Chapter 28 Breathe
Draco knew that there was something wrong with Fred as soon as they landed. He'd apparated with him before, and Fred was exceptional when it came to smooth landings-even if there was a ton of chaos in the previous location. (He knew this after a failed experiment that took place in Molly Weasley's kitchen that resulted in half the room blown up. They'd gotten out of there in a hurry.)
When they landed in the twins darkened apartment, it was rough, and all involved went stumbling backwards and into various objects. Blinking his eyes to adjust to the dim light coming from the street light outside, Draco was able to make out Fred's hunched form a few feet in front of him.
"Fred?" he asked. When he didn't get a response, he pulled up his wand and lit it with a soft "Lumos."
By now, Ginny had lit her own wand, and George was pulling his up, as well as Melody. All eyes were on Fred, who was kneeling on the floor, a confused expression on his face.
"Freddie?" This time it was George.
Fred looked up at his twin, and his face suddenly contorted as he gasped.
"Fred!" Ginny cried, as he reached up and grabbed at his chest. Fearing some sort of wound, Draco and George quickly reached up and pulled open Fred's suit, feeling around to see if there was any blood that would indicate an injury. Ginny shone her light at him, as Fred gasped again, and Draco thought it sounded almost like-
"Fred, can you breath?" he asked. Fred turned his wide eyes to the blond, and after coughing once, shook his head.
Draco swore. He was familiar with this curse. It didn't leave a mark, and left the victim unable to draw a breath at all. He was unfortunately the "test subject" for it back when his Aunt Bellatrix had been trying to perfect it.
It was an awful feeling.
"What is it?!" Ginny cried, seeing the look on Draco's face.
"A curse my Aunt invented. He'll suffocate."
Both the girls and George cried out in protest.
Draco quickly put his hands up. "Shut up!" he said. "She tested it on me, and while I was really out of it, she did have a countercurse for it. I just have to remember what it was."
Fred coughed again, and Draco was dismayed to see that there were now tears of panic streaming down the redhead's face.
Draco closed his eyes, trying to remember past the fogginess of being on the verge of passing out and hearing his aunt saying…something…
"Halitius," Draco muttered.
Fred was now being held up by both Ginny and George, and in the glow from their wand lights, Draco could see his lips turning blue.
Clearing his mind of the panic he was feeling, Draco pointed his wand at Fred's chest and clearly spoke the countercurse.
The reaction was almost immediate, as Fred's drooping eyes snapped open and he sucked in a still-labored breath, but a breath nonetheless. Draco spoke the countercurse again, and the next breath seemed easier. This process was repeated a few times as Fred's breathing slowly became easier.
When Draco finally stopped, Fred was slumped in his brother's arms. Draco looked over at Melody, who had been looking out the window, and she made her way back over to them.
"Was it such a great idea to come here?" Ginny asked, and for the first time, Draco could hear the ruckus outside of laughter and someone having a good time smashing things.
George spoke up. "Fred and I have wards all over the place. As long as we keep the lights to a minimum, we should be fine. After all, why on earth would they suspect us coming back to the Alley when the Ministry is like this? We're hiding under their noses…"
Draco nodded. It was a strange bit of logic, but it made sense nonetheless.
Draco looked at Fred who was looking at him, clearly exhausted from his breathing ordeal. "You gonna be okay?" Draco asked.
Fred nodded, and George pulled him into a proper hug, nodding at Draco, thanks clearly written on the older twin's face.
A moment later, Ginny leaned over and threw her arms around her brothers, and Melody knelt down, embracing what she could of Fred and George. Draco sat back on his heels, feeling a little awkward, but then Ginny's arm shot out and she pulled him in, wrapping her arm around his shoulders. Draco quickly responded in kind, wrapping one arm around Ginny and one arm around George.
Awkwardness gone, they each just sat in silence relishing in each other's safety.
It was almost a week later that they got a patronus from Mr. Weasley that said all was well and Ginny could come back via flue powder. After Ginny had hugged her brothers and Draco goodbye, she gave them a small smile and disappeared in a poof of green flame.
Melody had left earlier that week, being a little better off with her Slytherin housing status. None of the Death Eaters seemed to know that she had been friendly with the Weasley's.
With Ginny and Melody both gone, it was a lot quieter. The shop was still closed, as was most every other place in the Alley. The only place they knew was still open was Gringotts. They hadn't heard much from the Ministry, and everyone was living in fear of what was going to happen next.
Draco finally breached a subject that he had been wondering about.
"Can you guys show me how to use a patronus?"
It caught the twins off guard.
"Well…" George said.
"We know the basics-"
"-but we never actually-"
"-got to make-"
"a full one because-"
"someone and the pink toad-"
"decided to crash-"
"the lesson," they finished together.
It took Draco a moment to get what exactly they had said. And then he felt bad.
"Oh, it was when you were doing the Dumbledore's Army thing? Well, I guess after what I've heard about Potter having such a great patronus and all it makes sense that he was teaching you."
It was quiet for a moment, and then George said, "Hey, why don't we just work on it? We have a ton of time, and it did always bug me that Ginny got it and we didn't."
Fred nodded. "Yeah, and we can show you too, Draco."
Draco's heart felt light. The world might be really messed up right now, but this…this felt right.