Author's Notes: Well well, here we go! This was an exhausting part, but maybe just because it was an exhausting day. Thanks to everyone who's reviewing! I can't tell you how much it means to me.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, settings, or spells. I am only borrowing them to entertain myself and a few others. Don't make me stop this car, do you hear me?
Chapter Three - Delusions and Confrontations
By Ivy Blossom
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Malfoy," Dumbledore nodded at them from the fireplace. He looked at each of them expectantly. "I thought I might be hearing from the two of you this morning."
Harry sighed. "So you know what's happened, what we're afraid has happened my scar has been hurting again, and Draco's Mark "
"Has returned to its former clarity? Yes. Professor Snape has been in to speak with me this morning as well. I have heard you took a bit of a fall this morning at the Ministry, Harry. I hope you are recovering?" Harry nodded dumbly.
Dumbledore sighed. "The walls of any prison, even a well-fashioned one, can only hold for so long, I'm afraid. I awoke in the night to find it gone. Draco, you should know " he looked concernedly at the blond man. "This means that your father is also abroad again." Draco nodded, and Dumbledore continued. "We do not know yet who is harbouring Voldemort, but work on that question has begun. The properties of the charm have bought us time, at the very least; whoever freed Voldemort has a considerable job on his hands. Not only is Voldemort without a body, but he is weak, tremendously weak. He was weak when Professor Quirrell played host to him; he is even weaker now. But the Mark has been reignited, his return has been heralded, and doubtless his remaining followers are abiding by the call. We, also, must prepare ourselves."
There was a moment of quiet, and Harry watched the flames crackle and dance in front of him. "Professor," he said quietly. "I'm also seeing things. Horrid things. I can't seem to control it."
Dumbledore hmmed, stroking his beard. "Yes, Harry, we feared it might be so. When a consciousness spends time in another's body, even for a short time well, you know you've always had a connection to Voldemort, ever since you survived his curse. Now that connection is quite a lot stronger. He is angry, very angry, and the strength of that anger is reflecting into you. It may be of some use in the end, but for the moment you should take steps to lessen its effect. There is a potion that will be of some use at least, it will stop you from seeing Voldemort in the faces of others." Draco stood nervously, pulling out a thick tome from a shelf above the mantel, sat down on the ottoman, and flipped through its pages. Dumbledore nodded. "The Aminoran potion, Draco, I believe you know it? It requires a few extra ingredients, however, under the circumstances." Harry's mind was drifting. He saw a series of images; a pale woman, clutching a knife, looking terrified; a small, bleeding child; a cold heath; he felt dread creeping up over him, his skin growing cold. He could hear Dumbledore reciting ingredients (" Bergamot, just a pinch; half a thimble of dulse, and a quarter of a cup of wolf's milk.") He blinked, trying to focus on what Dumbledore was saying. " do keep me informed. Harry?" He looked up. "I think you're in good hands here. Give my regards to Mr. Weasley."
Draco wandered through Diagon Alley in a bit of a daze, half-expecting to run into his father around every corner. Draco, he would spit. You traitor. As if he were one to talk. Draco was very well aware of the flipping loyalties his father had exhibited: Voldemort supporter in the early days; cleared of Death Eater charges after Harry nearly destroyed the Dark Lord; highly-placed Ministry official, trusted by the Minister himself; turncoat, sniveling back to Voldemort's side when he seemed well-placed to win. Draco knew, in the kind of half-light of knowing, that his father had definitively chosen his side of the battle at the same time as Draco had chosen his. Draco had tried to save Harry; his father had tried to save Voldemort. Both failed. What would become of them now? Draco imagined himself target the second, only after the most obvious, most stubborn, target the first.
That target Draco had left tucked into his bed, purple forehead pulsing angrily, fast asleep. Harry had been reassured by Dumbledore's words; Voldemort would not nip into his flat for a visit today, his strange visions were merely reflections, the burning in his arms and legs a kind of vestigial memory of Voldemort's venomous presence in his body. At the same time, his energy was ebbing from him with every strange vision he had, which seemed to be getting worse. He had started screaming in the bathroom when his own reflection had stared back at him bleeding and dismembered. He looked dizzy, his eyes weren't focussing properly, but he insisted on talking, wandering around his flat, casting spells. Alarms, traps, locks. He talked about Voldemort, about Ron, Hermione and the muggles associated with the ministry; he talked about scattered Death Eaters, about new spells, protections. He told Draco that they would protect him from his father.
Draco didn't want to talk about it. Lost in his own thoughts, took his wand with him into the kitchen to clean up the breakfast dishes, and made a point of tidying up the mass of books and papers spread liberally over the table. He poured Harry and himself a glass of pumpkin juice, Harry's spiked with a sleeping draught. As he had expected to, Draco watched Harry fall asleep against his shoulder, and didn't leave him until his breathing evened out.
Draco knew Dumbledore was right. If the prison had been lifted only last night, neither Voldemort or his father would be in any shape to make an appearance yet. Not yet. But Draco knew that burning in his arm was a silent finger pointing straight into his face; I know you can feel this, you cowardly traitors. Go running to the muggle-lovers the moment my back is turned, will you? This isn't a warning. This is a threat. Draco knew that their advantage was slight. Whoever had managed to get around Dumbledore's defenses, to lift a carefully guarded item from right under Dumbledore's nose, certainly had more of a plan than to sit and wait until a group of armed muggles arrived with their guns blazing.
Draco had collected the ingredients he would need to make up Harry's cure from that ceaseless delusion. Good thing one of us paid attention to Snape in Potions. He wandered back into muggle territory, picking over vegetables at an overflowing market stall. Potions can be wonderful things, but even at their best, they leave one feeling a bit stretched out and wanting, like a plant left too long without water. If he must exist on potions for months, at least I can feed him properly. Draco sighed at himself, again. He felt responsible. Had he not agreed to betray Harry, he wouldn't be needing these potions in the first place. He knew, wryly, that his desire to protect Harry was ill-timed at best.
When Draco pushed open the door to Harry's flat an hour later, a large paper bag filled to the top in each arm, the first thing he saw was Harry, in his underwear, holding a knife against an invisible foe, the blade bent back alarmingly toward his own neck. Draco dropped the bags and ran for Harry, speaking as calmly as he could.
"Harry, Harry, remember, it's not real. There's nothing there." Harry raised the knife in his hand, unseeing eyes seething. Draco grabbed his wrists and threw him back against the wall, trying to shake the knife out of his hand. "Harry!" He said firmly. "Come back, it's okay, it's only me."
"You bastard!" Harry was screaming, kicking, writhing against the wall. Draco pressed him against, the wall, immobilized him with his body. Just then, Draco heard the door unlatch behind him, booted feet on the hardwood floor. Harry was still screaming, struggling against Draco, and him heard another voice call out, "Get off him, you slimy traitor!" As he felt himself attacked from behind and pulled away from Harry. Ron punched him in the face, kneed him in the stomach, grabbed the edges of his shirt around his neck and pulled Draco into his face, hollering vague obscenities at him while Harry collapsed onto the floor. In one smooth move, Draco kicked out Ron knees and reached for his throat. Ron fell, with Draco firmly on top of him.
"Weasley," Draco hissed through clenched teeth. "much as I relish the idea of beating the crap out of you, will you please LET GO OF ME so we can help Harry?" He had one hand clenched around Ron's throat, the other had a firm grip on Ron's hair. Ron growled, and shot a glance toward Harry, and let go of Draco's shirt. Draco gave him a dead stare, and released him, rolling over him and moving to scoop up Harry. Ron pushed him aside.
"What did you do to him, you filthy"
"Ron." Harry groaned. "Don't start. Sit down and I'll explain." His voice was weak and thin. Draco watched as Ron helped Harry up and moved him toward the couch.
"Bit late for not starting." He noted angrily. He turned in disgust, picking up the bags he had dropped, and stomped off to the kitchen to prepare Harry's potion.
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