Chapter 9: Vernon Dursley Returns
That was the first thought that entered Draco's mind as he dwindled on the periphery of consciousness. Not the hard, hideous plastic casing of that retched slide that had served as his bed for nigh on a fortnight. He was comfortable, every which way he turned, he felt amazing and safe and warm and -alone? He frowned in his sleep and shifted in the warm blankets that were strewn across him. Merlin, he was so comfortable! He moaned in pleasure, tugging at his hair, as he subconsciously gathered the warm duvet within his arms, and hugging them to his chest, and curling around in them.
A low groaning echoed out through his clouded mind.
He hadn't groaned again, had he? No. Then -who had?
Sluggishly he jolted from the mattress, his eyes bleary and his head spinning. He groaned and dug the heel of his hands into his eyes and rubbed at them, trying to free them of sleep. He cracked his eyes open and glared at the room he was in -since when had he gotten into a house? Oh Merlin, was he doing this now? Breaking into peoples houses and sleeping in their beds? Wow he had sunk lower than he had expected. He forced his eyes shut tightly and dropped his head to his chest, breathing heavily through his nose. He forced his eyes open again and then squinted up at the strange room; the bland walls of faded grayish blue, the worn wardrobe, the battered and cluttered desk, the small shoe rack protruding from the end of the bed, and small nightstand to his right. The curtains were parted and light pooled in from outside, staining large portions of the furniture with honey-glazed segments. He yawned wildly. And that's when he heard it again. The groan -the frantic panting -the twisting and beating upon blankets. He frowned.
He licked his lips and peered over the edge of the small single bed and looked down at the floor. He took a sharp intake of breath and felt the air hiss down his throat. It stung. He rubbed at his chest and frowned down at the sight that, literally, lay before him; a caramel tanned boy was laying haphazardly in the middle of the cramped room, his scraggly black hair looked damp from sweat, as did his features in the early morning sunlight, his bedclothes were rumpled and exposing the skin they should be covering, and the blankets that were upon him were kicked about and tangled around his oddly angled legs. Draco tilted his head to one side to get a better look at the boys' -Harry's -face.
He looked -troubled.
Draco lay back down on the very edge of the mattress, pressing his chest down against the coolest end of the mattress and curled an arm under his head. He was simply content on just lying there on the end of the mattress and gazed down at the fitfully sleeping boy who was sprawled out on the floor. Draco felt a stabbing pang in his stomach as he looked down at the boy on the floor -why had the boy slept on the floor? There was enough space in the bed for two -wasn't there? Draco did not mind sharing the small bed -he had far too much loneliness to last him a little while. Harry's whimpers had subsided and Draco could not help but wonder how many nights Harry spent tossing and turning so fitfully and sweating and groaning and trapped within his own mind. He reached down with his left hand and -using his forefinger as lightly as possible -stroked a few strands of damp black hair out of Harry's eyes. He breathed easily as he softly traces the small white welts around Harry's eyes -an accident perhaps? He would need to ask -and then turned his hand to rest his knuckles against Harry's moist forehead.
High temperature -possible fever or heat stroke.
Draco's left arm fell limp at the side of the bed. He felt his heartstrings twinge and his stomach knot. Harry couldn't be ill. He managed to be ill without much outward consequence -sure -but Draco didn't want to think of his new found friend as 'ill'. He frowned. He didn't know what muggles did in this situation, perhaps some of those little white pills that Harry had given him last night? The only problem is where would he find them? The kitchen probably, that was where Harry had gotten then from after all.
Feeling sluggish but determined, Draco pushed himself away from the headboard, sliding his body down to the end of the mattress. At the end of the bed, he sat up and stretched his aching arms high over his head, hearing the joints groan and crack. He glanced over at Harry to make sure that the bed springs did not irritate the brunette. He had not stirred. Grey eyes drifted to the clock on the beside table -Draco had figured it out that it was a clock eventually as he had watched the minutes ticking away -it was early.
Draco felt edgy all of a sudden as he slid off of the bed and -narrowly missing the shoe rack at the end of the bed -and tiptoed towards the bedroom door. Continuously glancing over his shoulder at his sleeping friend, Draco twisted the brass door knob and eased the door open. He held his breath as he stepped out onto the landing and a floorboard creaked underfoot. His body temperature seemed to sky rocket. Nothing happened. Feeling his heartbeat increase unbearably, Draco eased his way down the staircase with the most minimal sound and edged towards the kitchen where he promptly rinsed a glass that was standing upside-down on the draining board, filled it with cold water, and then began hunting around in the numerous drawers for the white tablets. He rifled through all the drawers as quickly as he could, trying not to disturb too many things, before he found something. I small sheet of plastic with rounded capsules on one side. Reading the flat, foil side he saw that drug was good for toothaches, headaches, sore muscles, and general pain. Popping two of the capsules into his hand, he replaced the packet inside the drawer and returned upstairs with stealth -holding the cup in one hand and the tablets in the other.
Upon entering the room, Draco saw that Harry was awake and sitting upright, propped with his back against the bedstead. He was slouching, looking groggily at the base of his wardrobe without really seeing it, hair messed up in every direction and the odor of sleep clinging to him. When the door clicked shut behind Draco the brunette looked up and frowned, "where were you?" he asked in a deep husky voice, one that made Draco's skin ripple as it resounded.
"I woke up and saw you thrashing about" Draco stated in a loud whisper, "I brought you these -in case you felt weird when you woke up"
Harry rubbed at his eyes and looked up at the glass of water and tablets. He gave a weak smile and held out his hands for each. Draco handed the glass and pills over without hesitation, climbing back up onto the bed and leaning over the edge to watch Harry throw back the pills and guzzle down the water greedily. Once he was done, Harry gasped with relief before leaning over and placing the glass on the nightstand. "Thank you Draco -that really helped a lot"
Draco smiled from his position on the bed, glad that he was able to help Harry feel better after, what seemed like, a hectic evening. "You should rest a little more Harry" he breathed after a few minutes of comfortable silence. Harry nodded and waited a few moments before actually starting to shift the blankets around again so that they were not a tangled heap. "Harry?"
The raven-haired teen looked up at Draco peering over the edge of the mattress at him, and frowned. "Yes, Draco?"
"Come up here" the blonde insisted in a soft voice, already shifting over with his back to the wall, a barrier of blanket prevented the cool wool to sear through his shirt. There was a large gap on the mattress large enough for Harry to shuffle on.
Harry looked over the edge of the mattress, his chin hooked onto the edge. "Why? The floor is fine"
Draco rolled his eyes. His voice was a whisper as he spoke, "Harry, the floor isn't good for you. Come up here -it's too early to argue and you need some comfort before you officially get up"
They stared at one another until -finally -Harry blinked and looked away. "You win" he grumbled.
Draco smirked sleepily, "I always win" he murmured as he watched Harry claw his way up onto the mattress and flop down onto his back on what little space that was available. The heat from both of their bodies began to mingle. Draco breathed deeply -the scent of Harry's perspiring body and shampoo wafting up his nose. He felt something in his stomach stir. He closed his eyes and inhaled again as Harry curled an arm under his head and relaxed. "Are you feeling any better Harry?" Draco asked after a few minutes of silence.
Harry squirmed a little before sighing, "my stomach feels a little queasy" he confessed, a frown creating a small crease between his eyebrows.
Draco frowned. He was sure that those tablets were supposed to work. Were they defective? Humming in thought, he shifted up into a kneeling position and rolled up the hem of Harry's sticky shirt, he had to literally peel it off of the boys skin. Harry jolted up, pressing his shirt down as he did so, "what are you doing?" Harry rushed, cheeks flushing brightly.
Draco rolled his eyes, "easy Potter" he grouched, pushing the younger boy back down onto the mattress, "calm down"
Harry averted his eyes, his body burning up with the heat and the fact that his shirt was now being pushed up to just below his rib cage. His breathing was ragged and he was feeling feverish and shaking. He felt like he was having a full body-spasm. That is when -nothing happened. There was nothing but a low heat pressing upon his navel. Jerking his head up he looked down to the exposed strip of skin and saw a pale hand rubbing slow circles on his stomach. Looking over at the blonde, he frowned and spluttered, "w-what are you doing?"
Draco merely offered him a feeble smile, "I'm rubbing your tummy"
Harry tried to search his mind for a smart comeback. Nothing came to him. "W-what? W-why?"
"Shh!" Draco hissed sternly, before rolling his eyes and resting his head back on his half of the pillow, "this is what my mother used to do when I was little and had a tummy-ache"
Harry looked into Draco's silver eyes, searched for the dark humor in those depths, for the sarcastic edge to his words. But there was none. His voice was soft -pure -innocent. He swallowed thickly, before easing himself back down onto the pillow, Draco's soft hand still on his skin, burning a hole into his flesh. However, the weird thing was -he liked it. It was a comforting feeling. It even soothed him a little. Within minutes he was able to relax. He smiled over at Draco. "T-thank you Draco. This is the ... nicest ... anyone has ever been to me"
Draco felt a tug at his heart. At least his mum had given him some nice memories. According to Harry, the poor boy didn't even have that. He looked over into Harry's bright green eyes and melted further into the mattress. He could get used to this -spending time with Harry. Harry appeared to be thinking it too, as his raven eyelashes fluttered delicately in the morning light and closed over his emerald eyes. Draco didn't care. He was happy just to see Harry this carefree and relaxed. He looked so soft -not the haggard young man he had first encountered. He stopped rubbing Harry's stomach and unwillingly slid his stomach a few centimeters higher. When he was met with no refusal, he edged his hand higher -his palm brushing over smooth, feverish skin. It sent a tingling sensation fleeting to the pit of his stomach. He was trembling. He swallowed thickly and move his hand so that it was resting over Harry's left collarbone, the thrumming of Harry's heartbeat vibrating against Draco's palm.
Draco held his breath, his own heart skipping a beat.
He shifted his body closer, feeling the feverish warmth of Harry's radiate through the minimal space between them. Draco decided to close his eyes for a few more hours sleep.
Both boys jerked awake, eyes bleary with sleep and muscles stiff and heavy from sleeping cramped on the small single bed. Draco frowned at the shouting coming from downstairs, whereas Harry's face had fallen and was growing increasingly pale. "Harry what is is?" Draco breathed. He officially began to panic when Harry didn't answer -he didn't even turn to look at him. "Harry?" he hissed, desperately wanting -needing -the brunette to look at him with those bright emerald eyes.
Harry tore his eyes from the memories he was watching play forth on the blank wall opposite him where the door stood. He glanced up at Draco whom was kneeling beside him. He no longer felt feverish -he felt his blood running cold through his veins. "It's er ..."
"BOY WHERE ARE YOU?"
"Harry who is it?" Draco hissed urgently, his stomach knotting painfully within his stomach. He reached out and placed a frightened hand upon the boys' forearm.
Harry flinched, green eyes glistening in the sunlight, "it's my Uncle" he breathed, his breath hitched and high-pitched, "he's home"
Draco froze, his hand grasping Harry's arm as the brunette began to shake on the bed beside him. "What should I -um -what do I-?"
"Hide" came the hollow response from the brunette as the shaking began to ease a little. The distant pounding of feet on the staircase could be heard. "Draco hide! Now!" Harry hissed. Draco could barely question as to why he had to high, as Harry grabbed the scruff of his neck and jerked him off of the bed. Draco was so shocked that he was rendered spluttering and speechless as he was suddenly thrust into the darkness of Harry's wardrobe. "Please -whatever you see -don't come out" Harry choked before slamming the door shut.
The smell was rather dusty and heavy as it hung off of the clothes like invisible cobwebs, that tickled the inside of his nose. He refused to sneeze out loud. He then heard the bedroom door open -his heart froze, sweat exploded onto his skin, and he willed his breathing to quieten.
"Potter" he heard the gruff voice bark through the door. Peering through the gap between the wardrobe doors, Draco saw the fat man from the photo's enter the room.
"H-hi Uncle Vernon how w-was your trip?"
"Oh so now you're polite to me, are you boy?" he growled out.
"I -I'm always polite to you, sir" Harry managed to choke out, rubbing his hands behind his back.
"HA!" sneered the beefy man as he towered over the young, scruffy-haired boy. "Don't try and be funny with me Potter"
Draco frowned as he watched Harry back up against the bed, his Uncle sneering down into his face. "I -I wasn't" Draco could barely hear Harry's voice now. He looked so frightened and all Draco wanted was to explode from the closet and wrap his arms around Harry and hug the small boy. He shook his head -since when was he so emotionally attached to people? But as he looked out through the gap -at Harry's Uncle viciously jabbing the boys' chest as he ranted some shit off at the top of his gruff lungs, Draco knew it was true.
He wanted to protect Harry.
He cared for him.
"-AND FURTHER MORE, BOY, IF YOU NEGLECT ANY OF YOUR CHORES EVER AGAIN THEN I WILL MAKE SURE THAT YOU PAY!"
"WHAT LIKE YOU DID LAST TIME?" it was the first time all morning that Harry had stood up for himself, his face was blotchy from his fever and his temper. He and his uncle were now nose-to-nose. Draco's stomach knotted in dread. He shuddered.
The resounding slap that was delivered to Harry's face would forever haunt Draco's nightmares. Tears -both of anger and of fear -swelled within his stormy eyes as Harry's Uncle left the room, slamming the door shut as he did so, and Harry's motionless form rested on the floor half-hidden by the end of the bed. Draco counted to ten, waiting to see whether or not for anyone to return. No one did. He eased the wardrobe door open and rushed out virtually on his knees, to Harry's side. Breathing heavily, he rolled Harry onto his back, and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw Harry blinking normally, breathing and -trembling? Draco took the young boys' hand in his own and fingered the boys' scruffy dark hair. "Harry?"
The dark-haired boy did not respond, he merely allowed the tears to roll down his cheeks.
The silence screamed with the aftermath of his Uncle's abuse.
"Oh ... Severus" was all Narcissa seemed to be able to say as her head reemerged from the onyx basin of Severus' pensieve. Her silver eyes were shimmering with un-shed tears and her mouth agape in shock. Severus waved his hand, the basin silently gliding through the air between them as he guided it wandlessly into his cabinet. Narcissa watched him intently as she seated herself in an armchair opposite him in his front parlor. Several moments passed as they looked at one another. "Severus I ... I had no idea ..."
"No one did" he cut across, eyeing the hearth, "I didn't even know. Clearly," he sighed warily.
"But -Lily. Lily! The Lily, your Lily"
"Yes Narcissa" Severus snapped, "I am aware that I had a perfect night with my Lily, and her son -he's the boy your son is friends with"
Narcissa's eyes went from hurt to wide, "Oh Severus! He lives so close to you? My goodness"
"I saw him" Severus murmured, earning him a frightened look from his blonde friend, "by the muggle supermarket, he was with Draco. They had gone shopping. If I did not know better I would say that my ... son ... has taken in your son"
"There is one thing that puzzles me"
"Oh? What is that?"
"Your son ... how is he a muggle? How was he never sent to a wizarding school? Has he no magic ability?"
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose, his chest growing tight, "I do not know, Cissa, both Lily and I had the ability to do magic -perhaps the magical genes are recessive in his bloodstream, but I would not know unless I somewhere can test a sample of his blood -which is improbable at the moment"
Narcissa hummed in thought. "What of that old lady my son visits? Could you not make friends with her? Create some little potion or ointment for any of her ailments or something?"
"I have thought of it" Severus confessed, "however I am still in shock about having a son to pay much attention. I have not seen Draco hanging around that much of late so for now we shall have to be patient"
Narcissa looked over at her long-time friend and felt her own heart jump, "are you sure that you can do that Severus?" she asked quietly, not wanting to spark his anger.
He looked at her with his dark eyes, the onyx depths not revealing his true emotions. A solemn expression suddenly overtook his features as he lowered his eyes away from her own, "I don't know Cissa, I honestly don't know" he sighed heavily and then rubbed the lower half of his face. "Can you do something for me?" he asked seriously after a few moments. She nodded eagerly, her blonde and brunette curls bouncing softly around her shoulders. "I need you to look into some of the Ministry archives as well as St. Mungo's. See if there are any records on Lily's son other than the ones I already have"
She gave him a sympathetic smile, and placed a delicate hand over his own. "Of course, Severus, of course I can"
Harry felt as though he had been glaring the entire day since he had left Draco alone, up in his room. He had left the window open as much as he could so that Draco could not complain of lack of air. He had eventually shown Draco the few things that there were to do in his room, however he confessed that there was not much else to do. He was itching to get back upstairs, but he wanted to sneak some food up as well. Vernon had given him a rough evening, but he was thankful that Petunia made sure to stay in the same room as the both of them. She kept shooting Harry concerned glances every now and then, but he had ignored them for the most part.
He calmly stacked the scraped plates into the dish-washer and started putting the used napkins in the bin, before placing the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper back in the cupboards. There was at least half of the salad left, which he placed cling-film over the top. The roast chicken that he had prepared for them had some remnants left over, so when he was alone he could make some sandwiches. Satisfied that he now had a plan, he scraped leftover vegetables into the bin and placed the remaining dishes and cups and cutlery into the dishwasher, put the tablet in, and pressed the 'START' button. It took a moment before the machine sprang into life with a low rumbling hum.
Finally, the kitchen was cleared.
Peering around the corner into the adjoining living-room, Harry waited a few moments to make sure that Petunia, Vernon and Dudley had their eyes plastered upon the television screen, before reaching up into the cupboards over the sink and pulled out two plates, the loaf of bread, the tub of butter from the fridge along with the plate of cold chicken. He set about quickly making sandwiches and cutting them small enough to crowd onto both plates. He had not realized how much chicken had been left over, but he assumed that Draco would be hungry.
He could not help but smile as he thought of the blonde. He had enjoyed the blonde rubbing his stomach -though he felt strange when he admitted it even to himself -but he felt ashamed and horrible at Draco having to witness his Uncle's small greeting that morning. He shuddered to think of it. He had not wanted to talk about it, so he had roughly explained the few things there were to do in his room to Draco, before rushing hastily out of his room to do more than his acquired amount of chores for the day. Petunia had been grateful but Vernon had kept his beady little eyes on his almost all evening, convinced that he was up to something.
Harry rolled his eyes at the notion.
With the plate of sandwiches made and the bowl of salad tucked under one arm, Harry took a peer into the living room. They were all still watching the television. Good. Practically holding his breath, he slid past the doorway and into the hall before edging his way up the staircase as quietly as possible, avoiding the creaky floorboards as he did so. He tapped his fingers lightly on the door of his bedroom before nudging it open with his foot and stepping inside. He was a little surprised to see Draco perched on his bed with a book open to on his chest. Harry frowned. Draco liked 'Sherlock Holmes'? He did not know why that surprised him, he probably just assumed that Draco would like the classic's like 'Pride and Prejudice'.
Not that he had any of those.
Draco looked up from his book and grinned, "oh wow Harry you need to stop spoiling me" he chuckled as Harry set the plates of sandwiches onto the bed between them along with the bowl of salad.
Harry rolled his eyes as he settled down beside Draco, "well until we can figure out what to do with you, Blondie, you can allow me the pleasure of waiting on you hand and foot"
"A pleasure for you, is it?" Draco asked, cocking an eyebrow.
Harry nodded, "yes it is -at least you appreciate what I do for you"
Draco looked at the brunette and felt his voice come out more seriously then he had imagined, "you have no idea how truly grateful I am to you"
Harry gave him a sympathetic smile before reaching out -hesitated -and then grasped Draco's pale hand in his own, "you're keeping me sane"
Draco looked down at the tan hand covering his own but made no comment on it, as he shoved a sandwich into his mouth. Harry chuckled, "I doubt that Harry. You're a little whack-o for me" Draco teased.
Harry mock-pouted, gnawing his lower lip and looked up at the blonde with big puppy-dog eyes, "we can be whack-o together can't we?"
Draco could not help but laugh as loud as he dared -which wasn't that loud considering the Dursley's were downstairs. "Course we can, Harry" Harry rolled his eyes, as Draco grabbed him in a headlock and ruffled the raven locks affectionately. Upon releasing the brunette from his hold he watched the young boys' cheeks flush a soft rosy hue and smiled. It was sweet. "I like it when you smile" Draco confessed lightly.
Harry frowned a little, "really? Why?"
Draco shrugged a shoulder, "it makes you look a little more care-free, someone really sweet and -well you're sweet anyway but I mean -" Draco was stumbling on his words, and he hated it when he did that. He scowled at himself and looked away, biting aggressively into the last of his sandwiches. He heard Harry chuckle and looked up through his blonde fringe, "what?"
Harry hesitated and shuffled over, leaning his head against Draco's shoulder -feeling a little weary of the whole day. Draco leaned back against the wall, not wanting to startle the younger boy. He could literally sense Harry's tiredness flowing off of the boys' skin. He adjusted their bodies against one another and nudged the plates -luckily they were plastic -to the end of the bed, and propped a pillow behind his lower back. Harry shuffled over, curling his feet up on the bed, and practically cuddled up against Draco's body, a hand fisting the blonde boys' shirt. Peering closer, Draco saw that the brunette boy had prepared himself to sleep. Draco smiled and leaned back against the pillow -feeling relieved of the comfort of Harry's weight resting against him -and closed his eyes to sleep. "Sleep tight, Harry" he murmured as he stroked Harry's raven locks from his forehead and curled his free arm under his head.
He glared at the lamp that was perched on Harry's bedside table and wished that he could have his wand -or even do wandless magic. He pursed his lips and raised his right hand and focused on the lamp -he focused on darkness -he focused all his energy that was boiling within his blood. He could feel his fingertips throbbing with anticipation and ... nothing. Nothing but a bubble of oxygen exploding from between his lips. His chest deflated and a swelling cloud of emptiness flooded within him.
He couldn't do magic.
He had no idea why it was only just sinking into his brain, but it made his heart ache.
Harry shifted on the bed space between Draco's body and the wall, and tightened his hold on Draco's shirt. Draco felt the cloud of darkness lighten in his chest. He reached over and switched the light off with the little flick-switch. The muggle way.
The darkness was all that made Draco feel at that moment.
Well, the darkness and the fact that the most selfless young man was curled up against his chest -a young man who was just as lost and alone as Draco himself.