Title: Black's Blood Curse
Author: Rickey_A
Rating: PG-13 slash
Pairing: Harry/Draco
Genre:  Hurt/Comfort, Drama, Romance
Warnings: None
Word count: ~9100

Summary:  Teddy Lupin is gravely ill, and only the blood of the closest living Black male relative can save him.

A/N:  Huge thanks to my whole EWE team from HD-Worldcup. The EWE locker room was an awesome place.  My story notes regarding the tarot prompts and HDcup experience are here:  Black's Blood Curse-HDcup story notes (Dreamwidth)
Original posting: HDworldcup  Black's Blood Curse - Team EWE - The Empress




Black's Blood Curse


After the war there were funerals.  After the war there was clean up and rebuilding.  After the war there were hearings, trials, and plea bargains.  There was supposed to be healing.  Things were supposed to get better, or so Harry thought.  He never expected he'd have to return to Malfoy Manor, at least not a mere four weeks after the Battle of Hogwarts.  But this was a matter of life and death, although that hardly seemed like much of a change.

It was shortly after sunrise and Harry hadn't slept at all.  He banged on the door several times and waited impatiently.  After a few minutes, Narcissa answered the door.  She was wearing a black silk dressing gown and looked as though she had just woken up. 

"Mr. Potter?" she said completely surprised, and cinched her belt tighter.

"I know it's early, but this is an emergency.  Andromeda sent me."  Harry knew that Andromeda had reconciled somewhat with Narcissa in the last few weeks, but he had no clue as to how Mrs. Lucius Malfoy truly felt about her estranged sister.

"I'm sorry," she said, backing away awkwardly.  "Come in, please."

Harry followed her into the foyer.

"Mother?"  A familiar voice came from up a wide marble staircase.  "Everything all right?"

"Yes, Draco.  It's Harry Potter."

"What?" yelled Draco, and came barreling down the stairs in nothing but his Slytherin green pyjamas.  "What are you doing here?"

"Good, I'm glad you're up.  Saves me the trouble of having to say this more than once." 

"What is it, Mr. Potter?" Narcissa asked calmly.

"It's Teddy.  He's ill.  Black's Blood Curse," Harry stated, hoping that Narcissa would know what that meant.

"I'm sorry, I don't follow you."

"Andromeda didn't know about it either, but it's an old ancestral curse on the Black family.  It affects the males; not all, just some.  He'd been getting sicker and sicker and we didn't know what it was.  St. Mungo's didn't know.  Finally, Kreacher remembered it, and they were able to look it up at St. Mungo's.  There are records.  There's a treatment, but we have to do it right away."

"Slow down, Mr. Potter."

Harry took a deep breath.  "Sorry, been up all night.  We just figured it out late last night.  I waited 'til morning to come."

"Please, Mr. Potter, I don't understand."

Harry looked over at Draco.  "We need his blood and his magic."

"You have some nerve barging—" Draco began, but Narcissa cut him off.

"Draco."

"Please, he's dying," Harry begged, not caring one whit about his pride.

"What do I care if that half-breed M—"

"Draco!"  Narcissa drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly.  "Tea, Mr. Potter?"

"We haven't time.  Andromeda is at St. Mungo's with the baby, and we—"

"I need a cup of tea and, by the looks of it, so do you.  You waited until morning.  I think we have ten minutes.  Liddy!"

A house-elf appeared instantly.  "Yes, Mistress?"

"Tea for three in the dining room.  Quickly."

Within a few minutes, they were seated around the end of the Malfoy's long dining room table with three steaming cups of tea.

"Now, Mr. Potter, please start from the beginning.  I am unfamiliar with the Black's Blood Curse."

Harry took a deep breath and then explained, "About a week or so after the war, the baby started to get sick.  At first he wasn't eating and sleeping well.  Andromeda assumed it was because…" Harry took a steadying breath.  "He was having trouble adjusting to his mother being gone.  Only he kept getting sicker: high fever, difficulty breathing, and the Healers at St. Mungo's tried everything.  Nothing helped.  Last night, Kreacher, the Black house-elf, told me about the curse.  It affects the males.  The Healers looked it up in the archives and found it.  It's been going on for at least five generations.  It usually manifests when the child is one to two years old.   That's why no one recognized it.   The Healers think that the babies got magical protection from their mother's milk.  But Teddy…  They need to do a blood and magic transfusion from another Black male without the curse. "

"You want me?" asked Draco in disbelief.

"You're it, Malfoy.  It takes less than twenty-four hours.  It's completely safe.  They've been doing it for almost a hundred years."

"Says you."

"Says the best Healers at St. Mungo's."

"And if I don't?" demanded Draco, staring Harry down.

"He'll die."  Harry turned his attention to Narcissa.  "Mrs. Malfoy, I know you've only recently reconciled with Andromeda, but she's your sister.  She's lost so much: her husband, her daughter, her son-in-law… she can't lose… she can't…" Harry felt the tears swelling in his eyes.  "You have your family." 

"I am well aware of what you have done for us, Mr. Potter.  I do believe that I have explicitly expressed my gratitude," Narcissa said calmly.  The hearings had been the week before.  Harry had testified on of their behalf, all of them.  Lucius was given a year house arrest, and they were subjected to unannounced Auror inspections, but other than that, they were free.

"Then help her.  Help him.  He's just a baby.  He hasn’t done anything.  He's innocent.  A baby.  An infant.  No mother.  No father."  Teddy was his godson and he meant the world to him.  He was the last connection to Remus, to his own parents.  "You'd be sentencing him to death – an infant, your own blood."

Harry clutched his wand under the table.  If he had to stun Draco Malfoy and strap him down, he was going to bring him St. Mungo's and help Teddy.

A minute passed without a sound other than Narcissa quietly sipping her tea.

With fluid grace, Narcissa rose to her feet and said, "Mr. Potter, go to St. Mungo's.  We will meet you there."

"Mother?"

"Give me a minute to talk with my son.  We'll be along shortly."

"Thank you," Harry said, closing his eyes and feeling his throat constrict.  When he opened them, he saw Draco appraising him, not with the usual revulsion, but with curiosity.

~ooOOOoo~

Two hours later, a team of three Healers began the procedure.  Draco lay in a small hospital bed with his mother sitting by his side.  Next to the bed was a bassinette containing an extremely fragile Teddy Lupin.  Anxiously, Andromeda and Harry sat and waited as the Healer Cooligan performed the first series of spells while the other two Healers continuously cast monitoring spells.  A thin silvery line sprouted out from Draco's chest and slowly made its way through the air and over to Teddy.  Draco began to gasp as the connection was made.  Narcissa squeezed his hand and whispered something against his temple.  Harry caught himself staring and quickly looked back to Teddy, who was still sleeping in the magical coma induced by the Healers.

Once the connection was stabilized, Draco's breathing evened out and he sat back against the pillows.  "No one said it was going to hurt," Draco complained.

"Malfoy, you're such a… Look at Teddy.  Look at that baby," Harry urged.

Draco looked across the bond for few seconds and then turned his head.

Healer Cooligan cast one more spell, and then he said, "We'll be back in about an hour, after the bond has fully stabilized, to do the blood transfer.  The monitoring spells are linked to my wand, so I'll know if anything has gone wrong."

"Thank you," said Andromeda.

"Yes, thank you," added Harry.

"And remember, Mr. Malfoy," Cooligan explained, "You're not to perform any magic until after the procedure is complete."

Draco scowled.  "No one said anything about that, either."

"I'll hold your wand for safe keeping," Narcissa said, picking up her son's wand from the nightstand.

Watching her tuck the wand into her robes, Harry became lost in thought wondering as to where Draco might have procured a new wand.  Cooligan's abrupt goodbye snapped him out of it.

Harry walked behind Andromeda, who was staring wistfully at the baby.  "He's going to be okay," Harry said, not really sure whether he believed it or not.

"Andie, would you like some tea?" Narcissa asked kindly.

Andromeda shook her head and appeared to be on the verge of tears.  Narcissa walked over to her and took her hand.  "Come with me, dear.  Let's get some air."

"I can't," Andromeda choked out, shaking her head fiercely.

"Come," Narcissa said gently.  She drew Andromeda up to her feet and pulled her into a hug.   She whispered something that Harry couldn't hear, and then he saw Andromeda nod.  Harry looked back from Draco, who had his eyes glued to his mother.

"We'll be back in a few minutes," Narcissa said softly.

"Your mother is being really nice," Harry said, after they had left the room.

"I'm the one sitting here letting the Healers suck the magic out of me," Draco said indignantly.

"You're not being exactly nice about it," Harry spat back in a hushed tone.

"Why are you involved in this, Potter?"

"What do you mean?"

"Why are you so interested in the werewolf's and my cousin's kid?"

"He's my godson," Harry stated, and then traced the baby's cheek with his finger.  Harry looked up to see Draco looking at him and unmistakably pondering that piece of information.

"Why'd you agree to do this?" Harry asked after several silent minutes.

"My mother asked me to," Draco replied.

"And if she hadn't?"  Harry pressed.

"You really think I'm a monster, don't you?"

"No, I think you're a selfish, spoiled prat.  I think you grew up in a home with Dark magic and a father loyal to one of the most evil Dark wizards to ever walk the earth.  I think you were too young and too stupid to know any better."

"That's rich, coming from you."

"Whatever, Malfoy."  Harry turned his attention back to Teddy.  He looked so frail, so small.   Harry could feel the weight of Draco's stare behind him.

"He asked me if I would babysit the cubs."

Draco had whispered it, and Harry wasn't sure if he had heard it right.  "What?" 

"The Dark Lord.  He'd heard about their marriage.  He… he wanted…"

Harry looked up to see the Draco Malfoy that he had seen the day he and his friends were captured and taken to Malfoy Manor.  There was fear and a look of defeat in his eyes.  "What?" Harry asked gently.

"He wanted them killed.  He said that my mother and aunt should… He asked if I would babysit the cubs."

Harry nodded and watched Draco stare intently at his comatose eleven-week old cousin.

"It appears that I am," Draco said ruefully.

~ooOOOoo~

Andromeda and Narcissa returned with hot tea for both Harry and Draco.  The Healers arrived a short time later and extracted three small vials of blood from Draco, which they transferred to Teddy. 

Cooligan cast another series of spells and said, "We don't need to cast the next set of spells for another six hours.  You should get some rest, Mrs. Malfoy."

"Harry," Andromeda said quietly, "you should go home and get some rest too."

"I'm staying," he said resolutely.

Andromeda turned her attention to Narcissa, who quickly announced, "I'm staying as well."

"Can I hold the baby now?" Andromeda asked the Healer.  "You said I could hold him once the bond was established."

Healer Cooligan smiled warmly and nodded.  "Just keep him within a few feet of Mr. Malfoy."

Andromeda swaddled Teddy in a blanket and cradled him in her arms. 

Narcissa looked over her sister's shoulder and said, "He looks like a Black."

Nodding once, Andromeda pulled the baby tight against her bosom.

They sat quietly, with the exception of Andromeda's occasional cooing to the baby.  Draco dozed in and out of consciousness for the first few hours.  It was expected that the bond would make him feel weak. 

Harry called Kreacher and asked him to bring sandwiches for everyone.  It was only when lunch had arrived that Andromeda finally put Teddy back into the bassinette. 

The Healers came by hourly to check the bond and on Teddy and Draco's vital signs.  They also changed Teddy's nappy and cast a Nourishment Spell.  Everything seemed to be progressing according to the notes in the annals.

At the prescribed time, Healer Cooligan drew another three small vials of Draco's blood.   After he had transferred the blood to Teddy, Cooligan cast a quick spell and announced that the next follow-up spell didn't have to be performed for twelve hours.  Again he urged everyone to get some rest, as there was nothing to do but wait.

Narcissa kissed the top of Draco's head.  "I'm going to go home and update your father.  I'll be back in an hour or two.  You need a rest, darling."  She turned and transfigured one of the guest chairs into a comfortable looking chaise.  "Try and sleep a little, Andie."

"Cissy, thank you.  For everything."

Narcissa nodded and left the room.

"And thank you, Draco," said Andromeda.

"I'm not doing it for you.  I'm doing it for my mother," Draco replied, not meeting his aunt's gaze.

"It doesn't matter why, just that you're doing it.  You are giving him life.  I will always remember this."  Andromeda picked up Teddy and brought the bundled baby over to Draco.  "This is your cousin, Teddy Remus Lupin.  I will make sure that he always remembers as well."  She held the baby out to Draco.

"I don't… I've never held a baby," Draco muttered, looking positively frightened.

"It's easy."  She placed the baby into Draco's arms.

Harry looked on as Draco awkwardly cradled his cousin in his arms. 

After a minute, Draco mumbled, "Umm... can you?"

"I'll take him."  Harry said quietly, sliding his arms under Teddy.  "Why don't you put your feet up," he said to Andromeda, gesturing with his head to the chaise.

~ooOOOoo~

Draco slept for most of the rest of the day.  It was after midnight and Narcissa and Andromeda had both dozed off.  Harry was awake, keeping watch when Draco stirred for the first time in hours.

"Hey," Harry whispered.

"What time is it?" Draco whispered.  His voice was scratchy, and he winced as he turned on his side to face Harry.

"Quarter past twelve.  Would you like some water or something to eat?"

Draco rubbed his eyes and sat up a little.  "Not hungry, but water would be good."

Quietly, Harry fetched a cup of water and helped Draco to sit up further in order to drink it.  He sipped gingerly.

"Do you want me to call the Healer?" Harry asked.

"No, I'm okay.  I can wait until the next treatment."

"You don't look so good."  Draco looked pale, even more so than usual.  He had dark circles under his eyes, and his movements were lethargic and accompanied by pained expressions.

"Neither do you," Draco whispered back without any malice.

"Malfoy…"

"Don't get sentimental on me now, Potter.  We survived the Dark Lord, war, and some very unpleasant Ministry hearings, unpleasant for me anyway.  It's just a baby."

"You're such a prat," Harry said, but it held no bite.

"You just can't stand that I get to be the hero this time."

"I can stand it, if you can."

~ooOOOoo~

Healer Cooligan came in the middle of the night to perform the last blood transfer and set of spells.  He estimated that by noon the bond would dissolve on its own, when the procedure was complete.  At that point he would wake the baby.  Narcissa asked how long it would take for Draco to recover.  It wasn't clear in the notes, but Healer Cooligan estimated only a few hours.

In the early morning, Narcissa went home to bathe and update Lucius.  Andromeda was finally asleep after spending many hours holding Teddy and staring off into the night. 

Harry heard Draco groaning.  "Are you okay?"

"No," Draco gritted out.

"I'll get Cooligan."

"Won't do any good.  He said he couldn't…" Draco winced, "give me anything until after the bond dissolved."

Compelled by fundamental human compassion, Harry ignored the fact that it was Draco Malfoy, and held out his hand.  "Squeeze my hand."

"I'm not a g— grrrr… girl."

Cautiously, Harry placed one hand on Draco's shoulder and took Draco's hand in the other.  "It's okay.  Squeeze if it— Ow!"

Draco took deep breaths and tightly squeezed Harry's hand.  After a minute, his grip loosened and the worst seemed to have passed.

Keeping hold of Draco's hand, Harry spared a glance for Teddy, who was peaceful in his bassinette, and then sat on the edge of Draco's bed.

"Thank you," Draco said, short of breath.

"Better?"

Draco nodded.

~ooOOOoo~

The bond dissolved within an hour of when the Healer Cooligan predicted it would.  Draco looked completely exhausted and was in a great deal of pain.  Cooligan gave him a Pain Potion and Draco quickly fell asleep.  An hour later, Cooligan cast the spell to wake Teddy from his magical coma, but the baby did not stir. 

"What is it?" Andromeda asked, the panic evident in her voice.

"I'm not sure," Cooligan replied, and ran several diagnostic spells.  "He should wake up."  Cooligan turned and began casting diagnostic spells on Draco.

"Something's wrong," Narcissa said.  "What's happening?"

"I'm not sure," replied Cooligan.  "Let me check the notes and ask a few of my colleagues.   I'll be right back." 

The air was thick with tension as they sat silently and waited for Cooligan to return.  It was at least ten minutes before he came back with two other Healers.  They cast a series of additional spells and all of them seemed to be confused by the results.

"You're scaring us, Healer Cooligan.  What is it?" Narcissa asked with forced composure.

"I don't know.  They should both be coming around."

"Draco.  Draco darling, wake up." Narcissa gently patted Draco's hand.  "Draco.  Draco, wake up."  Draco was unresponsive.

Andromeda was lightly rocking Teddy and cooing to him.

Harry felt a sense of dread wash over him as the Healers continued to try to get a response from either Draco or the baby.

"I'm so sorry," Cooligan began.  "I don't know what else we can do.  There's nothing else in the annals.  We did exactly as prescribed.  I think we just have to wait."

"Wait?" Harry yelled.  "That's your expert advice?  Wait?"

"Harry, please," said Andromeda.  "You're not helping.

"I'm sorry," Cooligan apologized again.  "There isn't any more information regarding the procedure or the family history."

"Wait a second," Harry said.  "Kreacher.  Kreacher said that he knew about the magic transfer.  Kreacher!"

Kreacher appeared with a pop.  "Yes, Master Harry?"

"Kreacher, you said that you had seen the curse before.  Who was it?  What did they do?"

"It was the young Masters Regulus and Sirius.  Young Master Regulus was ill, so the Mistress had the Healers come and heal the young Master with his brother's blood and magic."

"Healers come?" Harry said, thinking out loud.  "Come where?"

"To the House of Black, of course.  Kreacher served the young Masters.  Kreacher served his Mistress and—"

"The house!"  Harry exclaimed.  "Kreacher, they did the spells at the house?"

"Yes, Master."

"And Sirius and Regulus were better after a day?"

"Oh yes, the young Masters were sliding down the banisters within a few days."

"Andromeda, take Teddy to Grimmauld Place.  It must be the house.  It must be part of the healing process," Harry said, his heart pounding in his ears.

"Oh, Harry, I don't know," said Andromeda, distraught.

"It has to be.  It's worth a shot," Harry pleaded.

Andromeda nodded, drew Teddy close, and then Disapparated.

Narcissa stared at him in shock as Harry gathered up Draco in his arms.  "Kreacher, take Mrs. Malfoy and Healer Cooligan to Grimmauld Place.  I'll meet you there." 

Harry lifted Draco from the bed and Disapparated.

Moments later they were all in the sitting room in number twelve Grimmauld Place.  Harry still carried Draco in his arms.

"Kreacher, go back and get the bassinette from St. Mungo's and put it in the second floor guest bedroom, the one Hermione sometimes stays in," Harry ordered. 

Everyone followed Harry to the guest bedroom, where he carefully set Draco down on the bed. 

Cooligan immediately began casting spells and seemed to be baffled by the results.  "There's definitely some magic intrinsic to the house.  I'm not sure how it's working, but their vital signs are improving."

"So what now?" asked Andromeda.

"I'd like to repeat the entire sequence of spells and the blood exchange," replied Cooligan.  "I think we'll need to."

They all nodded in agreement.  Harry was beside himself with worry.  He would have to wait another day and hope that it worked.

Once the initial spells were in place and the bond established, Narcissa pulled Harry aside.

"Mr. Potter, I know that it's not your fault that things have not gone well, but the fact is that they have gone poorly.  Draco's life hangs in the balance and I know that my husband would want to be here."

"Oh," Harry said softly, and considered the implications.

"He's under house arrest and has been overwrought with worry since the procedure began.  I'm certain he'll be at his wit's end by now."

"I'll contact Kingsley Shacklebolt," Harry said, trying not to dwell on the idea of having Lucius Malfoy in his home.

"Thank you, Mr. Potter."

~ooOOOoo~

Hermione and Ron appeared in the entrance hall of Grimmauld Place almost immediately after Kingsley had Disapparated with Narcissa Malfoy.

"Oh good, you're back home," Hermione exclaimed, a look of relief on her face.  "We were so worried.   You were supposed to stop by the Burrow, you know."

"Mum baked you a cake," Ron said as he handed over the plate of chocolate cake that he was carefully carrying.  "She always bakes when she's nervous.  I don't want to tell you what our house looks like right now."

"Thanks, mate," Harry replied, examining the large chocolate confection.

"The good news is that I think we've all gained back some weight," Ron added with a smile.  "So how is Teddy?  Did Malfoy give you much trouble?"

"Let me take this into the kitchen." Harry started to walk, and his friends followed him.  "I'm sorry I didn't stop by, but things didn't go very well."  He set the cake on the table and turned back around to see two very concerned faces.  He explained about the procedure, the trip back to the house and about the Aurors on their way with Lucius Malfoy.

"You're a bigger man than me," Ron said, after Harry had finished telling his story.

Hermione and Ron stayed to share some cake and tea.  They brought a piece up to Andromeda, but she had no appetite.  After a lot of prodding, they managed to convince her to at least have some tea and a couple of crackers while Hermione held Teddy.

Ron looked curiously at the still unconscious Malfoy.  "He still looks like a prat, even when he's sleeping."

"He's not so bad," Harry said pensively, and he caught Hermione's interested expression out of the corner of his eye.  "He's been pretty decent about the whole thing actually, and now he's the one paying for our mistakes."

"Oh, Harry, we didn't know," Andromeda said in an attempt to reassure him.

"But we should have.  As soon as we found out about the curse, we wanted to start right away.  I could've asked Kreacher sooner, I could have—"

"The Healers told us what Teddy's best chances were," Andromeda said.  "You can't blame yourself."

Harry walked with Hermione and Ron back downstairs to make sure they left before the Aurors arrived with the Malfoys. 

"Are you sure you wouldn't like us to stay?" Hermione offered sincerely.

"No, I think between Healer Cooligan, the Malfoys and the Aurors, the house will be full enough."

"You know where to find us if you change your mind," Hermione said.

"I know.  Thanks."

"You go ahead, Ron.  Give me a minute with Harry," Hermione said, just as they were about to Apparate.

"All right."  Ron gave Harry a quick hug.  "Shout if you need anything."

"You bet."

After Ron had gone, Hermione gave Harry a look that he couldn't quite decipher.

"What?" he asked.

"What happened with Malfoy?" she asked with an all-knowing sort of inference.

"What do you mean?"

"What I mean is you left for Malfoy Manor hating him, wanting to tie him up and take him to St. Mungo's by force."

"I wasn't that bad."

"Harry, you said, and I quote, 'He'll come, or I'll tie him up and drag him by his silly blond hair if I have to.'"

Harry chuckled.

"So what happened between then and now?" Hermione asked gently.

Harry thought about it for a moment.  "I don't know.  We talked a little bit.  He's more human, somehow.  He was just as young and in trouble as we were.  Well, maybe it's not the same thing… but it's not that different, either."

"Harry, I hope you don't take this the wrong way," Hermione said, and the wheels seemed to be turning inside her head.  "You've always been a tad obsessed with Malfoy."

"Have not!"

She gave him a reproachful look.  "You have, and I think that maybe you are again."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Think about it.  You get very emotional when it comes to Malfoy.  I'm not sure you think too clearly when it concerns him.  Try and take a step back if you can.  Maybe he's different like you said, but be careful.  Please."

"You've lost me."

Hermione pulled him into a tight hug.  "Just take care of yourself and think about what I said."

"Okay."

"And you're a fantastic godfather, the best.  Teddy's so lucky to have you.  He's going to get better.  You'll see."

"Thanks, Hermione."

"Keep us posted, okay?" she asked as she pulled out of the hug.

"I promise."

~ooOOOoo~

An hour after Hermione and Ron had left there was a knock at the front door.  Harry stiffly greeted Lucius and Narcissa along with the two Ministry Aurors assigned as guards.  Harry remembered only briefly seeing the Aurors before, but Kingsley had vouched for them personally.

It took a few minutes to get everyone organized and settled in.  As soon as the guest rooms were sorted, and Kreacher had been instructed to serve the guests whatever they might need, Lucius asked to be taken to Draco.  He gasped audibly as he caught his first glimpse of his son, pale and lifeless next to his equally pale and lifeless infant cousin.

"Lucius," Andromeda greeted him curtly.

"Why is that next to my son?" Lucius snarled.

"Teddy is his cousin and the Healer thought that perhaps it would help strengthen the bond," Andromeda explained, her disdain for Lucius clearly evident.

"Lucius," Narcissa said calmly while taking his arm and leading him over to Draco's side of the bed, "you're not helping matters.  Draco needs you.  We have to set aside our differences."

"But it's their fault that he's ill.  Look at him.  He could die and all because of a Mudblood and a half-breed."

"Lucius, that's enough!" Narcissa cut him off sharply.

"The curse came from the Black's side, the magic side," Harry said.  Lucius may have been angry, but Harry wasn't the least bit intimidated by the unarmed Dark wizard.

Lucius snorted but then reached out his hand and gently brushed the hair from Draco's face.  The sight of such a loving act was almost unfathomable when compared to Lucius' vitriol.  

"Look what you've done to him," Lucius said, not accusatory but with profound sadness.

Narcissa pulled Lucius a step back from the bed and to the two chairs waiting for them.  "Pointing fingers isn't going to help Draco, and it's by their grace that you're invited here."

Harry could see the concern etched on both their faces.  Lucius nodded slowly, but kept his eyes trained on Draco. 

They waited there, sitting quietly, watching, and hoping.  Occasionally, Kreacher would serve something to drink or eat, or Healer Cooligan would check in on them.  Sometimes Andromeda would take Teddy into her arms and coo to him.  Sometimes Narcissa would hold Draco's hand and lovingly stroke the side of his face.  At least once an hour an Auror would check in on Lucius, but Harry thought it rather silly since the man had about a half dozen monitoring spells on him.  They all took turns pacing, stretching and staring out the window to watch the sun descend in the summer sky.  The tension remained palpable beneath the thick layers of care and anxiety.

For the second time in less than twenty-four hours, Healer Cooligan cast the last set of spells and performed the final blood transfer.  With twelve hours to wait, Cooligan left to take a nap on the sitting room sofa.

They were all exhausted and their nerves were shot, so they agreed to get some rest in shifts.  Lucius and Andromeda retired, leaving Harry alone with Narcissa.

"You're staring at me, Mr. Potter," Narcissa said without looking up from her steadfast vigil over her son.

"I was just thinking… you're really a good mother."

"This surprises you?"

"Not anymore."

"Thank you," she replied with a refined self-assurance, and looked up for just a moment to meet Harry's eyes.

~ooOOOoo~

Harry paced the floor quietly trying to keep awake.  He had napped for a few hours, but it wasn't enough to make up for the sleep deprivation of the past few days.  The Malfoys had given in to exhaustion and retreated for another brief nap on the strict orders that Kreacher was to wake them in two hours.   Despite fighting off sleep, Andromeda had succumbed and lay sleeping on a chaise next to Teddy's bassinette.

Harry got excited when he noticed Draco toss and turn a little.  In two long strides, he was at Draco's side, looking on intently as he woke up.

"Where am I?" asked Draco, taking in the unfamiliar surroundings and the bond stretched out between him and Teddy.

"You're in my house, Grimmauld Place.  It belonged to the Blacks," Harry answered softly.

"What's going on?" asked Draco in confusion.

"The treatment didn't work.  Both you and Teddy were… were… failing.  Kreacher told me that the spells had previously been done in the house.  So I Apparated you here and you started to get better.  Then Healer Cooligan restarted the treatment process."

"So you saved me yet again?"

"Yeah, but it's my fault that you needed saving."

"I do believe that's a pattern we keep repeating," said Draco pensively.

The thought hung in the air for a moment.  Harry didn't want to argue, so he asked, "Should I get Healer Cooligan or your parents?"

"My father's here?" asked Draco in pleasant surprise.

Harry explained about his father sleeping in the next room and the Aurors on guard downstairs.  When Draco seemed to have absorbed all of the day's events, Harry said, "I'm sorry I pressured you into this.  I honestly didn't know you'd be in any danger."

"Don't kid yourself.  You still would've asked."

"You're probably right, but at least I could've been more sensitive to what you were risking."

"This may surprise you, Potter, but I don't want to condemn babies to death.  I don't want people to die.  I didn't…" Draco met Harry's eyes for few seconds and then looked away.  "I knew that it was you, Granger and Weasley at the Manor."

"I know," Harry replied.

"Oh," Draco said in surprise.

"Look, I won't deny that for a long time I believed that you were the enemy.  I knew that you were up to something sixth year and I wanted you to pay for it."

"If I'm so evil, then why did you testify on my behalf?  Why didn't you let them cart me off to Azkaban?"

"I didn't say you were evil," Harry replied, still in a hushed tone so as not to wake Andromeda.

"Evil once removed then."

"I didn't think you deserved Azkaban.  I didn't even think that sending your father to Azkaban was going to help make things better.  I wanted people to learn from what Voldemort had done and what he tried to do – stop that, it's just a name," Harry admonished at Draco's cringe.

"He was more than a name," Draco's voice was low and full of dread.

"Yes, he was a man, an evil, evil man, but 'Voldemort' was just a name, a made up name."  Harry paused for minute to collect his thoughts.  "I meant what I said at your hearing.  I never thought you were a killer, and neither did Dumbledore."

Suddenly, Draco winced in pain.

"Here, squeeze my hand," Harry offered, remembering that it seemed to help Draco the last time.

"Are we dating now?" Draco said, trying to be humorous despite the apparent strain in his voice.  Still, he took Harry's proffered hand and gripped it tight.

"You’re going to be all right."  Harry attempted to sound convincing, but he felt the overwhelming doubt within him.

Once Draco had relaxed and settled back down into the pillows, Harry asked, "Do you want me to get anyone?"

"No, let them sleep.  I think I'll be out in a minute anyway."  Draco closed his eyes and breathed in and out deeply.

"All right.  You let me know if you need anything."

Draco nodded and then Harry watched him closely for the next few minutes.  His eyelids, which were squeezed shut in pain before, seemed relaxed and his breathing evened out.  Compelled by something he couldn't quite understand, Harry leaned over the bed and gently kissed Draco on the forehead.

"Don't tell me you've developed a crush," Draco whispered with his eyes still closed.

"Shhh, go back to sleep," Harry said, feeling the flush of embarrassment and hoping that Draco wouldn't remember the kiss in the morning.

~ooOOOoo~

The first time the bond dissolved, Harry was only thinking of Teddy and praying that the procedure worked.  This time he found himself worried about both Teddy and Malfoy. 

Everyone in the room seemed to be holding their breath as Healer Cooligan cast diagnostic spell after diagnostic spell.  All of a sudden, a loud wail from Teddy pierced the silence.  Tears of relief streamed down Andromeda's face as she picked up her grandson from the bassinette and cradled him in her arms. 

The thin wisps of hair on his head began to change colors.  The color morphed from blue to orange to purple to green in the span of a minute.

"That's a good sign, wouldn't you say?" Andromeda asked, her voice raw and emotional.

"I'd say so," Cooligan replied.  "I can't say we know for certain just yet, so I think it best to keep the two of them here in the house for at least a day or two."

Harry carefully studied Narcissa, who was clutching Draco's hand, but looking at her sister with obvious empathy.   She leaned over and kissed Draco on the forehead.  "Wake up, Draco.  Wake up."

"Ennervate," Cooligan said, pointing his wand at Draco's chest.

A few seconds later, Draco's eyelids began to flutter and he slowly came to.

Lucius put his arm around his wife and quietly exclaimed, "Thank Merlin."

Narcissa pulled Draco's hand to her lips and kissed it.  "Oh, mon petit dragon, you scared us so."

"I'm all right, Mother," Draco whispered.  "The baby?"

"He's going to be fine.  You both are," Narcissa answered, her voice was soothing.

Harry let a deep breath and turned his head to see Andromeda smiling happily through her tears.

~ooOOOoo~

Lucius stayed for a few more hours, during which Draco seemed to get stronger and stronger.  Reluctantly, Lucius let the Aurors escort him back to the Manor.  There was a strong sense that the worst was over and Harry found that he could breathe a little more easily both from the positive turn in events and the elder Malfoy's departure.

Narcissa spent the rest of the day at Grimmauld place, but after dinner Draco urged her to go home to get a proper night's rest.  She relented, but only under the condition that Healer Cooligan send for her immediately if there was the slightest hint of a decline in Draco's health.  Andromeda took Teddy, who was hungrily devouring a bottle every few hours, to another room so as to let Draco get his rest as well. 

With everyone settled in, Harry Apparated to the Burrow to give his friends a quick update.  Hermione and Ron kept him there longer than he had meant to stay, and he was quite anxious as he returned home to check on Draco.  He told himself that it was simply because Narcissa had left for the night.

Draco was sleeping peacefully.  Harry was drawn closer to examine the young man's face.  There were no longer lines of pain or discomfort etched around his eyes and mouth.  Draco looked as if he had showered and shaved. Different pyjamas peeked out from under the freshly changed bedclothes.  As he continued to study Draco in detail, Harry felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility.  In that moment, he couldn't help but think of the many, many times their paths had crossed, and how so many of those times had ended in violence.

Bending forward, Harry smelled the fresh scent of soap.  It tickled his nose and made him think of the colored bubbles of the prefect's bath.  Feeling content and ready to get into to his own bed, Harry ghosted a kiss over Draco's forehead.

"Now I'm really starting to believe that you do have a crush," Draco whispered with his eyes still closed.

Harry pulled back in surprise.  "I'm sorry.  I… I thought you were asleep," he whispered back.

"And what is it about my sleeping form that makes you want to kiss me on the forehead?  You know, I do have a mother.  She's in charge of the forehead kissing."

"Sorry," Harry said again, not knowing what else to say.  He couldn’t even explain it to himself, never mind to Malfoy.

"I was almost asleep, too.  Honestly, you want to spy on someone in their sleep, cast a Silencing Charm."  Draco yawned quietly, and then opened his eyes a little to look up at Harry.

"I wasn't spying," Harry replied thoughtfully.

"I suppose the kiss should've tipped me off.  Just what were you doing?"

"I only wanted to look in on you before I went to bed.  I thought I should check up on you… for your mother.  She's truly been great about this whole situation."

"Mother wants to atone for her sins.  Start over with a clean slate," Draco said, sleepiness apparent in his voice.

"Maybe she wants that for you, too."

"Is that even possible?"  Draco asked.

"We could start with us."  Harry suddenly felt quite proud of his peace offering.

"What do you mean?"

"Start over."

"Is that what we've been doing?" asked Draco.

"I think so, yes."

Draco didn't reply straight away.  He closed his eyes and appeared to be going back to sleep.  "Goodnight, Potter," Draco finally muttered, and turned over on his side.

"Goodnight, Malfoy."

~ooOOOoo~

The next morning Harry came down to breakfast to find a full kitchen.  Kreacher was serving eggs and toast to Narcissa and Draco, while Andromeda hummed happily as she fed Teddy a bottle.

They all ate together and made polite small talk.  It was surreal, passing the sugar bowl to Narcissa while Draco made comments about the headlines in the <i>Daily Prophet</i>.

After Kreacher had cleared the dishes, Narcissa pulled a small wrapped package from her robe pocket.  She placed the box on the table and tapped her wand to it.  It elongated several inches, and then she slid the box in front of Draco.

"Happy birthday, darling," she said in the most kind and motherly voice that Harry had ever heard.

Draco looked genuinely surprised.  "I actually forgot.  Can you believe that?"

"It's your birthday?" Harry asked.

"Yes," Narcissa said with a soft smile, then turned back to Draco.  "Now, open your present."

Draco slowly unwrapped the package and seemed to be fully aware that he was teasing his mother, who was anxiously watching for his reaction.  Draco pulled out an ornate silver letter opener from the box.   A regal looking Swedish Short-Snout was carved into the handle.

"It's gorgeous, Mother, but then again you have exquisite taste."  Draco ran is thumb gently over the gleaming silver blade.

"It's been spelled to detect curses and hexes on any letter or package you attempt to open with it," she explained.  "If it detects anything, it won't open it."

"Beautiful and practical.  I'm sure it will come in handy," Draco replied, still taking in the sight of the elegantly carved handle. 

It was true, Harry realized sadly.  Draco probably received cursed post intended as retribution against the Malfoys.

"Your father did the spellwork himself."

"Naturally.  I love it and will treasure it always.  Thank you.   I'll thank father in person tomorrow."  Draco placed the letter opener back into its box.

"Happy birthday, Draco," Andromeda said.

"Yes, happy birthday," Harry added quickly.

"Thanks," Draco replied with an uncomfortable smile.

"We should have a cake tonight.  I'd love to make one for you," offered Andromeda.  "What do you like?"

"There's no need to make a fuss, really," Draco said.

"Nonsense.  It's just a cake," Andromeda said.

"Anything is fine, truly."

"Draco likes apple cake," Narcissa said.  "I'll help."

"Mother?"

"From your reaction, you'd think that I never baked for you," Narcissa teased.

"I remember you buying my birthday cakes," Draco teased back.

"Well, today we bake," Narcissa stated emphatically.  "We have a lot to celebrate."

~ooOOOoo~

The day passed fairly quickly.  Harry took turns with Andromeda caring for Teddy, napping or checking in on the convalescing Draco.  In the afternoon, Harry watched Andromeda and Narcissa bake a cake together.  He was awestruck.  They didn't seem like sisters who hadn't spoken for over twenty-five years.  They seemed close; they worked together comfortably.  Healer Cooligan came by twice to check on his patients and confirmed that it should be safe for Draco to return to the Manor the next day.  Andromeda had decided to take Harry up on his offer for her and Teddy to move in with him, at least temporarily.

After dinner, they all enjoyed the wonderful apple cake.  Draco had a delighted smile plastered on his face with each bite he chewed.  He looked healthy and happy.  Harry tried to remember ever seeing Draco look happy.  Sure, he had seen him sneering in triumph, but happy?  Harry couldn't remember.  After his second piece of cake, Harry excused himself momentarily to fetch the long thin box that he had wrapped that afternoon.

Harry returned to the table and placed it in front of Draco.  "Happy birthday."

"What's this?" Draco's expression turned to one of confusion.

"A birthday present, obviously."

Draco glared at him.

"Open it," Harry urged, and sat down in the seat next to him.

Carefully, Draco unwrapped and opened the box.  He gave a loud gasp when he saw what was inside. 

"What is it?" Narcissa asked curiously.

"Hawthorn and unicorn hair.  Ten inches," Harry answered. 

"His wand?" Narcissa whispered.  She looked as confused as Draco.

"Take it out," Harry gently insisted.

"I… I can't," Draco stammered, staring down in awe at his wand.

"You can.  I'm giving it back to you.  I don't need it anymore and…" Harry touched Draco on the shoulder.  He waited for Draco to look up and meet his eyes before he continued.  "I think you'll put it to good use."

With extreme caution, Draco lifted the wand from the box.  Harry looked over at Narcissa and Andromeda.  They both had tears in their eyes.

"Lumos," whispered Draco.  The wand lit up brightly, and Draco smiled in relief.

"The wand chooses the wizard," Harry whispered.

"Nox."  Draco turned his attention from the wand back to Harry.  "I don't know what to say.  'Thank you' seems wholly inadequate."

"Thank you is fine.  I should be thanking you for saving Teddy's life."

They sat there in silence simply appraising each other and letting the impact of the moment linger.  Just like the night before, Harry felt something stir inside him.  He felt a fierce sense of protectiveness towards Draco and hope for the future.  He also felt something else, the same something that had compelled him to kiss Draco.  The stare went on for longer than was comfortable.  Abruptly Draco stood and announced that he was tired and ready for bed.  Narcissa escorted him upstairs while Harry stayed to help Andromeda clear the dishes.

"That was quite the generous gift," Andromeda said, levitating the teacups from the table to the sink.

"It just felt like the right thing to do."  Harry shrugged his shoulders, and put the milk back into the icebox. 

A loud infant cry emanated from Andromeda's wand.  "Ah, right on schedule," she said.

"I'll go get him," Harry offered.

"Thank you, dear.  I'll warm up a bottle."

Harry went upstairs to fetch his godson.  Teddy stopped crying the minute Harry picked him up.  The tiny baby meant the world to him, and he was going to be there for him.  He changed Teddy's nappy, just like Andromeda had shown him, and then returned to the kitchen.  Andromeda had a bottle ready to go.

"Can I feed it to him?" Harry asked.

"Of course."

Andromeda tidied up the kitchen while Harry settled himself in a chair and fed Teddy.  After she was done, she took the seat next to Harry and looked on affectionately.

"You're a natural," she said.

"Thanks.  He's so small, you know.  He has no idea…" Harry let his thought trail out.  The last thing he wanted was to get into a morbid conversation.  They all had lost so much.  There was no need to dwell on it.

"You're getting on well with my nephew," Andromeda said, changing the subject.

"Surprising, isn't it?"

"Is it?"

Harry smiled sheepishly.  "Yes, it is."

"I had a nice talk with him today.  He asked if after he went home to the Manor, he could see Teddy again."

Harry nodded and thought about the utter horror of Andromeda losing her whole family.  She seemed to be rebuilding it, probably as much for her own sake as for Teddy's.  She was now reunited with her sister and had a grown nephew that she had never known.  Harry imagined that he was included somewhere in that new family as well.  With all his heart, he solemnly wanted that family for Teddy, the family that he had never had.

"I saw Draco holding Teddy today," Harry said.  "As much as he probably hates to admit, I think he likes his baby cousin."

"I think he likes you too," Andromeda stated.

Harry felt himself blush.  He was blushing?  "I think we managed to call a truce for the sake of breaking the curse."

"No," Andromeda said with certainty, "I think he likes you and I think you're attracted to him as well."

"Attracted?  What?  No."  Harry pulled the bottle back from Teddy and stared at Andromeda in shock.  The baby began to fuss.  Harry looked down and realized what he had done.  He returned the nipple to Teddy's eager mouth.

"You can't argue with me.  I can tell these things.  I could tell with Nymphadora.  She fought it too.  Though not as much as Remus, of course."  Andromeda seemed lost in thought for a moment, but then continued.  "You and Draco have always been on opposite sides.  You've never had the opportunity to get to know each other.  I'd say he's just as surprised as you are."

"Surprised?  I'm not surprised.  I'm not anything.  I don't like… I don't like boys that way," Harry said defensively.

"Oh, that's right.  Ted talked about that sometimes."

"What?"

"I remember our seventh year at Hogwarts.  He was so shocked at all the same sex couples," Andromeda said, noticeably reminiscing in her own mind.  "I think the Muggle world has slightly different views.  Most witches and wizards don't really give it much thought.  Amazing, given how blood status was so important.  I think for most of us, we find love where we find love."

"Love?"

"I'm putting the cart before the horse, aren't I?" Andromeda chuckled lightly.

"What?  There's no cart.  There's no horse."

They were interrupted by the loud sound of air being sucked from an empty bottle.  Harry pulled the bottle away, and Andromeda reached out for her grandson.  The moment she picked him up, he let out a hearty burp.

"That's my good boy," she cooed to him.  "I think I'll take him upstairs, now.

Harry sat in the kitchen completely flabbergasted.  He was not gay.  He liked girls.  Well, he liked Cho and Ginny.  Only he wasn't thinking of Ginny lately.  So he had an odd dream or two about his male classmates in his sixth year.  Everyone had those.  Perfectly normal, right?  Not that his life had ever been normal.  Okay, maybe he did like both boys and girls, not that he ever had time to really think about it before.  But Draco Malfoy?  That made no sense.

Getting ready for bed, Harry kept thinking about what Andromeda had said.  He was thinking about Draco, but that was because of the situation.  He had risked his life to save Teddy.  So then why did he want to kiss Draco?  Why was he upset that Draco would be leaving tomorrow?   Harry turned the events and conversations of the past few days over and over in his head.  He thought of Draco's smile as he savored every last bite of his birthday cake.  He thought of Draco's reaction to the wand. It took several hours before he was finally able to fall asleep.

~ooOOOoo~

In the morning, Harry found Draco alone in his room, packing up the few things that his mother had brought for him.

"When are you leaving?" Harry asked.

"Eager to get rid of me?" Draco asked with his familiar sneer.

"No, that's not why—" Harry said feeling awkward and embarrassed.  "I just wanted to make sure to say goodbye… and thank you again."

"Oh," replied Draco, the expression on his face softening.  "I told mother I'd come straight away."  Draco picked up his hawthorn wand from the bed.  "Now that I have my old wand back, I suppose I can just Apparate."

Harry nodded.

"Thank you," Draco said with sincerity.  "I didn't think that I'd ever—"

"You're welcome."

Harry took in the sight of Draco for a moment.  He was dressed in traditional wizard robes.  They were a rich royal blue with silver trim that brought out the color of Draco's eyes.  Harry thought him handsome.  Andromeda was right.  He was attracted to Draco.  Suddenly, Harry felt nervous and had no idea what to say.  Draco also looked like he wanted to say something but didn't know how to go about it.

"I'm glad you're going to be all right.  I had no idea there was any danger, and if Kreacher hadn't told me…"  Harry's thought trailed off awkwardly.

"You're glad I'm not dead, how touching," Draco teased.

"I never wanted—"

"Stop.  I know."

Harry thought of the Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement and remembered Draco's screams. 

"This 'starting over' deal – was that just while I was here, or…" Draco began to ask.

"What?"

"After today, will this be the last I'll see of you?"  Draco finished his question.

"Well, I'm sure Andromeda would like to see more of you.  That is, if you want."

"What about you?  Do you want to see what happens when the rest of the world exists again?"

Silence stretched out between them like the rails of the Hogwarts Express line.  A few days earlier, Harry would have thought that he'd gladly avoid Malfoy for the rest of his life, but now…

Harry took a cautious step forward.  "I'd like to see you again."

Draco's eyes narrowed and he seemed to be considering Harry's response.  Harry took another step closer, then another, and another, until he stood a mere few inches directly in front of Draco.  Harry saw Draco lick his lips and that was it.  It may have been the craziest thing he had ever considered, but he couldn't help himself.  He leaned forward and whispered in Draco's ear, "I think I have a crush."

"Who's the lucky guy?" asked Draco.

It took Harry a moment to fully read between the lines of Draco's reply.  "You," he whispered back.

Draco smiled, and Harry was mesmerized.  He warily put his arms around Draco and pulled him even closer.  Harry wasn't even sure who started it, but they kissed, kissed like they had never been enemies, like they had never hated each other.  Draco's arms snaked around him, holding him tightly, and it was better than anything he had ever remembered about kissing.

"This is insane," Harry said, after he had finally pulled back to get a breath of air into his lungs.

"Most assuredly.  Kiss me again," Draco demanded.

Harry obliged all the while thinking, I'm kissing Draco Malfoy and I like it… a lot

They kissed and let their hands explore each other's arms, backs and shoulders. Harry threaded his hand through Draco's hair.  It was fine and soft, and made Harry want to put his nose in it and suck on Draco's neck.  So he did.  Harry felt himself wanting other things as well.

Draco pried himself away panting and gasping for air.   "We should probably stop before this gets out of hand."

"I think it already has," Harry replied in between heavy breaths.

"Yes, but we should probably slow things down."

"I'm a Gryffindor; I like to rush in where angels fear to tread."

"That's fools rush in," Draco said with a savvy smile.

"That too."

"Why is it that I used to find you annoying and now I find you charming?"

"Perspective?" Harry asked cheekily, and then tried to pull Draco back for another kiss. 

Draco shook his head.  "I need to go; Mother's expecting me."

"Oh," Harry said, fear and disappointment washing over him.

"But, I could come back."

Harry smiled, and asked, "Later today?"

"How about tomorrow?  It does you no good to seem so eager.  I'm bound to take advantage of it." 

"Slytherin," Harry teased.

"And don't you forget it."  Draco picked up his small bag, and slinging the strap over his shoulder, he took a last look around the room. "I'll send you an owl."

Harry reached out and touched Draco's shoulder.  "I'm glad we're starting over."

"Me too," Draco said with a shyness that Harry wouldn't have necessarily associated with the other young man.

"Thank you for saving Teddy's life."

Draco looked as if he was about to make some pithy retort, but instead closed his mouth and gave Harry a resolute and content look.  "You're welcome."




The End




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