Disclaimers:  I do not own Harry Potter or any of its characters.

Notes: Harry returns to the Common Room.  Draco wakes up to find himself alone.



Shadows of Truth



Part Seventeen


Harry ran into the Common Room and collapsed onto the sofa.  He was breathing heavily, sweat dripping along the side of his
face.  He had run all the way from Professor Snape’s quarters, knowing he had to get Hermione and Ron’s help in solving this
puzzle.

Ron and Hermione had been talking when he had burst in so suddenly.  But once they saw him, they ran over to him, their
faces full of concern.  “Harry, what’s happened?”  Hermione knelt on the floor as Ron sat next to him.  “Is there something
wrong with Draco?  Oh, not the baby, Harry!”

Harry shook his head.  “No, the baby and Draco are both fine.”  He said, panting as he spoke.  “But I’ve done something.  I
don’t even know what I’ve done to offend Snape.  I was just curious, I swear.”

Ron rolled his eyes, slumping on the cushion beside Harry.  “What’d you do now, mate?”

Harry couldn’t say he liked the way Ron had reacted.  Still, he pressed on, needing to tell them, to get their help.  “There was a
portrait in Snape’s rooms that he keeps covered.  I wanted to see it.  I didn’t see the harm.”

“Harry, if someone has something covered, it’s usually for a reason,” Hermione frowned, patting Harry’s knee as if he were a
child.

Harry hung his head, feeling like a fool for betraying Snape’s privacy.  “I didn’t mean any harm.  I just wanted to see what he
thought was so deserving of secrecy.  I pulled back the cloth and . . . and I swear my breath was taken away.”

“What was it?”  Ron questioned, leaning forward slightly.

“A woman and a child.  It was a portrait of a woman and her daughter.  At least, I think it was her daughter.  They looked so
alike.  But that woman was beautiful.  I don’t know how to describe her.”  Harry had never been good with expressing his
thoughts with words.  He felt so awkward saying these things.  “There was a nameplate underneath it.  Odette and Leila.  I
need to know who they are, why they’re so important to Professor Snape.  He’s thrown me out of his rooms!”  Harry could
feel the beginnings of panic welling up inside of him.  Oh, how he had screwed things up this time.  “I have to get back in
there!  Draco needs me.  He must be terrified!”

Hermione put her hand on Harry’s, squeezing gently.  “Harry, calm down.  I’ll go speak with Professor Snape.  Maybe he’ll let
you back in for Draco’s sake.”

Harry gave Hermione a sickly smile.  “I don’t think that’ll work, Hermione.  He was really angry.  He wasn’t even yelling.  But
his eyes . . . they were full rage.”

Hermione sighed and wrapped her arm around Harry’s shoulders.  “Well, we’ll just have to try and talk to him.  There’s
nothing else we can do.  Draco needs you.  I’m sure Snape will see that.”


*****


Draco opened his eyes to the darkness.  It was the same thing as the day before and the day before that.  He hoped that Snape
would be done with that potion soon.  He was well past feeling tired of seeing nothing but an empty black void.

“Harry?” he called out, wanting to apologize to his lover for his earlier attitude.  He had been curt, rude when Harry had only
been trying to help him.  He knew Harry didn’t mean anything by his actions, that he only wanted to make Draco feel better.  
But living with this, seeing nothing, it was grating on Draco’s last nerve, eating away at his resolve piece by piece.

He frowned when he received no reply.  Harry always stayed until he woke up.  It was commonplace that Draco sleep after
eating.  He found himself weary more often than not.  But Harry had never left without waiting for Draco to awaken, or
awakening him himself so that he could say goodbye, to tell him when he’d come back to see him again.

He grit his teeth and pushed himself to a sitting position, taking a number of deep breaths once he had righted himself.  “Harry?  
Are you there?” he called again, shoving his blankets away and swinging his legs over the edge.

He felt confused.  He didn’t understand why Harry wasn’t here.  Harry was always here.  Maybe, maybe Draco had been too
rude earlier.  Perhaps he had offended Harry, had made him leave.  The thought of that struck a pang in Draco's chest.  He
hadn’t meant to hurt Harry’s feelings and now he felt that he had to apologize.

Carefully, he slid out of bed, his feet landing on soft, cushy ground.  It barely took him a moment to realize his feet had fallen
right on a pair of slippers that had been lying beside the bed and he slipped his feet into them, hoping that they matched.  He slid
his hand along the bed, moving slowly as he walked.  When he reached the end of the bed, he bent slightly and brushed his
hand along the trunk resting there, finding an expanse of cloth that felt familiar.  He picked it up and let his hands wander over
it, almost letting out a sigh as his fingers found a patch of embroidery.  It was a House Crest, that much Draco was certain.  
Which meant that this was a school robe.  Draco uneasily put the garment on, making sure he had it on the right way by
checking that the crest was on the correct side.  He didn’t know whose robe it was, or what House it belonged to, but it didn’t
fit him, so he knew it wasn’t his.

Taking a breath, he stepped away from the bed in search of the way out of these rooms.  After several long minutes, one
locked door and two closets, Draco found what he hoped was the door to the hall outside.  Shakily, certain that this was
probably the stupidest idea he had ever come up with, he pulled the hood up over his head and opened the door.  He took
cautious steps out, his one hand always against the wall.  He was grateful to find that it wasn’t another closet and that he had
indeed found a long hall.

Draco started walking then, running his hand along the stone wall as he went.  When his hand collided with something wooden,
he paused, furrowing his brow as he felt along the surface.  A portrait, he decided, feeling the canvas, the textures of the
paint.  “Excuse me, does someone inhabit this painting?” he asked, hopeful that it was one that contained a wizard, or someone
capable of speech.

“Yes, dear.  Are you lost?” a feminine voice inquired.

“Am I going in the right direction to get to the Gryffindor Tower?”

“Why yes, you are,”  the voice stated.  “I don’t think Professor Snape would approve if he knew you were out of bed.  I saw
you when you went into his room, you didn’t look all that well . . . and blind to boot, such a pity.”

Draco bowed his head.  Great, even the portraits knew of his impairment.  “As much as I’d rather stay in bed, I have to find
Harry.”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to pester.  If you’d like my help, I’d be glad to follow along in the paintings to help guide you.”

Draco felt a faint smile curl his lips.  “I would be thankful for the assistance, Miss . . .”

“You can call me Amelia.”

Draco nodded shakily.  “So, which way do I go to get to Gryffindor Tower?”

The woman clucked her tongue softly, but responded.  “Best to keep your hand on the wall and follow my voice, dear.  I’ll go
on ahead and direct you.”  She was quiet a moment, but then spoke from a distance.  “This way, dear boy.”

Draco sighed in relief and followed the painting’s voice.  He had no real proof that she was leading him to Gryffindor Tower.  
For all he knew, she could be leading him to a dead end, but he really didn’t have any other alternatives.  It wasn’t as if he
could find his own way after all.

There were a few times when Amelia had brief arguments with the current occupants of other paintings, but she was always a
gentle voice guiding him.  Suddenly, she said something that wasn’t a direction.  “Oh, dear . . .”

Another familiar voice spoke up.  “Malfoy?  What are you doing here?  You should be in bed!”

Amelia cleared her throat.  “Umm, well I’ll just go back to my painting now.  This young fellow will see you the rest of the
way.  I do hope you’ll come and visit me when you’re feeling better.”  Then she was gone.

Draco swallowed nervously, taking a couple steps backward.  He hoped Amelia hadn’t just led him into danger.  “Who's there?”

There was a tense silence before the other person let out a breath.  “Neville Longbottom.  You know, the person you tormented
our first five years, remember?”

Draco swallowed again.  He winced and flinched away as a hand grasped his arm, fearing retribution for all the horrible things
he had done over the years.  Surely, Longbottom would take the opportunity presented to him to get his revenge.

“Relax, Malfoy,” Longbottom’s voice was light as if he were amused by Draco’s reaction.  “It wouldn’t be very Gryffindor-
like if I were to attack you when you’re obviously at a disadvantage.  That’s more a Slytherin thing to do.”  A hand landed on
Draco’s shoulder, holding him firmly.  “Besides, hurting you would only hurt Harry.  And I wouldn’t hurt one of my friends
like that.”

Draco would have felt relieved, but the Slytherin side of him reminded him that this could easily be a trick to lure him into a
false sense of security.  “How did you know it was me?”

“You didn’t exactly do a great job of hiding,” Neville pointed out, and Draco felt a tug to the cloth at the side of his head.  
“Some of your hair was showing.  I don’t know many people in this school with such light skin and hair who have a need to
hide themselves in their robes.”

Draco ducked his head, feeling foolish.  He should have made sure he was covered before he had left Snape’s rooms.  “Is, is
Harry in the Tower?”

“He was, when I left,” Neville replied.  “He was talking with Ron and Hermione about you and Snape.  I don’t think they even
noticed me when I walked past them.”

Draco swallowed, feeling worried.  “Was Harry upset?”

“Well, he sounded distressed.”  Neville gently took hold of his arm and began leading Draco away.  “We’ll have to pass him if
he leaves the tower.  We’re not too far away.  I don’t think Harry will be thrilled with you being out of bed.  He worries about
you a great deal.”

Draco smiled a little.  “Yes, he does.  So much so that it upsets me when he goes overboard.  I don’t like being helpless.”

Neville chuckled, and it was a sound full of understanding rather than amusement.  “Oh, I know how that is.  Here we are.”  
Neville said something that Draco couldn’t quite catch, most likely the password.  It sounded vaguely like the password, but
the blood was pounding through Draco’s veins so hard that it made it difficult to hear.  Draco was afraid that Harry would be
angry with him.  He didn’t want Harry getting upset.

A moment later, Draco was stepping through the entrance with Neville’s guidance.  Neville called out once they were inside.  
“Hey, Harry?  You have a visitor!”

Not ten seconds later, Draco could hear the sound of feet running toward him.  Someone pulled him into a hug and he allowed
himself to relax.  “Harry,” he sighed, knowing the feel of those strong arms anywhere.

Harry pulled away slightly and then his hands were running all over Draco’s body, as if to check him for injuries.  “What in the
world are you doing out of bed?  You shouldn’t be up!  The stress isn’t good for the baby.”  He wrapped an arm around Draco’
s waist.  “Come on, let’s get you settled in.  Hermione, will you go to Professor Snape and let him know where Draco is?”

Granger’s voice was warm when she spoke.  “Of course, Harry.”

“Do you want to go upstairs, or stay down here in the common Room?”  Harry asked, the familiar heat of Harry’s fingers
resting against his cheek.

Draco raised his hand and settled it over those comforting fingers.  “I don’t know,” he sighed, shaking his head slightly.  “I’m
tired, but I don’t think I can manage the stairs.”

“That’s easily solved,” Ron piped up, barely a moment before a set of arms circled Draco’s body and swept him from the
ground.

“Ron!”  Harry cried out.  “Be careful!”

Draco blindly scrabbled for something to hold onto, his hands eventually finding Ron’s broad shoulders.  He clung close to the
redhead, fearing that he might be dropped.

“Take it easy, Harry.  I’ve got him,” Ron spoke calmly.

Draco had to admit, he felt somewhat reassured now.  He could feel the strength in Ron’s arms.  Now that he had taken a few
calming breaths, he felt comfortable in the cradle of the redhead’s arms.

A hand caressed his shoulder and Draco recognized it at once as Harry’s.  “You okay, Draco?”  Harry asked.

Draco nodded his head slightly.  “I’m okay.  He just startled me.  I wasn’t expecting it.”

“Sorry,” Ron said with a soft tone.  “I just thought you could use the help.  You looked beat.”

Draco closed his eyes, pressing his forehead to Ron’s chest.  “Your kindness is appreciated.”  He yawned widely, his earlier
weariness catching up with him.  Things started drifting away then.  Vaguely, he heard Ron and Harry talking, but couldn’t
grasp more than a handful of words.  He didn’t put up a fight as he fell into a doze, giving in to the sweet call of slumber.


*****


Harry stood back as Ron gently lowered the pale blonde to the bed.  The moment Ron stepped aside, Harry rushed forward.  
He brushed the back of his hand across Draco’s cheek, grasping the former Slytherin’s hand.

“Is he okay?”  Ron asked.

Harry smiled, nodding.  “He’s just fallen asleep,” he said, a relieved sigh escaping him.

“I’m not surprised.  He did walk all the way here from Snape’s.”

“Yeah,” Harry whispered, taking a seat on the edge of the bed.  He brushed his hand through Draco’s hair, still concerned
about the foolish prat.  “He tires easily.  He really shouldn’t have done this.”

“Don’t be mad at him, Harry.  He just wanted to be with you,” Ron stated, his hand firmly set on Harry’s shoulder.

A faint smile curled the corners of Harry’s mouth.  “I’m not mad at him.  Not really.  But this really was a stupid idea.”

Ron chuckled, his hand falling away from Harry’s shoulder.  He walked to the door, stopping there briefly before he left the
dorm.  “We all do stupid things when we’re in love,” he said.  Then he was gone.

Harry felt a blush on his cheeks.  Ron was right though.  With a smile, Harry stroked his fingers along Draco’s pale and
bruised cheek.  He was content to stay just where he was.



To Be Continued . . .