Part 5 - Scratch
Make a small glow.
Make it to move
the heart, that has sat down
in the road,
and waits for something
to turn it over...
The roomy heart,
willing to be surprised.
Robyn Sarah, Scratch
When Draco woke, it was because there was light hitting him in the face with an almost physically brutal force. It pried at the edges of his consciousness, demanding audience. He refused, squeezed his eyes shut tight, trying to find a dark refuge which no longer seemed to exist. The fact that there was light at all seemed profoundly wrong to him, as though the sun had risen in the middle of the night. He felt sore. Turning over was painful; his arms, legs, his back, chest, stomach, and even his face were itchy, burning. When he went to bed the night before, he had felt nauseated and dizzy. And now everything felt wrong. When he opened his eyes, Crabbe and Goyle were standing on either side of his bed, curtains held back by their thick hands, letting the light beam straight into his eyes. He groaned.
"What are you dolts staring at?" He grunted. His voice was raw and even his throat itched.
"You're " Crabbe started. "You're "
Draco blinked tiredly and pressed his hand against his forehead. "I'm burning up, I'm sick. Leave me alone."
"You're " Goyle said, his lips twisting.
" Covered in spots, Draco."
Draco sat up, feeling as though he might pass out, throw up, or both, and lay back down again. "I'm what?" He touched his cheek, feeling bumps, and cringed. No wonder he felt so itchy. He rolled his eyes and groaned. Suddenly they heard footsteps from the hall, and laughter.
"Er " Crabbe mumbled something under his breath, and was interrupted by the door slamming open, and Millicent's thick form pounding into the room, talking over her shoulder. "I hear he's looking very spotty, I want to see." She pushed Goyle aside, hopped up on the edge of Draco bed and peered down at him.
"Oh would you LOOK at him!" Millicent laughed loudly. "Oh my God, he looks like a six-year-old! Draco, you've got chicken pox, you baby." Draco glared, a look which normally would frighten Millicent a little, but now, which his face covered with red spots, it just made her laugh more. "Aww, look at the ickle boy!" She leaned over and ruffled his hair roughly, laughing.
Unfortunately for Millicent, Draco had several rather raw bumps on his scalp, which she managed to tweak quite painfully. In spite of being draggy and nauseated and feeling utterly wretched, it took Draco absolutely no time at all to form a fist and throw it fast and hard into Millicent's jaw. She screamed and fell to the floor.
Draco turned, carefully, onto his side, back to the now crying and howling Millicent. "Get her out of here." Crabbe and Goyle looked at each other. Millicent whimpered, hauling herself to her feet.
"You'll pay for that, you scabby, digusting little" Goyle clamped a hand over her mouth and escorted her out of their room.
Harry sneezed. The incense in Divination class was thicker than usual, and his eyes were stinging. He got up from the his seat and moved over toward the window, opening it up and taking a deep breath, leaning his elbows against the window frame. While annoying and pointless, this class did offer one of the best views Hogwarts had to offer. Nestled high up in one of the towers, in what was little more than a renovated attic, The small rounded windows of the classroom offered a view of the Quidditch pitch, the herbology garden, and the lake, stretching out long and blueish-black into the line of trees in the distance. Harry pressed his hands against the sun-warmed slate shingles of the roof, inching his hands down and leaning forward to catch a bit of the breeze against his face. He could even see Hogsmeade from here, the little brown and red roofs, tan spires and the white clock tower reaching into the near-cloudless sky. From this distance, too far to see people, movement, or signs of life at all, Harry imagined that the village was empty, as if its inhabitants had left in a panic moments before, leaving fires burning in their hearths, smoke inching in thin streams from the chimneys, laundry pegged on lines flapping in the breeze, doors left open and banging in the wind. He sneezed again.
"Harry, dear," Professor Trelawney said mournfully, patting him on the shoulder. He half-turned, face still angled toward the window, one hand rubbing his eyes and the other still pressed against the warm roof. "You're ill. This doesn't bode well at all, would you like to go have a talk with Madam Pomfrey? Perhaps she can give you something to ease the suffering, as you well, yes, something to make these last er, something to make you more comfortable. Perhaps " She trailed off into a moaning ramble as Harry shook his head, and turned to look out the window again, squinting and pressing his glasses against the bridge of his nose. He was feeling particularly pensive, thinking about Voldemort, thinking about his godfather, about his parents, the mass destruction that seemed poised to rain down on the world. He felt as though he were at the centre of it, again. The rest of the students were working studiously on their divination, and he had left his tea and charms on the table next to Ron. While this class was annoying and usually just silly, one of the benefits was it's laxness; Harry found he could stop and start, wander the halls, stare out the window, get down on the floor and stretch his legs, all in the name of some form of divination or other. Rolling a bit of dust between his fingers and eyes trained out the window to the farthest point west, he thought he could just make up the train in the distance, red and snaking its way through the hills toward Hogsmeade. Professor Trelawney had stopped pestering Harry, and had instead pulled on Millicent's scrying bowl and peered into it.
"Very nice work, my dear." She whispered. "I see something similar in my crystals. Something is afoot, yes indeed " Millicent smiled, shot a quick glance at Harry, smirked, and then looked back into her bowl of water.
"Professor Trelawney, I think Potter should go to the hospital wing. I think I see him throwing himself out of that window and falling to a bloody death. I think I" she gasped, as if in pain, "I can see his suffering so terribly, professor, it's awful!" Right on cue, Millicent burst into a torrent of tears which spilled unchecked across her cheeks and dripped onto the collar of her robe. She choked and sniffled and screwed up her face, looking sadly at professor Trelawney, and motioning to her scrying bowl. Harry shot her a dry glare. He was mildly in awe with Millicent's acting abilities. Hermione was less than impressed, and snorted loudly when marks were posted and Millicent was declared the top divination student. "Judged purely on the basis of the volume of her howl, no doubt," she scoffed, still sore over her second place finish in Arithmancy.
Millicent was daubing at her eyes with her fingers now, trembling violently and erupting in random fitful statements ("Blood! Playgrounds and mazes, rats, and mazes. Cheese! Floating wands! Hippogryffs! Oh, help, Hippogryffs, everywhere!") and collapsed in a well-executed faint into the arms of Justin Finch-Fletchley, who looked profoundly concerned.
"Maybe you should get to the hospital wing, Harry," he said tightly. He handed Millicent a hankerchief from his pocket as Professor Trelawney fanned with her an elegant Chinese fan.
"Yes, Harry, perhaps you should." Professor Trelawney's forehead was a mass of furrows. She checked Millicent's pulse and looked up. "Ms. Phoenix, would you kindly escort Mr. Potter to the hospital wing?" Anna Phoenix had been scribbling notes on a thick pad of paper with a old blue ballpoint pen, chewed to fraying on the end, and looked up sharply as her name was called. She was one of the few students at Hogwarts to completely eschew quills in favour of these cheap, slim plastic instruments. Harry respected this; she got a few odd looks from her classmates, but she didn't care.
Anna flashed a quick grin at Harry, and stood. "Yes, certainly Professor." Harry smiled back.
"Now, straight to the hospital wing, I will check in with Madam Pomfrey shortly, so no dawdling. I do hope" she gave Harry a sad look, patted his arm, and looked back toward Millicent. "Well, I think I can handle poor dear Millicent, but do watch yourself, Mr. Potter." Harry nodded seriously, but chuckled as they shuffled down the ladder and out into the hallway below.
"That woman," Harry noted, sliding his hand along the smooth wood of the banister as they walked downstairs, "is barking mad."
Anna smiled. "Well, she does have her moments, doesn't she." She looked down at the hem on her sweater, pulling a bit of fluff and dust from it; a reminder of the rather untidy classroom she had just left. "At least when she gets it right, she's really right."
"What," Harry stopped on the stair and turned on his heel. "Do you believe in that stuff?"
She shrugged. "Well, if I've learned one thing in the last seven years, it's not to rule anything out." Anna, like Hermione, was muggle-born, and while quiet and non-intrusive, was probably one of the more bold muggle-born students at Hogwarts. She had been sorely disappointed in her first year that the school had no electricity, and therefore her heavy synthesizer, which she had lugged up on her own from the train, afraid it might get battered around, was useless. So she had instead insisted on access to a piano, which had been granted to her. She was perhaps the only first year student with permission to be traipsing around the school after hours, but only, Professor Flitwick had insisted, until nine o'clock.
"Though sometimes," Anna had admitted to Harry as they sat side by side on her piano bench several evenings prior, "I stay until nine-thirty. No one seems to mind. Professor McGonagall likes Mozart best, so if I'm really late I play Mozart."
"Play me some Mozart, Anna." Harry had moved then to push her long, dark hair back off her shoulder, and it hung loosely down her back. ("Definitely wear your hair down," Mandy Brocklehurst had said, running a brush through Anna's hair. "Your hair is so pretty down. Harry will like that, I'm sure.") She smiled, blushed a little, and played, with perhaps a few more mistakes than normal, since the weight of Harry's arm around her waist distracted her. She was glad she chose to play a piece she knew well, or she might have just stopped playing altogether and embarrassed herself completely.
"Well, I suppose there's that. But Trelawney, she well, she can't even distinguish between lies like Millicent's and well, whatever else." They turned a corner, heading south down a sloping corridor.
Anna nodded. "Yes, I know, she does tend to get a little enthusiastic about what students see. It's in her best interests to believe, rather than not. It's in her to have faith, I think. I like her for that." Harry hmmed non-commitally. "You don't believe it? Let me see your hands." Harry raised an eyebrow. "No, really, let me see. I did my term project on palmistry last year. Let's have a look."
Harry sighed and held out his hands. Anna took them, cradled them in her own, and looked. "You have artist hands," She said.
"I'm supposed to be an artist?" Harry was incredulous.
"Well, it doesn't mean that you're an artist, it's a kind of hand. Let's see it does mean that well, that you give the people around you a tremendous amount of love. It also means you tend to daydream a fair bit. Your hands aren't really long or short, so I'd say you have good health, and are dilligent and adaptable." She stroked his palm. "You have a firm hand, which indicates that you have views that are important to you, but you aren't inflexible. And " she peering into his hands. "You don't have an angry disposition."
"You can tell all this from looking at my hands?"
"Im not finished yet." She inspected his thumbs and fingers. "You tend to act before you think. You are a natural leader, with a tremendous amount of sympathy for others. That also indicates, um. Well." She blushed. "Indicates a substantial sexual appetite." He snorted. She cleared her throat and kept searching his fingers. "You don't like to take risks, and you're not very eloquent. Sorry, Harry, but that's dead on. You are, of course, very courageous. Wouldn't be in Gryffindor without that, no doubt. You will stay healthy and strong, and be surrounded by people who love you in the future. And it seems that you will get your heart's desire. Very strong sun line. And you will fall in love wow, three times, Harry. That's quite a lot, really." She smiled. "Some people don't even fall in love once, you know. Lucky you." She pushed his right hand into a fist, and frowned. "Only two people, though. That doesn't make sense."
Harry shook his head and laughed. "Well, either my hands are mathematically confused, or palmistry might not hold all truths about my future." Anna let go of his hands and sniffed.
"Well, believe what you will." She said, and turned, walking southwards down the corridor toward the hospital wing. "Come on then, silly. Trelawney will be sick with dread if we don't make it to the hospital wing shortly. I swear she has a sixth sense about these sorts of things."
Anna took him as far as the entrance to the hospital wing. "I'd better get back, " she said, glancing at her watch. "I left all my things, and I'll have to nip off to Transfiguration shortly. She smiled, leaned toward him, and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. "Have fun!" She said, and ran off down the hall again. Harry chuckled and shook his head.
The hospital wing was, as usual, breezy, cool, and quiet. He walked in and looked around. Madam Pomfrey wasn't in her office. He looked around one corner, seeing an unbroken line of empty beds, and then around another.
Suddenly Harry understood why Millicent had made such a scene. Sitting on a cot by the window was Malfoy, attended by Madam Pomfrey. He was wearing only a loose pair of flannel pants, and these were slipping off his hips. His back, facing Harry, was covered with a mass of ugly red spots, inching up along the nape of his neck and shoulders, sprouting in clusters down along his arms. He sat with his hands lying open on the wool blanket, and Harry could see that even the palms of his hands were covered with these angry bumps. Madam Pomfrey sat on a stool in front of him, daubing at him with a cotton ball, a blue bottle in her other hand.
"I know it hurts, love," she was saying. "Just be patient. You'll be fine in a couple of days." Malfoy grunted and lowered his head.
Harry remembered the chicken pox. He had come down with a horrible case of it when he was ten, and Dudley had teased him relentlessly, even though his mother had forbade him going anywhere near Harry's closet under the stairs.
"Look at you, you crusty crybaby!" Dudley had giggled. "You're going to be red and pimply and ugly for the rest of your life!"
Harry had believed it. He looked at himself in the mirror, red and bleeding and itchy, and remembered what he had heard about lepers, living on the edge of town, their ears falling off, people dropping the occasional coin in their tin cups. They never looked up at you, because they feared that if they did, their eyelids might fall off, and they would never have any rest from the glares of the world.
Shortly thereafter Dudley had come down with a case of it himself, quickly followed by Uncle Vernon. They had not known, until then, that Uncle Vernon had not been exposed to the chicken pox before. While Harry and Dudley suffered in their separate rooms, Harry realized that Uncle Vernon suffered far more than either of them; it seemed that the chicken pox was far, far worse for adults than it was for children. Uncle Vernon had moaned and groaned, vomiting and sweating and wincing, unable to eat or sleep properly, unable to sit or lie down comfortably, and he was too weak to stand. It had taken a good month for him to return to his normal hateful self. At the time Harry felt that this was just retribution, and he watched his own pustules heal over and disappear. Now all he was left with was the memory of that itchy week, and three scars; one on his shoulder, one on his right hip, and another behind his knee.
Harry thought it was quite cruel of Millicent to make Malfoy's suffering public. Certainly that was the goal, sending Harry here. She must image that Harry would laugh, perhaps get pictures, pass them around. Draco Malfoy, so proud of his appearance, so carefully put together, covered with welts and bumps, itchy, green with nausea and half-naked, looking utterly wretched. I thought those two were friends, Harry thought. Some friend.
"Oh, Mr. Potter! Professor Trelawney informed me that I should be expecting you. I see you made it here in one piece." She said rather sarcastically, rolling her eyes, not noticing that Malfoy had stiffened. Harry, however, noticed. He was caught between feeling some sense of justice (it had only been a couple of weeks ago that he had made those horrible comments about Neville's parents, after all, and wasn't he always the worst kind of prick imaginable?) and feeling rather sorry for him.
"Yes, indeed I did. I'm really fine, though. The incense was making me sneeze, that's all."
Madam Pomfrey hmmed. "I'm sure it was. Could you give me a hand, love? Do you see that blue bottle on my desk? No the yes, that one. Could you bring it to me? Mr. Malfoy here needs more of it than I anticipated." She hesitiated. "You have had the chicken pox before, haven't you, Mr. Potter?"
Harry grabbed the bottle. "Yes, I have. When I was ten." He walked hesitatingly over to Madam Pomfrey. Malfoy was looking down, avoiding Harry's eyes. It was hard not to notice the mess his face had become; Malfoy had gotten a horrible strain. His cheeks were covered with bumps, his skin was red and puffy and irritated by whatever it was inside that blue bottle. Harry couldn't tell if he was blushing or not. His chest and stomach were even worse; he looked as if he had just in a brawl and come out on the losing end. At least the liquid in the bottle was helping; the pustules were shrinking rapidly. "Chicken pox is awful." Harry noted, "I'm glad I can't get it twice." He handed her the bottle. He watched Malfoy bite his lip, and then wince, finding another bump there as well. Harry remembered what that felt like.
"Millicent sends her love, Malfoy," he said wryly, less impressed with her by the moment. What a horrible thing to do. Malfoy grunted, and shot Harry a dirty look. Harry just grinned wickedly. "Madam Pomfrey, I think it really should have been Millicent who was sent down here instead of me. She asked me if you could prescribe a laxative for her. She's nearly doubled over in Diviniation class, poor thing." Malfoy chuckled quietly.
"I didn't think she looked well when I saw her this morning," he added. His voice sounded raw and wet; Harry remembered what it was like, having those ugly spots on your throat, your tongue, the insides of your cheeks. But the thought of Millicent getting a large dose of laxative unawares was still too funny to forget.
"Oh my. Yes indeed, I'll see to that shortly." She was wrestling with the cap on the bottle. "Thank you, dear. You're quite alright then?"
"Yes, quite alright." Harry was trying very hard not to laugh, and Malfoy was grinning madly himself, head down, looking sideways at Harry.
"You can go then." She unscrewed the cap, spilling a little of the white fluid on the floor, where it sizzled.
"Thanks." Harry turned. "Get well soon, Malfoy. I'm going to beat you fair and square at Quidditch on Friday."
"You hope you will, Potter." They both smiled.
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