Author's Notes: (NOT A SONGFIC!) Not everything in the warning is in the first chapter, which is short... you'll have to wait.
Faint of Hearts
Recognizing the voice, he froze.
The feeling was gone just as quickly as it had come, but the tears still rested on his cheeks, one of them dangling and dripping from his chin, landing softly on the stone floor. He felt a rush of blood to his face.
"What do you want, Potter?"
He was silent, perhaps stunned. Draco nonchalantly wiped his face and brought himself to his feet, unable to look him in the eyes.
"What- is something- er... wrong?"
"No." he said coldly.
"Oh... I was just wondering, because-"
"Because what?" Draco snapped. "Because what, Potter?"
He didn't say anything, but shuffled his feet somewhat awkwardly. Draco still couldn't meet his eyes. He heard Potter take a nervous breath.
They were both at a strange loss for words. The silence was stifling; Draco felt he had to say something. "What..." he finally looked up at him. "What were you going to tell me earlier? In the Great Hall?"
He frowned, looking clueless for a moment before the memory must've surfaced. "Oh." he finally offered. "Oh, that. I was just..."
"Just what?" Draco watched as Potter's eyes fell to the floor. "Well, what, Potter, I haven't got all night. What were you going to say to me?"
Even though Draco already knew, something in him needed to hear it said aloud, to confirm he hadn't imagined it. He waited patiently, ignoring Potter's constant fidgeting and nervous glances. Something in his gut began to twist. He needed to hear it.
"I... I don't know. I don't remember. It wasn't that important, I guess." He turned to leave.
A feeling of extreme humiliation came over Draco, and he flushed. "Wait!" he called, his voice somewhat strangled. Potter stopped, but didn't turn.
"Don't..." he felt ill. "Don't tell anyone... what you saw, okay?"
There was a moment of silence, and Draco began to fear he was going to ignore this request and tell all of Gryffindor Tower before breakfast. But he didn't.
"I won't." he said quietly. "I promise." He continued down the hall.
"Wait!" Draco called again. Potter stopped, this time turning and giving Draco a somewhat irritated look.
"I said I promised, Malfoy, I'm not-"
"I know." he said, unconsciously fixing his collar. "I just... I just wanted to say..." he bit his tongue. Potter raised an eyebrow.
"Your welcome." he finally managed. He turned, ignoring the gasp from the obviously stunned Gryffindor, and reentered his common room.
"...and of course, you must remember to focus your mind at all times, otherwise the chant will be completely useless and the potion will remain incomplete. Now, does anyone know of any of the more common techniques used to calm the mind enough to achieve full calm and concentration...?"
Except for the sound of Hermione's quill against her parchment, all was silent on the dull September-the-Second-review-all-the-past-years-basic-concepts morning. Harry could faintly hear the sound of Snape's shoes echoing against the floor. He found himself dozing, at least until-
He jumped; there was really no other word for it. He was completely disconnected from his chair for at least a full second; his ink bottle fell to the floor and shattered; the impact of his landing back onto the chair tipped it back and, to his horror, tilted his weight all the way back, which, of course, resulted in his head connecting with Dean Thomas' desk before he landed, flat on his back, at Snape's feet.
He ignored the breathless snickering that erupted from both sides of the aisle, instead focusing on the ache at the base of his neck, and the surprised look Professor Snape was giving him. He was, surprisingly, not smirking at him.
"Mister Potter." he sighed, crossing his arms. "I would ask you to answer the question, but I don't suppose you'd know much about focus, now would you?"
He felt himself blushing. "I'm sorry, professor." he whispered breathlessly. His lungs seemed to be flat. The snickering increased.
"Well, don't lie there and fall asleep, Potter, get up and write down your assignment." He watched him turn and push himself off the floor. "You'll do twelve inches on the ancient technique first devised by Marcus Webb on easing the body and clearing the mind and- Potter?"
The snickering stopped as Harry let go of the desk, only to sway dangerously on the spot and collapse once again at Snape's feet, this time unconscious. Snape gave a small gasp as blood began to drip down his neck. He heard Parvarti's horrified shriek. "He's busted his head open!"
"Calm yourselves down!" Snape yelled as the class began to talk as one. "Weasley, Malfoy, help me carry him to the hospital wing!"
"Weasley isn't here, Professor." Draco said, glancing at the Gryffindor desks before kneeling down and helping lift Harry gently off the ground.
Snape snapped his head around, noticing this for the first time. His eyes fell on Hermione. "Where is he?"
"I don't know, Professor."
"Didn't you two have your last class together?"
"Didn't you walk to class with him and Potter?" His voice was increasingly impatient.
"No. I didn't want to be late, and they were talking with Professor McGonagall because they hadn't been paying attention-"
"Enough." he interrupted, helping lean Harry against Draco in his semi-conscience state. Hermione's voice had been getting higher and more desperate throughout her little explanation. She hadn't looked that well to begin with; you didn't have to know her to see that her hair was frazzled and longer than it should be; that the dark circles under her eyes were definitely a bad sign; that patches of acne had begun to spring up across her forehead and nose, most likely from stress. Most had avoided talking with her, the few that had tried remembering her snappish tone and the way she took quickly to the offense.
"I can take Potter sir, and if I see Weasley on the way I'll report to a teacher." Snape nodded grimly as Draco carefully leaned the dazed boy's weight on his shoulder and aided him out of the classroom. He could hear Patil's worried chattering, but the only sound coming from Hermione Granger was the insistent scratching of her quill as Snape resumed his lesson.
"What are you doing out here, Weasley?"
He jumped. He turned, meeting Professor McGonagall's glare. "Using the bathroom." he said simply.
"Professor Snape allowed you to leave his classroom to use the lavatories?"
She pressed her lips together- anxiously, though, instead of strictly. "Well, hurry along, Weasley."
He frowned at her retreating back. He was sick of the sorry looks they were giving him. Did they think he was fragile? God damn. He wasn't a crying little first year. They could lighten the fuck up.
He waited until she had turned the corner and been out of his sight for several minutes before stepping into an empty classroom, shutting the door behind him. He slid down the door, pulling the small, crumpled box of cigarettes out of his pocket as he did so. One of Bill's leftovers that he had found during the summer. He had smoked his first only a week earlier, and even though the experience wasn't at all pleasant, he wanted to see what would happen if he tried again.
It didn't matter if the nausea came; after all, he'd grown used to that. He lit the cigarette with the end of his wand.
The Hospital Wing was calm and settled; Draco could hear Madam Pomfrey in her office, sorting through shelves or papers. He carefully laid Potter on the closest mattress and knocked forcefully on the door. He waited.
There was no answer. He heard a distant sound- almost like the sound of someone Apparating, but not as sharp. He frowned and knocked again. After a moment, he pushed the door open, glancing around for an sign at all of Madam Pomfrey.
Papers were scattered atop her desk- very uncharacteristic of her- and there was no one present. He glanced behind him, wincing at Potter's unconscious state, before stepping carefully into the room, sorting slowly through the papers. The were records; teacher's records... McGonagall... brought in her Hogwarts days for pneumonia, appendicitis, several cases of the flu... Flitwick... for being stepped on or kicked... Snape...
He jumped, crying out and turning to Madam Pomfrey, who grabbed him forcefully by the wrist. Her eyes were blazing. "What do you think you are doing?" she demanded.
"I- I was just bringing Potter-" her vicious stare unnerved him. "he's hurt-"
"I checked him out; a simple gash to the back of the head and knocked silly." she missed the look of relief, then annoyance, that flashed across his expression. "Probably cut with the corner of a desk, or a knife." she added.
"He fell." Draco said lamely. She narrowed her eyes.
( Fell I bet he fell fell right into your clutches )
She thought he was responsible. She thought he just walked up a dug a cutting knife into the back of Potter's head...
"That still doesn't explain why you were breaking into the personal medical files of the staff."
"I wasn't!" he cried immediately. "It was someone else! I heard them- they were in here, but when I knocked they ran-"
"Ran where, Mister Malfoy?" She pursed her lips. "I have no windows or back doors. You can't Apparate, either."
( Honestly he could've come up with something better than that )
He frowned. "I don't know." he said finally. He had no choice but to follow as she led him out of her office.
"Wait until I finish with Mister Potter," she told him. "and I'll deal with you."
He scowled at her back as she turned. "Bitch." he hissed vehemently, under his breath.
( I heard that little bastard we'll see who's a bitch when your speaking with Dumbledore )
He looked at his feet, clenching his jaw. He wanted so badly to reach out and sling his fist into something, or perhaps throw something across the room. He chewed on the inside lining of his cheek, scenarios coming to mind. Throwing Pomfrey through the air, sending a bed through the window, tossing Potter across the room...
Cheers rang, banners cracked sharply in the wind, and Roy Burleson's voice rang throughout it all, addressing both the actions and appearance of the Quidditch players (particularly the females, much to Professor McGonagall's annoyance.) Most of this was only partially noticed by the players themselves, who were focused intently on what they were doing.
Slytherin, with two-hundred-twenty, was one-hundred-twenty points ahead of Gryffindor. The three third year Chasers they had to replace Johnson, Spinnet, and Bell were- to be blunt- terrible. In Draco's opinion, Longbottom could've done better. Their Beaters were even worse; one of them, panicked and eager not to fail, had kept a Bludger away from Draco before he realized what he was doing. Boyer, Flint's replacement, had laughed until he was nearly sick. Draco had chuckled at the obscenities their Keeper threw his way when the Gryffindors slipped past him and scored a goal; Harry, catching his amused distraction, had fumed with anger, obviously thinking he was mocking their team.
Draco had carefully avoided the Gryffindor ever since the incident in the Hospital Wing- he had almost been expelled, until Potter had awoken and told them, quite clearly, that Malfoy hadn't attacked him. It had been humiliating, to say the least.
Potter had saved him; and everyone in the school knew. They talked about it, all the time. It drove Draco insane. Potter knew that would happen. The smarmy bastard had defended him only out of spite. After all, he still hated him, and had probably been a little freaked out by the crying incident- something Draco still hadn't been able to figure out.
His thoughts stopped as a wave of screaming erupted from the stands. Startled, he turned to see what was the matter. What he saw scared the hell out of him.
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