt the healing. His stomach was unclenching a bit more with each spell that cleared up the blood and bruising on Malfoy’s face.
After several more minutes, Harry felt both relieved that the other boy looked much better, but worried that he was still unconscious. The worry overtook him.
“Is he going to be all right?”
Pomfrey glanced at him as she cast yet another healing spell. “I’m afraid I can’t discuss his condition with you, Mr. Potter.”
Frustration shot through him. “Just tell me if he’s going to wake up soon.”
The woman pursed her lips, and Harry tensed, sure he was going to be sent away, but after a moment, she answered, “I have tended to the damage that can be healed. He should come to soon enough.”
Harry released a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. But then her words caught with to him. “The damage that can… You mean —”
Any further ponderings were cut short as Malfoy let out a weak cough. “Ungh…” he groaned.
Before Harry could register what was happening, he was hit with what he recognized as a Silencing Charm. Harry rolled his eyes. Surely being Silenced was unnecessary, but as long as he wasn’t being kicked out, he wouldn’t fight the woman.
“Mr. Malfoy, can you understand me?”
Harry was relieved when Malfoy grimaced and gave the tiniest of nods.
“I have healed as much of the damage to your ribs as I could, and to your head, but you will be sore for several days yet.”
Malfoy opened his eyes and blinked several times, then sucked in a breath. “Why can’t I see?”
Harry wasn’t sure he’d heard right. Did he mean —? That would mean he was… was… He couldn’t be. Guilt flooded Harry, and he was powerless as it choked him. This was all his fault. He should have intervened sooner. He should have… He’d heard the mutterings over the last few weeks, heard all the whispers about revenge.
Some students blamed the Slytherins for everything that had happened, the friends and family they’d lost. Harry hadn’t argued with them. He hadn’t wanted to fight anymore… but he should have said something. He hadn’t thought anyone would actually act on their threats, and he hadn’t wanted to… to… but he should have, and now someone was hurt. Malfoy. Malfoy was… Malfoy, who was a git, but who had been dragged into this like everyone else, who had wanted his parents safe and who had lowered his wand and saved Harry…
Harry felt the blood drain from his head as he watched fear creep slowly onto Malfoy’s face. He sucked in a desperate breath and was glad Madam Pomfrey had had the forethought to Silence him. He was sure Malfoy would not want to know Harry was there. Yet he couldn’t make himself turn and leave. He knew he should, but he couldn’t. He stood helplessly, trying to keep himself breathing through the guilt that was choking him, and kept himself focused on Malfoy’s wide, panicked eyes.
“Draco, calm yourself… Hush, child.”
“I can’t see! I can’t see! I can’t —”
“I know. I know you can’t. Please calm yourself.” She grabbed his hand in her own and stroked his skin, and Harry could see she was trying to relax him, but he was beginning to hyperventilate. Tears spilled from the blond’s eyes, and Harry felt pain squeeze his heart. Each second that passed made him feel more an intruder, but still he could not make himself leave. Malfoy looked so afraid.
Harry did the only thing he could. He moved to other side of the bed and grasped Malfoy’s other hand. Malfoy gripped Harry’s fingers as if they were a life line, and Harry thought that maybe they were.
“Breathe, Draco. Listen to me. Listen. Relax your body.” Pomfrey kept her voice quiet and calm, and after several minutes, Malfoy’s breathing began to slow.
Harry watched as he closed his eyes and relaxed his hold on Harry’s fingers.
“Why can’t I see?” His voice was quiet, almost a whisper.
“You were hit very hard, my boy. Do you remember what happened?”
After a pause, Malfoy nodded. “There were so many of them. They took my wand, and I couldn’t… But… how did I get here?”
The woman met Harry’s eyes as she answered. “A student… intervened.”
Harry was suddenly very aware of his fingers still touching Malfoy’s. His first instinct was to pull them away, but he didn’t want to draw attention to himself. But Malfoy was sure to notice them. Harry held himself perfectly still, even held his breath, unsure of what to do.
After a moment, Madam Pomfrey spoke again, and Malfoy hadn’t seemed to make the connection between her last statement and the fact that there was more than one person touching him. Harry let out his breath as quietly as he could, but he was once again glad for the Silencing Charm.
“Mr. Malfoy, I wish I could tell you with absolute certainty that your eyesight will return.” Harry felt Malfoy tense and couldn’t help giving his hand what he hoped was a comforting squeeze. “It likely will. From what I can tell, one of the hits to your head was forceful enough and placed accurately enough to disconnect your optic nerve. I have cast the spell to reconnect the nerves, but it will be several days before we will know how successful the spell was.”
She was silent as she let her words sink in, and Harry watched Malfoy carefully as he processed the knowledge that he might not… Harry swallowed hard. He couldn’t even think it. It seemed as tragic to Harry as anything ever had. How many times had Harry thought that Malfoy deserved a swift punch to the face? He didn’t deserve this.
“You said it likely will return,” Malfoy said.
Madam Pomfrey nodded, then seemed to realize that nodding didn’t make a sound.
“Yes, Nerve Reconnection Spells do have a strong history of success, but… not every time.”
“How often?” It was delivered flatly.
She sighed. “Four times out of five, the connection is restored and the patient regains full mobility or, in a case like this, full use of their sight.”
“How often does something like this happen? With sight, I mean.”
The woman smiled. “Often enough that there is reason to hope, Mr. Malfoy.”
Malfoy released a shaky sigh but did not release his hold on Harry’s hand. Harry squeezed again, and this time he felt Malfoy squeeze back.
“Now, are you in any pain? I want you to be comfortable.”
“Just sore, like you said.”
She nodded again, then caught herself. “Of course. I can still get you something for that. And I will need to inform the Headmistress of your condition. She will contact your parents right away.”
“Yes,” whispered Malfoy in a choked voice that made Harry’s chest hurt. “I’d like to see them. I mean…”
Harry winced at the same time Malfoy did.
“Of course,” Pomfrey replied. “I’ll return shortly with something for your pain.” She gave Harry a measuring look and finally left him with an abrupt nod that Harry took as a warning, disappearing through her office door.
Silence filled the room, and Harry looked back to Malfoy. The blond’s eyes were closed as he inhaled and exhaled. His skin was so pale, Harry noticed, and the lines of his face created sharp, perfect angles. Harry couldn’t help thinking that when he wasn’t sneering, Malfoy was actually pleasant to look at. How had he never noticed before?
He was startled enough when Malfoy spoke that he jumped.
“Who are you?”
Harry waved his free hand and canceled the Silencing Spell, but remained silent for several moments, trying to think of how best to answer. In the end, he simply said, “It’s me, Malfoy.”
He watched as Malfoy opened his eyes and stared blankly at the ceiling.
“Potter. I should have known.”
Harry wasn’t sure what to make of that, but noticed that Malfoy did not pull his hand away.
“You’re the one who helped me?”
Harry nodded. “Yes. Ron and I saw them attacking you.” I wish we’d found you sooner. Harry wanted to say it, but he didn’t.
“Why would you help me?”
Hurt filled Harry, but he wasn’t sure if it was because it hurt that Malfoy would think that about him or because there was a time he might have had a point. He cleared his throat. “No one… you don’t deserve to be beaten like that, Malfoy. I might have thought you were a prat, but that doesn’t mean you should be hurt like that. Those guys… the ones who were attacking you… I’ve heard them talking before. They’re just angry. They’ve lost so much, and they want to be able to blame someone. You were —”
Malfoy pulled his hand away, and Harry’s fingers felt cold. “I was an easy target — is that it? Just the son of a Death Eater, right?”
“No! Malfoy, no. That’s not —”
“But it’s okay because they’ve lost —”
“No, it’s not okay. I wasn’t defending them, Malfoy. I was just telling you why you were attacked. I wasn’t excusing it!”
“Well, you know what, Potter? You didn’t need to explain anything. I know what they were saying. It’s not the first time they’ve tried to attack me. It was just the first time they caught me off guard.”
Malfoy’s tone was bitter, and Harry wasn’t sure how to respond. “I didn’t know.”
Malfoy snorted. “Would it have mattered if you had?”
“Right. I know what you think of me. You think I’m evil, think I’m a coward. You think I —”
“I don’t think that! And yes, I would have done something. I should have… I would have stopped them if I’d known —”
“Of course. Potter rides in to save the day. There’s only one problem with that picture. You’ve never bothered with Slytherins.”
“Really? How many times have I saved your worthless life, Malfoy?” Harry snapped, and then his brain caught up with his mouth. Wishing he could take back the last ten seconds, he watched hatred fill those grey eyes. “Malfoy, I —”
“Get the fuck out.”
“I didn’t mean it like that, Malfoy. I’m sorry —”
“Get out!” Malfoy shouted at him.
“I... I’m sorry…” Harry muttered again, and he meant it—for more than what he’d said. He stumbled backwards and retreated to the door, wishing he could take everything back and wipe the anguish, the fear and hatred, from the other boy’s face.
Madam Pomfrey hurried through her office door, took one look at the state of her patient, and glared at Harry.
Harry shook his head helplessly and turned to go. He paused in the doorway. “For what it’s worth, Malfoy, I want you to know that I don’t think you’re evil. I’ve seen evil. You’re not even close.” Harry didn’t wait around to see if Malfoy responded.
Harry lay in bed several hours later, wide awake and having made a mess of his bedding with his tossing and turning. He had replayed the events of the evening over and over in his mind since lying down over an hour ago. Everything, from the way Malfoy had looked at him during dinner, to seeing his body crumpled against the wall and thinking his was dead, to the tears on Malfoy’s face as he’d realized that he might never see again. His mind supplied images of Malfoy’s hate-filled eyes when Harry had said… what he’d said. And then later, learning that all the students involved in the attack had been sent home and were facing expulsion. He felt satisfaction at that and at the same felt guilty that it had ever gone so far… If he’d been less reluctant to address the problems that remained, this would probably never have happened. Students sent home and another beaten so badly he’d been… But most of all, he couldn’t stop picturing the fear, the pain, every emotion that had been so raw on Malfoy’s face.
He couldn’t imagine how the last weeks, months, must have been for him. Now that he thought back on it, it was obvious that not even the Slytherins were on his side. He could remember seeing dirty looks shot Malfoy’s way, even a jinx or two, from his own house. At the time, he’d just figured that Malfoy, unpleasant as he was, had probably insulted them or something… but now, Harry felt like an idiot.
He’d been so blind, happy to pretend that everyone was moving on, that things were back to normal. For Malfoy, there was no way to move on. His own house, those who were left, probably thought he’d betrayed them, and everyone else… Well, Malfoy was right. He was an easy target. In the eyes of many, he was the personification of the destruction of the last few years. It was easy to blame him. It wasn’t right, but it was easy.
It was this thought that brought Harry’s feet to the floor and made him pull on his clothes and Invisibility Cloak. Malfoy had spent enough time alone, and Harry had not given his all to defeat Voldemort so that more innocents could fall through the cracks.
The door to the infirmary was locked, but a whispered “Alohomora” took care of it. Harry’s eyes, already adjusted to the darkness, easily found Malfoy asleep in his bed. Harry quietly moved to the chair beside the head of the bed and sat, careful not to make a sound. He pushed his Cloak back over his head and felt it pool around his waist. Malfoy’s breathing was even, and Harry, without realizing it, matched the tempo as he watched the blond. He was pale in daylight, but in the moonlight, he seemed to glow, and Harry felt himself reaching out to trace the line of his jaw before he caught himself. The last thing he wanted to do was wake the other boy.
He wasn’t sure how long he sat there watching, but eventually he felt his eyelids grow heavy. It was as he was debating whether or not to head back to his dormitory or just pull his Cloak back on and let himself sleep for a few hours that Malfoy’s breathing hitched. Harry froze, afraid he’d woken the other boy up after all. But Malfoy’s eyes remained closed. He grimaced and let out a groan.
“No, please,” he muttered. “Don’t want to!” He began to shake and shiver, small movements that shoved his blankets around his waist. “I can’t! Please don’t make me —” His small movements turned into flailing, and before long, his hitched breaths became sobs. Tears rolled down his face, and sweat covered his bare chest.
Deciding not to think about what he was doing, Harry moved himself to the edge of the bed and grabbed hold of Malfoy’s hand. “Malfoy…” he whispered. “It’s okay, it’s just a dream.” Malfoy stopped muttering, but continued thrashing. Harry held him tight and stroked his face, pushing his hair back off his forehead.
“Malfoy… Malfoy… Draco… It’s okay. Wake up. It’s okay.”
Grey eyes opened wide, and Harry felt the body in his arms freeze. Not wanting to frighten him further, Harry continued to whisper softly. “It’s okay, Draco. It was just a dream. Shhh, you’re safe.”
Harry watched helplessly as boy’s face crumpled and he began to sob — sobs that quaked his whole body. Hands clutched at Harry’s shirt and held on for dear life, and Harry maneuvered himself to lie down next to Malfoy, pulling him against his body and letting him cry. He stroked his hair and whispered quietly to him as he sobbed.
“Everything’s dark… Hate the dark...”
“I know… It’ll be all right.”
How long he held him and how long he cried, Harry didn’t know. He wasn’t aware of Malfoy finally quieting and falling asleep, and he wasn’t aware of falling asleep himself. When he awoke in the early hours of the morning to find Malfoy draped all over him like a robe, he closed his eyes and sighed. He thought about trying to extricate himself before Malfoy woke — he couldn’t imagine Malfoy would take the situation well — but then he thought about the fact Malfoy wouldn’t know it was morning. He thought about what would have happened if Malfoy had surfaced from his nightmare to find himself alone and in darkness. He couldn’t leave Malfoy to face that. Harry swallowed the lump in his throat and held Malfoy just a little bit tighter.
“So you really are here.”
The quiet voice startled him, and he wondered how long Malfoy had been awake.
“I wondered if I’d dreamt it.”
Malfoy hadn’t told him to leave yet, and he relaxed a bit.
“I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I thought about you alone here, and I just… and then you were having a nightmare, and I…”
“That part I remember.” Harry felt Malfoy’s body shake against his and was startled to realize he was chuckling. “If you ever tell anyone I cried like that, Potter, I’ll—”
“Your secret’s safe with me.”
Harry closed his eyes, wondering what the protocol was for former enemies who suddenly found themselves cuddling. He was a bit beyond his depth here.
“Besides,” Malfoy said after a moment, “I wasn’t alone. My parents are here.”
“WHAT? Where?” Harry glanced frantically around the room, squinting at the chair on the far wall as if Lucius Malfoy was hiding behind it.
“Not here, you idiot. They’re in a room down the hall. They came last night just after you… er, left. They wanted to stay in here with me, at least Mum wanted to, but Pomfrey wouldn’t have it.”
“Ah.” Harry was silent for a while, content to just let his thoughts run together. “You’re lucky…” he finally said.
He saw Draco shoot a strange look in his general direction.
“I mean… to have parents who care about you so much.”
Malfoy was silent for a long while before he replied. “Your parents felt the same way about you, Potter.”
“Yeah, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have them there, around me, you know? Be able to touch them. I know they loved me, love me, but to have them there… that’s different.”
“Who’d have thought I’d have something the Boy-Who-Lived wanted?”
“You’d be surprised.”
A sound from the corridor reminded Harry rather suddenly of where he was and what he was doing, who he was… holding.
“I’d better get going.” He tried to sit up, and Malfoy moved away, giving him room to maneuver.
Harry took a moment to straighten his clothes and couldn’t help watching as Malfoy stretched his pale, lithe body. The blond’s muscles flexed as he yawned, and something warm flooded Harry’s stomach. Malfoy turned toward him, and Harry looked away quickly, afraid he’d been caught staring, then rolled his eyes at himself.
“Breakfast will be up soon. Do you want me to bring you anything?”
“I’m sure Pomfrey will take care of it, Potter,” Malfoy replied with a smirk.
Harry felt himself flush and was glad Malfoy couldn’t see it.
“Right. Then I’ll just… Do you need anything before I go?”
“Yeah, my shirt.”
Harry flushed again.
Harry snuck back into his dorm, relieved to find everyone still asleep, and headed off to the showers. His routine took a bit longer than usual, as he spent several minutes trying his best to avoid his erection and the thoughts of pale, soft skin that accompanied it before finally succumbing and stroking himself until he spilled down the drain, groaning and cursing under his breath. By the time he was dressed and ready for the day, breakfast was in full swing. Harry plopped himself down at the Gryffindor table, trying diligently not to think about the fact that he’d just wanked himself off over Malfoy.
“Didn’t see you this morning, mate. Wake up early?”
“Er, yeah. I went for a shower.”
“Right. And before that?”
Harry glanced at Ron and was met with a sharp glint in the redhead’s eye. He knew he’d been caught.
Harry sighed. “I went to sit with Malfoy.” Harry blushed, remembering those eyes staring up at him, inches from his face.
“I figured that’s where you’d gone. How is he?”
“He’s…” Harry cleared his throat. “He’s okay. As much as he can be.”
He’d told Ron about Malfoy’s condition last night. The same murderous glare filled his eyes now as it had then, and Harry knew his friend was thinking about the students who had attacked Malfoy. Harry had at first been surprised that Ron had reacted so strongly to the attack. Not that he thought Ron would have joined in or anything, but he knew Ron had as much reason to dislike Malfoy as anyone. He’d said this to Ron, and his friend had replied, “I would never wish something like that on someone like Malfoy. He’s a git, sure, but he’s not Voldemort.”
Harry couldn’t put into words how much it meant to him that his best friend was able to make that distinction.
Ron nodded to him, then scoffed and shook his head. “To think that he might never see again just because…”
“I told Hermione about everything last night. She said she’s heard of people recovering from injuries like this before. Said she’d check just to make sure. She’s probably in the library now.”
Harry chuckled. “She’s right. Madam Pomfrey told Malfoy the same thing.”
“I hope he’ll be okay.”
“I hope so, too.”
Harry debated all morning about whether he should go visit Malfoy again and, if so, how soon would be too soon. In the end, he decided that the cheesecake served with lunch was just too good to pass up. Malfoy would need a slice, and since Harry had a free period after lunch…
He rather forgot to take into account that in the light of the day, Malfoy’s parents would likely not be asleep in the room down the hall.
The scene as Harry walked through the infirmary doors should have been immortalized on film, Harry later reflected. Harry, holding a small plate in one hand and his book bag in the other, froze as Lucius Malfoy dropped off mid-sentence to glare at him. Narcissa raised a cool eyebrow at Harry, and the three of them stared at one another for Harry wasn’t sure how long before Draco spoke.
“What? What is it? Why is it so quiet?
“I… er... brought you cheesecake,” Harry answered.
If Harry hadn’t been watching, he might have missed the smile that threatened to quirk Malfoy’s lips before he schooled his features into a blank expression. “Oh, it’s you.” Malfoy cleared his throat. “Cheesecake, you say? You can bring it over here then. What kind is it?”
“I see. Well, it’s not my favorite, but it will do.”
“What is your favorite?”
“Ah.” Harry set the plate down next Malfoy. “The… er… fork’s on the plate with it.” The silence was crushing. “Right then. I’ll just be going. Enjoy your cheesecake, Malfoy.”
Harry was halfway out the door when Narcissa’s voice reached his ears. “I understand we have you to thank for our son’s safety, Mr. Potter.”
Harry felt himself redden as he turned and met her gaze. Studiously avoiding looking anywhere near Malfoy, Harry replied, “I just… brought him here. It was nothing.”
“It was enough.” She nodded to Harry, and he understood exactly what she meant.
He turned again and hurried out the door.
“Hmm. Son, why is Potter bringing you cheesecake?”
Harry sped up to a run.
Harry found himself wide awake once again, but this time it didn’t take long before he donned his pajamas and slippers and headed for the hospital wing. He decided not to think about the reasons why he shouldn’t. There were plenty of them, but there were more reasons why he should. At least it seemed that way to him.
After unlocking the door and closing it softly behind him, he made his way to the chair next to Malfoy’s bed.
“Thanks for the cheesecake.”
Harry froze, halfway to a sitting position. “You’re welcome.” He sat the rest of the way down and slipped off his Cloak. “How did you know it was me?”
Draco smirked. “Lucky guess.”
“Did I wake you?”
“No. I couldn’t sleep. It’s strange, not seeing anything. It’s hard to tell how much time has passed. I know it’s night, but… it’s just dark all the time. I can’t tell the difference.”
“I... I’m sure it will come back, Malfoy.”
“It has to. What would the world be like without you glaring at it?”
Harry smirked. “Malfoy… Draco. I’m sorry for what I said to you. Nothing about you is worthless. I’m sorry I said it, and I’m sorry for a lot of other things as well. I’m sorry I refused to shake your hand, although you were a stuck up little shit, and I’m sorry I threw mud at you. I’m sorry I never really gave you a chance, and I’m sorry I almost killed you.”
There. Harry had said it. Everything he’d been thinking. He held his breath and braced himself for Malfoy’s reaction.
“Well then. Apology accepted. I’m sorry I lied to you.”
“Lied to me… about what?”
“The cheesecake. Raspberry is my favorite.”
Harry threw back his head and laughed, harder than he had in a long time.
“Shhh, Potter! You’re going to wake Pomfrey!”
Harry quieted his snorts by covering his mouth and grinned even wider when he saw Malfoy trying not to laugh himself. “Ohh, I needed that.”
“Glad I could be of service.”
Harry snorted, just once more.
“I’m getting better at hearing what I can’t see.”
Harry felt the smile drain from his face. “What?”
“At least I think I am. When you laughed, I could see it in my mind. I could picture it. You asked how I knew it was you when you came in. It’s the way you drag your feet across the floor. You’re the only one I’ve heard who walks like that, at least so far.”
“What does everyone else walk like?”
“Pomfrey stomps, sort of. Quick, hard sounds. My father glides, kind of a sweeping sound, but soft. My mum I can barely hear; that’s how I know it’s her. And you, it sounds like you drag your feet, like they never leave the floor.”
“I never realized different walks made different sounds.”
“Neither did I. What if it doesn’t turn out okay, Potter? What if I stay this way? What then?”
“You’ll be fine. I’m sure of it.”
“What if you’re wrong?”
“I’m not wrong. You’ll be fine. You’ll see again… soon, I know it. But even if you don’t, you’ll still be fine. You’ll get even better at hearing and feeling what you can’t see, and you’ll be fine because you won’t be alone.”
“You can’t know that for certain.”
“Yes, I can.” Harry moved himself to sit on the edge of Malfoy’s bed and took his hand. “We’re friends now. It’s taken us this long. I’m not going anywhere now.” He squeezed Malfoy’s hand and felt him squeeze back. “Okay?”
“Okay,” Malfoy whispered back.
Harry gave a final squeeze before releasing Malfoy’s fingers and moving back to his chair.
“Wait. Don’t go.” He reached his hand toward Harry, and Harry knew what he meant.
He sat back down on the bed and pulled Malfoy’s hand into his own, stroking his fingers.
“It’s nice to touch someone. It makes it lighter, sort of. Like I’m not by myself.”
That made sense to Harry. Deciding not to think about why he was doing it or what it meant, he slid down next to Malfoy and pulled the covers over them both, then pulled Malfoy against his chest, making sure to run his fingers over the other boy’s neck, back, shoulders… face, hair, everything he could reach. Harry had felt alone for years of his life. He didn’t want Malfoy to feel alone.
“Does that feel okay?”
He felt the other boy shiver against him. “Yes.”
“Good. It’s night, Draco. Sleep.”
Harry continued his gentle touches until he felt Malfoy’s breathing become even and slow. And still he continued until the steady sounds and the warmth of Malfoy’s body next to his lulled him to sleep.
When he woke, it was to the feeling of gentle fingers running up and down his spine. It was one of the most comforting, relaxing sensations Harry had ever felt, and he didn’t want to open his eyes.
“That feels nice,” he mumbled.
“It does, doesn’t it?”
Harry opened his eyes and found himself drowning in grey. “Hi,” he whispered.
“Hi.” Draco smiled, and Harry felt his heart stutter. “Guess what?”
“What,” Harry replied.
“I can see you.”
Harry’s stomach jumped. “You mean —”
“That’s —” But what it was, Harry couldn’t really say, and it didn’t really matter because Draco’s lips were on his.
Harry closed his eyes and felt what he couldn’t see… Draco smiling.