Gift for: rurounihime
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Fin.
Summary: Unfortunately for Harry, killing Voldemort was not quite the end of his problems. Featuring libraries, kicking and Draco Malfoy.
Author's Notes: Thanks very much to tracy and inmyth for getting rid of all the mistakes they could find and for their infinite patience with my whining. All remaining mistakes are mine. To rurounihime - hope you like this, Merry Un-Christmas! ♥
Word count: 3,250
Draco sits back with a sigh, and pushes a lock of hair out of his eyes.
“I have some bad news, Potter,” he says, “and then some worse news.”
Potter frowns. “Go on.”
“The bad news is that The Dark Lord isn’t dead. Or at least, not yet.”
Potter blanches and leans forward. “But he is!” he exclaims. “I killed him!”
“You thought you killed him. His body died. But that’s happened before, hasn’t it? Most of his Horcruxes were destroyed, but not all of them.” He waits as Potter thinks it through.
Finally, he shakes his head. “I don’t understand.”
“The snake, Nagini,” Draco explains fairly patiently as, given the situation, Potter deserves it. “She was a Horcrux.”
“Yes,” he says, sounding annoyed. “I know. And I killed her.”
“But not before she bit you. The whole of Nagini was a Horcrux, Potter. Her body, her teeth. Her venom,” Draco finishes and looks pointedly at Potter’s leg.
“Her venom,” Potter repeats dumbly. “So that means…”
There are some things you should never have to tell anyone, but all the same, Draco has to do it. “Congratulations,” he says with a wry smile. “The Dark Lord isn’t dead, and he’s in your bloodstream.”
“But she must have bitten loads of people!” Potter says in what could almost be described as a wail. “Doesn’t that mean there are loads of us walking around with bits of Voldemort stuck in us?”
Draco winces at the name. Some habits are hard to break. Anyway, they had only gotten rid of Voldemort a few weeks ago, so he could really be excused. “You’re not exactly walking around, Potter. I can’t imagine that anyone else bitten by Nagini would have survived long afterwards, anyway, considering who her master was.”
Potter closes his eyes and lets his head fall back onto the pillow. “Right,” he mumbles. “Right. So what do we do?”
At that moment, Draco is so very tempted to shrug and say he doesn’t know.
It just wasn’t fair. The war had only been over a few scant weeks. He had done his fair share, defecting to follow Potter after that blasted Headmaster had so aptly confirmed what he had known about himself all along. Planning, plotting, healing, and celebrating when Potter found the Horcruxes one by one. Collapsing with exhaustion when it was all over. But now it was back again, and the last remaining shreds of what had once been Tom Riddle were currently on his couch, deep inside a grey, dead leg belonging to Harry Potter.
“What exactly are you expecting us to do?” he asks. “I still don’t even know why you’re here.”
Potter opens his eyes again. “The other healers I went to didn’t know what was wrong. We’ve tried every anti-venom. We’ve taken blood samples. I’ve even had phoenix tears injected directly into my leg and nothing helped,” he finishes in a shout, then takes a deep breath. “You diagnosed me,” he says somewhat more calmly. “You’ve got books and potions and knowledge that I bet most healers are too scared to even ask about.”
“And? I’m not your healer, Potter. It’s not my job.”
“You did it during the war. You saved a lot of people, Malfoy. Nobody’s better at doing this than you are, that’s why I’m here. St Mungo’s don’t know what to do, but they said that unless I find someone who does, I’m going to die.” Potter gives a small, sad smile, probably in the full knowledge that Draco is awfully prone to flattery.
And then he stares directly into Draco’s eyes, and Draco knows that no matter how much he dislikes Potter, no matter how much he wants to go back to doing nothing and loving every minute of it, he will do whatever Potter asks.
They fall into a routine with relative ease. First thing in the morning, Potter hauls himself through Draco’s fireplace and collapses onto his couch. Draco proceeds to examine his leg, prodding it with pins to see how far the numbness has spread, taking blood samples to check the contents.
Afterwards, Draco pores through the texts in his family library. He reads about poisons and snakes, about anything he can find concerning Horcruxes, anything which could in any way be relevant. He writes pages of notes, falls off the ladder once when trying to reach a book on the top shelf, and inevitably ends up covered in dust and smelling of old, dead things by the end of the day.
Whenever he turns around, Potter is watching him over the top of his own book, but when he meets his gaze the other man always looks away.
Draco inserts a pin into Potter’s leg, too far above the knee for comfort. The deadness is spreading so fast, and suddenly Draco has horrible thoughts about Inferi, zombies, things that Muggles were lucky enough to believe weren’t really real.
“Can you feel this?”
Potter shakes his head and opens his eyes, then looks down at the pin. “It’s getting worse,” he says flatly.
“But at least it hasn’t reduced your capacity for stating the obvious,” Draco retorts and sits down next to him, massaging his temples. When he looks up, Potter is watching him, looking distressed.
“Not just that kind of worse,” he says.
Draco quickly gives him a once over. Potter’s cheeks are pale and his forehead clammy, the scar on it standing out more vividly than usual. It is hard to see his body properly under the baggy T-shirt he is wearing, but Draco estimates that Potter has lost half a stone in the few weeks since he started coming to him. All the same, Draco decides, Potter is actually rather attractive in a strange sort of way, but that was neither here nor there.
When Draco meets his eyes again, Potter stares back with a curious expression on his face, then looks away.
“What kind of worse?” Draco asks.
“I called Hermione a Mudblood last night.” The disgust is evident in Potter’s voice, but it takes a moment for the problem with the sentence to register with Draco. “I didn’t mean to or anything, it just came out. And I’m thinking things that are… new to me. I only realise they’re bad when I stop to think about it.”
The room isn’t cold, and the weather outside is warm and pleasant considering the time of year, but suddenly Draco feels a chill. “What kind of new things?”
Potter shrugs and grabs a cushion, throwing it into the air and catching it a few times until Draco gives up on getting a reply out of him.
“You think it’s him.”
“It has to be,” Potter replies. “I don’t see how it can be anything else.”
“Sometimes, you know, people just change. Having new thoughts actually happens on a regular basis for most of us.” Draco’s lip curls and Potter looks at him sharply for a moment. Draco remembers that not too many years ago this statement would have prompted rather violent results.
Then Potter smiles at him, an open smile that makes something in Draco’s stomach turn over.
“If I break your nose, does that mean you won’t save my life?” he asks in a tone that could almost be described as friendly.
It takes Draco less then a second to notice what is wrong when Potter steps awkwardly out of the fireplace. “Your leg!” he exclaims. “You’re walking now?”
Potter nods, but still looks troubled. “I woke up this morning and it was moving.”
He shakes his head and throws himself onto the couch next to Draco. His leg keeps going, though, trying to step out into empty air.
“Still can’t feel it,” Potter says. “And I can’t choose where it’s moving. I’d say it has a life of its own, but I think we know whose life it’s currently living. I can’t feel the toes in my other foot, either.”
Draco sits and lets the information sink in, but no matter how he thinks about it no angle makes it look any better.
“I realised today that some time soon,” Potter continues, his face set, “I’m not going to be in control any more. It’s in my blood, so I’m not exactly going to be able to get away from it. I probably won’t even realise when it happens.” He turns to Draco. “When it does, I want you to do it.”
Draco takes a moment to gape like a fish. Although he knows exactly what Potter is referring to, he can distantly hear himself asking what the other man is talking about. Even when Potter explains again, quietly, patiently, he still finds himself somehow unable to understand.
Finally, Draco shakes his head. Looking down at his hands as though appealing to them for help, he tells Potter: “I’m not a killer. If I was, my life would probably have been a lot easier, or at least a lot simpler to work out. I won’t do it. I can’t.”
He still doesn’t look up, so starts when Potter’s hands cover his own. “You can,” Potter says gently, leaning forward so that his face is close to Draco’s, and he looks so honest and so trusting and so terribly Potter that suddenly Draco can’t breathe.
“I can’t,” he whispers.
“You can,” Potter repeats, then closes the gap between them to cover Draco’s lips with his own.
Draco’s hands automatically clench and he forgets about the rest of his body, focussing on the fact that it has been a long, long time since he has been this close to anyone, even longer since he has been kissed like this. Potter works his mouth so gently and Draco cannot help responding, allowing Potter to draw his lower lip into his mouth. He gasps when he feels the other man’s tongue run over it. Potter is hot and wet and he kisses like he does everything else, with determination and with more feeling than anyone else Draco has ever known.
As Potter leans even further forward and deepens the kiss, his errant leg abruptly stops trying to walk and instead chooses to kick Draco, who yelps and draws back.
“Well, fuck,” he murmurs, then looks down at his hands which he now notices are entwined with Potter’s.
When he meets his eyes again, Potter is smiling, and Draco makes a decision.
“I’m fetching Pansy,” he announces. “And maybe Blaise. You get Granger out of whatever library she’s hiding in, because the cure’s not going to be in any of the books she can get her hands on. I suppose you’re going to want Weasley as well, aren’t you?”
“Naturally,” says Potter, who is still smiling.
Draco reaches up with a hand. which he is pleased to note is not trembling in the slightest, and touches it to Potter’s lips, which he is even more pleased to note are slightly swollen. “I may not get the sole glory for making you better,” he announces, “but I’ll be damned if I’m going to kill you.”
“You all look so nice and cosy,” Potter mutters so quietly that Draco is not sure he has heard correctly, and nobody else appears to have noticed. When he looks up, Potter is sitting on the couch, watching him working with Pansy, Blaise, Weasley, and Granger. Potter is still now. His other leg had started acting up that morning, and now both disobedient limbs are immobilised by a series of complex charms. Although he is holding a book, he is quite clearly not reading it.
Over the past few days, Draco and his new research team had completed a sweep of the rest of the library and discovered no suitable pre-made spells or potions to save Potter, so had decided to concentrate on making their own. They had barely slept, working almost solidly, and Draco suddenly realised that he had barely spoken to Potter since their kiss.
“A perfect team,” Potter mumbles. “No need for me, just you and the Mudblood and the rest of--” He stops, closes his eyes, and sighs. “Yep, I’m losing my mind, but hey at least I get a new one.”
Draco gets up and makes his way over to Potter, sitting down next to him. Potter doesn’t respond, so Draco brushes a lock of hair off his face and feels rewarded when his eyes snap open and a hand shoots out to grab his own.
“What, tired of them now?”
“You’re irrational,” Draco says soothingly. “But it’s fine.”
“Why do you keep saying that like I’m a fucking child and don’t know what’s happening? It’s not fine,” Potter snaps, turning Draco’s hand over and tracing the lines on his palm surprisingly gently. Draco thinks about pulling away for the sake of the other people in the room, but decides that actually, he couldn’t care less about what they think. “I don’t even know what I’m thinking any more. I don’t want you to talk to them, I don’t want you to work with them, sometimes I don’t even want you to make me better. How do I even know who’s talking now, me or him?”
Suddenly the thought strikes Draco that he does not know who is speaking, either. Was it Potter who wanted him, Potter who was jealous because he was spending time with other people, or was it Voldemort trying to sabotage their plans? And if Voldemort was destroying Potter’s mind then even if they managed to get rid of him, what would be left?
“We might be on to something,” he says.
“Oh, well good for you,” Potter sneers. He drops Draco’s hand.
“No,” Draco informs him. “It’s good for you. Just pull yourself together. For them.” He gestures towards the table, where the others are watching them not particularly subtly. “For me.”
Potter glowers at him and does not reply, so Draco leaves without another word and gets back to work. When he looks back, Potter is pretending to read with his book upside down, but Draco decides to leave him to it.
The rest of them leave a few hours later, promising to return early the next morning. So, yawning, Draco returns to Potter.
“Want me to re-mobilise you?” he asks.
Potter thinks about it for a moment. “No. Best not to. Think I’ll stay here, if that’s alright with you?”
“Of course.” Draco sits again, slightly warily, but the expression on Potter’s face prompts him to shift closer and Potter slings an arm around him, absently tracing circles on his shoulders with his fingers.
“It’s normally better in the evening. Maybe I tire him out,” Potter says with something that could almost be a smile. “I-- I was a prat earlier. I’m sorry.”
“You weren’t a prat. You were-” ‘evil’, Draco’s brain fills in. ‘Possessed.’ “Someone else.”
“I’m not now,” Potter replies and Draco nods, relaxing to lean against him. They stay that way a while longer in silence, just because they can.
“I should find a blanket for you, or something like that,” Draco finally whispers, not sure why he is doing it but somehow feeling that he shouldn’t be raising his voice.
Potter does not reply for a moment, then, without moving, says: “I want you.”
“Naturally.” Draco laughs slightly nervously. “Can’t say I blame you.”
Draco turns to look at him. There are some candles lit, but Potter’s face is still dark, unreadable, so he laughs again and opens his mouth to try to say something. The words are swallowed before he can say them, though, as Potter kisses him. It’s almost the same as last time: not forceful or violent, and this reassures Draco somewhat. He runs his fingers through Potter’s hair and feels strong hands around his waist, allowing the other man to draw him further onto his lap.
“You want this, don’t you?” Potter whispers against his lips.
“I want you. I want you,” he replies.
“This is me, nobody else. I promise.” And just like that, Draco believes him and suddenly it all feels real. He shifts further forward so that he is straddling Potter, bearing down and not feeling remotely surprised that Potter is just as hard as he is, smiling in satisfaction when he moans into his mouth.
Then Potter is pushing his robes away, probably doing terrible things to the expensive buttons on Draco’s trousers, but that doesn’t matter because Potter is thrusting up against him and there is a hand around his cock. He hisses senseless words into Draco’s ear and Draco can just about pick up words like ‘”so long” and “need you” but when he tries to reply he can’t quite seem to get the words out. Then the hand tightens around him and Potter arches below him and Draco finds himself shouting out and coming all over Potter’s chest.
“We made a Drought of Peace,” Pansy explains a few days later, “but we’ve added a few ingredients generally used for exorcisms and banishments.”
“And it’s going to work?” Potter asks.
Granger smiles at him. “It worked on your blood samples, separated it out completely. There were a couple of minor side effects, but this is as good as it’s going to get.”
Draco watches as Potter nervously examines the contents of the cup.
“It looks like radioactive waste,” Potter announces.
“At least it’s not corrosive any more,” Blaise replies, and Draco can’t help laughing slightly hysterically.
“Harry, why don’t you just--”
Granger is cut off as, making a face, Potter knocks the potion back. They all lean in to watch him.
Potter’s face contorts for a few moments, and then he throws his head back and screams. Something huge erupts from his mouth, a black cloud boiling and twisting in the air above them, and Potter is still screaming and screaming and screaming and the thing is growing and writhing and the room smells of death and blood and evil.
Then Potter collapses, and the monster disappears, and the room is horribly, painfully silent.
On the fifth day after taking the potion, Harry wakes up to find Hermione and Ron at his side. He blinks at them in confusion and asks them why he can suddenly feel his leg, and wonders how St Mungo’s finally found the solution when they had been so useless before. He is very surprised to hear that he has been in contact with Draco Malfoy.
On the sixth day, Draco comes to see him and leaves pale and tight-lipped a few minutes later. He writes a cryptic message to Pansy about how he should never have trusted anyone, ever, especially people who have evil wizards inside them and happen to be called Harry Potter.
On the seventh day, Hermione finds a potion which might, just might help Harry get his memory back. At some point in the afternoon, their brewing is interrupted by the arrival of Pansy Parkinson, who smacks Harry over the head and leaves, fuming and muttering angrily to herself about ‘fragile hearts’ and irresponsible heroes.
On the tenth day, they complete the potion. Harry drinks it, and then frightens his friends by immediately breaking into a stream of expletives, attempting to punch a hole in the wall, and tearing out of the room.
And on the evening of the tenth day, Harry comes to Draco with a bottle of wine and an open heart and tells him that he remembers.