After the war, the survivors try to find a way to cope with the losses they have incurred and move into a future they have yet to create. As they try to find ways to save themselves, they realize that perhaps the best way is to save each other.
This story will eventually be Harry Draco Slash. It will probably take a while to get there from here. This chapter is rated for general audiences.
Posted so far: 13 Chapters / 66,878 words.
Again and still: thanks to my betas ivyingarden and rosskpr . Their help makes this a better fic, between brainstorming, catching errors in grammar and canon, reviewing plot flow, and supplying encourangement to "write write write". Any errors after the two of them have combed through the work are from the author not paying attention!
Harry Potter, his friends, his enemies, and the lovely world they live in all belong to JK Rowling. I play here.
Once again, my chapters are too long for LJ. Note Chapter 13B follows this.
As always, reviews and critiques keep the creativity flowing! Let me know what you think!
On to the Chapter
Chapter 13 A
Medicine is Only Magic
May 6, 1998
By the end of the next day, three more volunteers had been brought to the hospital wing with the same symptoms as Angus Thelbren. Poppy had searched her library for illnesses or curses with those symptoms, and quizzed the Mediwizards and Mediwitches on loan from St Mungo’s, but they were all as perplexed as she was.
She checked what spells those affected had been using, where they had been working, who they had been working with, and even what they had had to eat that day, but could find no pattern.
Mr Thelbren’s sores had continued to spread, and the other patients showed similar progression, despite her best efforts to slow their body processes. Poppy had consulted by floo with a specialized Mediwitch at St Mungo’s that morning; the Mediwitch had referred her to a specialized diagnostic charm that tracked a patient’s magical core over time. It revealed that the dark shadows infecting his magic were likewise spreading.
Without a solid diagnosis, and contagion a real possibility, she had cleared one ward, despite the space limitations under which she worked, and moved all four patients to that ward, incanting a glowing contagion warning onto the door. With no guide as to what to do, she was forced to go back to basics.
She gathered together a strong pain relieving potion and an anti-nausea potion that would not interact with each other, and set them on the bedside table. If she could get his pain and nausea under control, she could begin to address the other, more severe issues. Before starting her tests, she cast a neutral shield between Mr Thelbren’s bed and the others in the ward, and then ran a few diagnostics on the man. Mr Thelbren’s sleeping body had cooled due to the slowed body processes, yet even that had not prevented the taint to his magic from starting to affect his organs. She had to act soon or it would be too late for him. Carefully, she unwove the spell that had slowed them, bringing him out of the artificially induced sleep.
He woke with a cry of pain and a burst of magic which rattled the windows and knocked one painting off the wall. It was not the guardian portrait, thankfully, just a seascape which emitted a calming sound of surf (now slightly distorted). When she was fairly certain the burst would not continue, Poppy held his head and dosed him with the nausea inhibitor first, and then the pain potion when it looked like it would stay down.
The lesion on his cheek had blossomed into a magenta-stained bruise in just that short time. Dark lines were spreading out from the bruise, like roots seeking soil. Poppy cast a spell to retard the spread of toxins, but the dark lines only seemed to grow faster.
Looking at her with pleading eyes, Mr Thelbren whispered, “Help me.”
Poppy rewove the spells that slowed her patient’s disease, watching as he fell back under its effects, unconscious once again. She didn’t like feeling helpless. She had experienced that too often over the past year, and never wanted to feel it again.
She cleaned up from her attempt, and went to note the results in her files.
A knock at the open door interrupted her before she had made it halfway through the pile of notes on her desk.
“Poppy? Do you have a minute?” Minerva paused in the doorway, giving the Mediwitch the chance to invite her in or send her off.
She sighed, marked her progress on the parchment, and folded the protective cover over her notes. “How can I help, Minerva?” Even her voice was weary.
“I only wished to check how those volunteers are doing.”
"Minerva, I've never seen anything like it. It's like they've been cursed, but none of them were in the battle. It looks like dark magic, but I'm not enough of an expert in the field to know how to cure it. Hogwarts was always protected from the worst of it. Until this past year, that is. During which I was not allowed to do my job!" She emphasized the last three words with staccato precision.
"I know you did your best, given the circumstances. That time is over, thanks to Mr Potter.” She paused. “Have you contacted St Mungo's?"
"Of course. They say it's not a curse known to them. I can't think who else to ask."
“Albus had an extensive library. If you like, you could check in there to see if there is anything.”
* * *
The Suffering of Lucius Malfoy
May 7, 1998
Draco woke to the sound of his father dying.
Lucius’ breathing sounded like death rattling in his lungs, and he coughed so hard, that at the end of each paroxysm, it was as if the last bit of air was expelled, so that Draco strained to hear if he would draw breath again. When he finally gasped his next breath, the air in his lungs wheezed and gurgled.
Draco got up and padded over to his parents’ curtain-enclosed bed. It would be rude just to draw the curtains aside, so he paused as he touched the palm of his hand to the bland fabric. “Mother?” he called softly, so as not to wake her if she were asleep, although he doubted there would be much chance of that.
The curtains shifted to reveal his mother sitting with his father’s head in her lap. His face was red and blotchy, and he convulsed with another bout of coughing. He peered blearily at Draco and sneezed.
Draco was horrified. His father was clearly dying, and he had snot running out of his nose. He looked around – they had not been provided with clothes, so were left with what they were wearing that day. They slept in their underrobes, so as to keep their robes as smart as possible, and Draco could not remember what he had done with his handkerchief. Perhaps it was in his godfather’s rooms.
With a cringe, he went into the water closet and found some toilet paper. Shivering at the thought, he brought it to his mother, who gave it to his father without comment. The loud honking noise was something he never expected to hear from the elegant man. Such symptoms could be alleviated much more discretely – if they only had their wands!
His mother adjusted her husband’s head so she could stand, and went to open the wardrobe. “We need to get him to the Hospital Wing. Would you get the guard’s attention?” Her calm both infuriated him and reassured him. He did not feel calm, but, remembering how the guard had ignored him regarding his messages earlier, decided that could be put to use. It was plebeian, what he planned, but this was an emergency.
“Yes,” he told her. His mother closed the door behind him. He could make a commotion without disturbing his father more than was necessary. He pounded on the hallway door. They’d pay attention to him if he had to annoy them for the rest of the day.
“We need help here!” You contemptible morons, he thought. “My father is ill. He needs to go to the Hospital wing!” He pounded harder. Wait! Hadn’t Potter stolen one of their house elves? Dobbin or something? His father had ranted about the theft. If Potter was here, the elf might be. And Potter was just the type to be hanging around the school, basking in the adulation after the battle. Dobby! “Dobby!” he shouted. No one came. “Stupid house elf.”
He was about to renew his pounding, when the door opened.
“What do you want?” Irritation was clear in the Auror’s voice, but he kept his wand trained on Draco. He looked as if he wanted to use it. “This isn’t a hotel to cater to your whims, Death Eater.”
Draco swallowed his retort. He took a breath. “It’s my father. He’s ill. He could be dying!”
The Auror shrugged. Draco could just see in the Auror’s face what he was thinking. One less for Azkaban.
“He hasn’t been convicted of anything.” Draco said with a quiet intensity, although he feared that the upcoming trial would change the truth of that statement. For now, Draco needed every advantage to get his father what he needed. He feared that they would prefer his father die for lack of medical attention. “He didn’t even have his wand in the battle.” Lucius interrupted Draco with a paroxysm of coughing that could be heard, even through the door. It sounded like he couldn’t breathe at all. “Help him!” As the guard was about to close the door and turn away, Draco changed tactics. “He can’t very well go to his trial like that!”
The guard paused for a moment.
“Don’t you want him to be aware, when he goes to trial?” Draco swallowed. His voice was bitter as he continued, “Don’t you want him to be fully aware of his humiliation? Don’t you want to see it? A Malfoy, to be tried like a common criminal?”
“That’s what he is!” the Auror hissed. “That’s what you all are! Oh, never fear, he’ll get his medical help. We don’t believe in torture, or withholding medical treatment. Not like you people did to my cousin, just because she was shopping in a shop owned by someone you people didn’t approve of. How would she have known? I can’t wait to see every one of you finally get what’s coming to you!”
The guard was shouting by the end, and another Auror ran up to check on the disturbance. At her inquiry, the guard muttered something that sounded insulting, but seemed to have gotten the message across. Either that, or Lucius’ well-timed bout of coughing just as his mother, now fully dressed, opened the bedroom door, made it clear to even the dimmest of Aurors that help was needed. The cough ended in a disturbing sounding gurgling choke. Now that his mother was in the room, Draco could turn his back on the Aurors to go check on his father, whose face was so flushed he looked like an angry Weasley. That alone was clear evidence his father had been cursed, or the world was about to end. Perhaps it was. At his father’s gesture, Draco handed him a cup of water. Hot tea would have been better, Draco thought, but the breakfast tea was all gone.
The new Auror took several moments to cast a battery of detection spells on both rooms, and then followed Draco into the bedroom. No Malfoy should be seen like that, but at least his mother had pulled the blanket over him. The Auror cast a few spells at Lucius. Draco moved protectively toward his father, but his mother gave a miniscule shake of her head. His father merely glared at the Auror, but didn’t say a word. Draco suspected his father’s throat was too sore for him to speak without need. He stepped aside so the Auror could do her scans. Apparently they told the imbecile what ought to be plain at a glance: his father needed help! Lucius was flushed, and his eyes were watering, his hair was tangled and sweaty, and there was mucous dribbling from his nose again. Draco was beginning to think a potion had been slipped in with the food, to humiliate them. Perhaps it was a curse, just now manifesting.
His father opened his eyes and croaked, “Draco. Where’s Narcissa? And what are you doing?” He had to pause for breath every few words. Draco’s eyes flicked up to his mother. Lucius’ eyes followed his glance.
“You need to go to the Hospital wing.” Draco didn’t say anything else. What else was there to say? His father leaned back and reached an arm out toward Narcissa, who took it.
The Auror ignored all this, and reached for something from a pocket in his robes—a thick, heavy bracelet. “He may need medical help, but I don’t trust any of you.” He went to affix it to Lucius’ wrist, but Narcissa held firmly to his father’s hand.
“May I see that?” It wasn’t a question, despite the inflection. She extended her free hand. The Auror held her wand on Draco’s mother, but allowed her to examine the bracelet. Draco thought he recognised it as one of the limiting cuffs used by the Aurors. His father made sure he knew what the ministry could and could not do to him. “You will need a second one. I am going with him.”
“It is not—“
“Necessary? Allowed? I am his wife!” Her cool glare dared the Auror to dispute her right.
“I am required to advise you that this bracelet has a strong stunner, which will be activated should you come into contact with a wand, or the bracelet’s controlling device. It is also set to activate if you range more than thirty feet from the controlling device.” The Auror spoke the words in the monotone of overuse. She looked his mother directly in the eye, her face hard. “I’m required to warn you, but I really wish you would try. I’ve seen them work. Stunners of this strength can damage the heart, is what I’ve heard. You'll really need the medical wing then."
His mother merely slid the bracelet onto her wrist with the same grace and care she would have taken had it been one of the priceless heirlooms in her jewellery coffer at the Malfoy estate. Nothing broke his mother’s composure. She was the epitome of what it meant to be Pureblood.
When she reached for the second bracelet, the Auror pulled it back. “I will put it on him,” the Auror insisted. Lucius glared at the Auror as she reached for his wrist. Draco caught the smirk on his mother’s face. His father might be sick, and he might be diminished by his experiences in the past two years, but he was no one’s doll, to be dressed. With a glance from his mother, his father relented and extended his hand for the Auror to bind with the bracelet. The effect was destroyed when his father broke into a new spasm of coughing. Draco was pleased to see the Auror had been splattered. If a Malfoy must be subject to such humiliation, it was only fitting to share the experience.
* * *
Narcissa was not pleased by the way her husband’s needs were being disregarded.
Not only had the Auror affixed one of the Ministry’s limiting bracelets to her husband’s wrist, but she followed up by casting Incarcerous to bind his hands and ankles together with magically conjured ropes, and then, because he could not move on his own, levitated him off the bed with a Mobilicorpus, and moved him out of the room with a overly energetic swish of her wand, flat on his back in the air, with his beautiful hair hanging down in uncombed tangles. Narcissa quickly pulled the blanket off the bed and draped it over him. She would grant him all the dignity she could, given the circumstances. The Auror gestured another to join them, leaving the guard to ensure that Draco, without his wand, did not escape a warded door. Apparently, two wanded Aurors were necessary to keep two wandless Purebloods, one of whom was incapacitated with illness, under control. If she weren’t so worried about Lucius, she would be smirking at the thought. She moved to guide the floating body of her husband, as she did not trust the Auror to avoid the corners. If Lucius had been well, he would have been livid. Instead, he just looked miserable.
When they arrived in the hospital wing, Madame Pomfrey merely glanced at him briefly, and flicked her wand in a quick diagnostic, then indicated some uncomfortable looking wooden chairs off to the side. “Wait over here. I’ll be with you when I have time.” She had turned to the Auror who had accompanied them. “You will be able to wait?” The Auror nodded, taking an alert stance that took in both the entrance and the two Malfoys, as if Narcissa’s given word, which they had demanded of her, were not assurance enough. They did not seem to consider it relevant that she would not desert her husband when he was debilitated from illness. In fact, they didn’t seem to consider it of moment that he was ill.
“—is neither the most important person here, nor the most grievously ill. He will wait his turn.”
Several other patients came in while they waited. They were scanned, given potions, or directed to beds for further assistance. Mediwizards and mediwitches scurried past several times, but paid them little attention. Narcissa’s anger rose each time, but she held her peace, forcing herself to scan the area. The white on white colour scheme only served to increase Narcissa’s agitation, as the white paint was tinted green, and the paint on the wooden chairs had a brown cast to it, and the bed linen were so white they made the rest drab by comparison. You could always tell the quality of care one would receive by the ambiance. Lucius had always donated generously to St Mungo’s, and the Malfoy family could be assured of a peaceful room, with calming, healing colours, and the best of healers.
Finally, Madame Pomfrey came over with a potion.
“What is it? What is wrong with him?”
“He has a Muggle flu. Perhaps he has been around too many Muggles in his... activities.” Poppy commented, her voice cold. “This draught is primarily non-magical plants, as the Muggle flu does not respond well to the magical variants.”
“My husband is ill with a Muggle disease?”
“He was exposed, and susceptible.”
“He…“ Lucius began, and then coughed hoarsely. “…he is here and can hear you. Do your patient the courtesy of addressing him directly.” Lucius leaned back after the effort of speaking.
Madame Pomfrey turned to address her next comment to both of them. “Typically, wizards don’t get Muggle illnesses, as our magic makes us resistant. I’m surprised to see you with it. Have you been cursed or otherwise severely weakened?” Lucius gave her an impatient look. “I would not expect a wizard to catch this unless you had been without your wand for an extended period, and were then exposed, but as you were at your own manor, that seems unlikely.” At Narcissa’s hand gesture, Madame Pomfrey paused. “Unless…?” The Mediwitch’s voice inflected upward in a question.
“Neither of us have wands at the moment. My son had to borrow mine when he returned to Hogwarts after the Spring Holiday. Lucius’ was likewise unavailable.”
“That would account for it. In the meantime, it is not life-threatening. He will need to stay here long enough to determine his reaction to the potion, but then you may return to your rooms. Drink.” She addressed the last command directly to Lucius.
Lucius glared at the concoction in her hand, but after a moment reached out his hand to grasp it. She let him take the flask, and he examined it a bit more. “What’s in it?” He croaked.
“Echinacea, hyssop, liquorice, several other non-magical herbs.”
Lucius drank it warily.
“Nothing’s happening.” Narcissa protested.
“It is a Muggle illness. It takes time to heal. As it doesn’t have magical components, it does not react well to a magical cure. You will have to wait it out like a Muggle would.”
“How long?” Narcissa pressed.
“Muggles do not heal as fast as we do. They, however, have developed resistances to the illnesses they can contract. We have never needed to develop Muggle forms of resistance.”
Lucius giggled. “Muggle resistance!” he croaked, his laugh turning into a cough.
Madame Pomfrey turned to Narcissa. “As I was saying, because it is doubtful that your husband has any non-magical resistance to this flu, it may well take longer or be more severe.”
“Severe! Severe Severus could, would…“ Lucius wheezed through a giggle.
Narcissa stared at her husband in concern. “What did you give to him?”
“It appears that your husband is one of those wizards who has an allergy. I will have to test—“
“Madame Pomfrey! We have another one!”
“Excuse me. I will have to get back to you in a moment, Mrs Malfoy. Keep an eye out for any further strange behaviours.”
“He is already behaving oddly. Fix this!”
“I’m sorry, but this is an emergency.” Poppy ran a scan over the new patient, who made a peculiar sound, then vomited at their feet. The patient’s face and hands had broken out in lesions. Lucius giggled again.
“Andre! Take this gentleman to the quarantine ward. I’ll be right there, just get him settled.”
“My husband –“
“Your husband and his cronies did this!” Suddenly, Madame Pomfrey turned on Lucius. “All the death wasn’t enough? You had to cause more misery? What did you do? What is causing this?” The Mediwitch’s voice came out desperate and angry.
Narcissa was about to protest that they had done nothing in the battle but look for their son, when Lucius giggled and sing-songed, “Dark Magic, Dark Magic leaves a mark.” He broke into a fit of coughing at the end.
“I can tell it’s dark magic, you buffoon! No one has identified the curse. If you know—” she turned to Narcissa— “if either of you know what was done to cause this, you need to tell me! I have fifteen cases already... that is the sixteenth!”
“What are the symptoms?” Narcissa asked.
“Vomiting. Lesions – over the whole body. Stasis only slows the spread of lesions, it does not halt them. Fever. There is a taint of dark magic in their magical field, but I don’t recognize the curse! Everything I do only seems to accelerate the symptoms!”
Narcissa restrained her shock. Lucius had no such compunction. “Your own choices,” he chortled. “Hit by your own curse! Albus Dumbledore’s folly, striking from beyond the grave...”
“Albus would do no such thing!” Madame Pomfrey declared.
“You all have!” Lucius’ hoarse voice nevertheless sounded like a three year old with a secret. “Every choice for the past two hundred years—” He broke into a fit of coughing again, trying to speak past the coughs. “Every choice! Now you see. We were right. We were right.” He sing-songed the words.
“I don’t have time for this.” Madame Pomfrey turned away to follow her new patient.
“I will tell you what my husband means. But first you must see him into a bed, and make him comfortable. And I will sit by him and tell you exactly what he means.”
“I must—” Madame Pomfrey gestured in the direction they had taken the man with lesions.
“Yes, yes, see to him. But if you want my help, you will come back to assist my husband immediately afterward. And you need my help if you want that man to live.”
Madame Pomfrey nodded and left without a further word.
Narcissa glanced at Lucius’ face. Mucous dribbled down under his nose, and his eyes were wet from the coughing. His face was blotchy. She wished, for the twentieth time this morning, that she had her wand. She turned to the Auror. “He needs a handkerchief.”
The Auror gazed at her impassively. She turned to scan the room. There was a table in the corner with various supplies. “Over there. There is a pile of cloth on that table. I need one.”
“I’m must stand here and guard Mr Malfoy. He won’t expire in the time it takes for the Mediwitch to return.”
She knew at least six different spells that would ease his suffering, and make his face presentable, but without her wand, could do none of them. She turned to the Auror, repressing her dismay at their vulnerability to their enemies. She was Slytherin. She would do what was necessary. Rule 2. “Could you at least do him the service of cleaning his face for him?”
The Auror smirked, but turned to cast Scourgify. Narcissa shuddered. It was much too vigorous a spell to use on the face. She could already see his face reddening further in response. She stroked a hand down her husband’s hair.
Finally Madame Pomfrey returned and took them to a bed in a room with several others. Some of them were occupied. This was not St Mungo’s, she reminded herself, where their past donations secured them private rooms. This was a school. As much as she would have liked Draco to have private rooms were he to need care, there had been more important things to focus on: curriculum for example, and quality of teaching. Lucius had insisted that the Hogwarts curriculum had significant flaws. And now, she had proof.
As soon as Lucius was situated, with a dose of something to alleviate his congestion (but not his fever, which apparently was necessary for the Muggle healing process), and a sleeping draught to ease his suffering, Madame Pomfrey turned to her. “That’s all I dare do, or it will interfere with the healing. Now what do you know?”
Narcissa did not prevaricate, despite the opening left for her. “When was the last time Hogwarts was cleansed?” She decided to start with the easy question.
“The house elves clean it every day, of course. Hogwarts is not unsanitary!”
“Not cleaned. When was it last cleansed? When did you last clear out the magic left behind?”
“What are you talking about?” Madame Pomfrey sounded exasperated.
“Every spell we cast leaves a mark. A bit of it is left behind.”
“It dissipates over time. It doesn’t harm anything.” Madame Pomfrey objected.
“How many spells are cast each day at Hogwarts? There are what, three hundred students, in addition to the teaching staff? The students practice magic daily. How would it have time to dissipate?”
“What does this have to do with—“
“You really don’t know?” Narcissa was beginning to get a feeling of foreboding. No, it went beyond foreboding. She had seen the lesions on that patient.
“If we knew—”
“So, students have been casting magic here, every year, every day. And it has never been cleansed while you’ve worked here. Hogwarts is so full of magic it may well have become sentient!” Narcissa closed her eyes to compose herself. “It is certainly animate. I doubt the original builders intended the stairs to move, or the suits of armour to wander. The population of ghosts at Hogwarts is appalling! Do you suppose all of them died at Hogwarts? They were attracted by the sheer intensity of the magic at Hogwarts, free for use, to ground them more into this world. No wonder Hogwarts students are getting weaker.”
Madame Pomfrey bridled at that. “They are not—“
“They are. But that is not the point, at the moment. Last year, Draco wrote home about what was being taught. The Carrows brought dark magic back to the Hogwarts curriculum for the first time in over two hundred years. Did Amycus Carrow ever teach the students how to clean up after themselves?”
“I do not follow the specific lesson plans of each instructor, except insofar as it may cause students to need my service. The Professors usually alert me in advance so that I would have the supplies ready. And, to be frank, I had enough to do, what with the Carrows and Snape cursing students left and right. I have never seen teachers with such disregard for student welfare.”
“So, last year, dark magic was cast in a magically saturated environment.”
“Against the will of the responsible members of the faculty and staff.” Poppy bit the words out.
“And then, a few days ago, there was a major battle. In which many wizards and witches were killed, including one who had used magic stronger and darker than most of us can even attempt! And, to your knowledge, you still haven’t cleansed the castle?”
“What do you think the volunteers are doing?” Madame Pomfrey asked. Repairing the damage your lot caused.”
“Certainly not cleansing the castle, or you would not have sixteen patients at risk of losing their magic, if not their lives.” Narcissa’s voice was acerbic. She took a breath. The Auror at the door had his wand in hand, but was still pointing it downward. This was not the time to antagonize them.
She began again, speaking as if to a very slow first year. “All magic leaves its mark. Most spells, when cast, merely increase the level of magic in the ambience; what they leave behind is neutral. Some magic leaves a … residue that can be beneficial. It can be healing, or calm the emotions. One of the indicators of Dark Magic is that the magical remains that it leaves behind are…dangerous. It can be damaging to living creatures, and can warp the purpose of charmed items. So it is necessary to cleanse the magic left behind. Those of us who have not forgotten proper wizarding traditions cleanse our homes several times a year. Our children can do it!”
“So it doesn’t need a wand?”
“How would it help to add magic? The purpose is to release the magic, to return the place to its natural state. Draco knows how. Frankly, any Slytherin except perhaps a few would know this, and would have done it all his life. Any Pureblood who has not betrayed our traditions knows how to protect those of magical blood.”
“Just a moment. I will be right back.” Poppy excused herself, and a few moments later returned. “The Headmistress will be joining us. I believe she should hear this. In the meantime, what do I do for the patients I already have?”
“If they have not shown lesions yet, it is simple. A simple salt bath, with certain herbs added. Then a cleansing potion.”
“All of them have lesions. I have them under stasis.”
“That will only slow it down, and will accelerate their decay once stasis is removed. You need to remove them from Hogwarts and then drain their magic.”
“Magic speeds up the infection. They need to be in an environment with no magic. Not Hogwarts, not Diagon Alley, not the Ministry, certainly not St Mungo’s. No magical home. They will need to be quarantined in a Muggle neighbourhood and left alone. They will need to take a specific tincture that will drain their magic, and they will need to take this until their magic has completely left them.
“No! I cannot believe that!”
“Once their magic is completely gone, they can stop taking the tincture and return to Hogwarts, or St Mungo’s, and there is a chance their magic will return,” Narcissa continued relentlessly. She repressed the shudder at the thought. Such carelessness. Such idiocy to ignore simple precautions, when the risk was so great. And what was worse, she and her family were imprisoned here, where the residue from dark magic had never been cleansed.
The Headmistress walked in. “What do you need, Poppy?”
“You need to hear this.”
“It may take a while to explain fully.” Narcissa began.
The Headmistress sat in a nearby chair, and folded her hands in her lap. “What do I need to hear?”
Narcissa repeated what she had told the mediwitch.
“So this cleansing will prevent further cases?”
“You say your son knows how to do this. He has volunteered to help with the repair effort. Do you believe he would be willing to be on a volunteer team to perform this cleansing?” the Headmistress asked.
Narcissa quailed inside at the thought of Draco exposed to such advanced taint, but reminded herself of his goals. “I trust my son. You will have to ask him if he is willing to accept the risk. But if he is, I can tell you he is more than capable of cleansing Hogwarts. With assistance. It is best done in groups.” She didn’t want to expose him to this. The taint here had apparently already progressed much further than she would ever let it develop at home. Although, considering the events of the last few months, her home was probably overdue for a cleansing as well. It did not have the sheer levels of magic in the ambiance that Hogwarts did. Malfoy Manor had no walking suits of armour, no moving staircases, and very few ghosts. Still the effluence from the fight that happened a few months ago when they had prisoners escaping, and the wrath inflicted by the Dark Lord onto his own would certainly need to be cleansed, now that the Malfoy family would no longer need to play host to whichever Death Eaters the Dark Lord saw fit to impose upon them.
Fortunately, a Dark Lord had not been vanquished on the premises. So, Malfoy Manor and the surrounding grounds would need to be cleansed, if they were able to return home, but it would not be so badly tainted as would cause what she saw in that patient. Narcissa both longed for the day they returned, and mourned, for it was doubtful that Lucius would return with them.
“What of those who have already been infected?” McGonagall broke into her train of thought.
“I have already explained to Madame Pomfrey what is necessary—“
“And I will not believe that is the only way to help them! To drain them of their magic!”
“What?” McGonagall turned sharply to look at her.
“It is their magic that is infected. The infection feeds on their magic. You can do nothing with magic that will not make it worse.”
“The stasis—“ Madame Pomfrey began.
“—only slows the progression of the illness, but will not stop it. When the stasis is removed, the magic used to hold the stasis will only feed the infection.”
“What is this tincture you propose?”
Narcissa told her.
“But that is a poison!”
“Indeed. Muggles discovered this poison, and used it to drain witches and wizards of their magic in the middle ages. Some survived. This is nothing to take lightly. But it is the only cure.”
“Do you have any proof of what you say?”
Narcissa repressed a sneer. She had expected this. “At the Manor. There is a book.”
“I will send someone to fetch it. Where—“
“They would not get past the gate. Malfoy wards do not treat intruders kindly. I will need to go.”
“And you will disappear. No.”
“I would not leave my son and my husband to your care. I doubt they would survive it.” She didn’t want to leave Lucius just now, but... She considered, and could not believe what she was about to offer. “You may send what Aurors you need to accompany me.” She knew the risk. They would have full access to the Manor once she let them in. She knew they would use whatever they saw against her family. But this was more than that. This was a chance, possibly, to return Hogwarts to the old ways. She had something they needed, and their need would open them to convincing. She had the key to Draco’s future.
After a pause, McGonagall nodded.
* * *
Chapter 1 (If you've not read the story yet, start Here...)
Chapter 12 (if you missed the previous chapter, click here)
Chapter 13B (For the rest of the chapter, click here)