'Elizabeth! We have an emergency here now!' Severus barked at the portrait concealing her rooms. He tried to remove his hand from Draco's blood-soaked shoulder to hammer on the frame, but the boy just would not hold his own weight. Understandable, of course, but still. 'Elizabeth!'
'Yes, yes, Severus, I'm coming – what's the big d-' She had flung open the portrait, and froze when she saw the almost limp body of Draco Malfoy slung over the teacher's arm. 'Draco! Severus, what -?'
'Your precious Potter cast Sectumsempra on him in the boys' bathroom just now.' Snape shifted Draco's weight, and Elizabeth led the two quickly into the living chambers, motioning for him to lay the boy in the bedroom.
'He what?! But how could he know-?' Leading him through the door, she moved the pillows to allow Draco's head to lie flat.
'Indeed. I need you to apply dittany as quickly as possible – too many questions if I brought him to Poppy, you understand.' He finally was able to set Draco down onto the plush duvet.
'Of course…' As she spoke, she flicked her wand at her cupboard to retrieve the requested dittany, as well as a sleeping draught and a blood replenishing potion. I have to take care of something, but I'll be back soon, and –'
'Severus, please don't kill Harry,' she told him wearily as she applied the plant to the scars covering Draco's body.
'I'll help you when I return,' he continued flatly, inwardly shaking his head at her devotion.
He left them alone then, Elizabeth working steadily and silently, applying various poultices until she noticed him twitching beneath her touch. 'Draco,' she called softly, smoothing his hair gently away from his damp and pale face. 'Draco, can you hear me?' She heard a groan, and summoned a bowl of cool water and cloth to bathe his skin. 'You're alright, Draco. You're just fine… just rest now…'
'Potter! Where is he, I'll –' He tried to get up, but Elizabeth's hold on his shoulder was too firm.
'Draco, hush now. Professor Snape has gone to deal with Harry. What you need now is rest.'
'I'm fine, Elizabeth, insufferable woman!' he barked, trying to regain his composure. 'I'll get that Potter if it's the last thing I…' He had moved his arm, and had finally noticed the blood covering his body. His already pale, almost sallow, skin went even paler, and Elizabeth could feel the fear radiating off his body. 'What…?' he asked weakly, allowing her to lift his back against the headboard.
'Don't think about it, Draco. Please don't. What you need now is rest – you look as if you've not slept in weeks.' She filled a goblet with blood replenishing potion, and lifted it to his lips. 'Drink this, Draco.'
He did, and when it touched his lips, he grimaced slightly. 'That is rather repulsive.'
'I know, Draco. One more sip, please….'
Again, he followed her direction, and asked, 'What was that?'
She didn't answer as she cleaned the goblet and filled it with the next potion. 'That,' she told him, 'was a blood replenishing potion. And this,' she lifted the cup, as if in salute, 'is a sleeping draught.'
He shook his head, and muttered, 'I can't – I need to go, I need to finish –'
'No matter what, Draco, your health comes first. Not… not revenge, not any projects you have going –' here she noted the look on his face; a mixture of panic and confusion '– because I'm sure your professors will understand if I speak to them –'
'No,' he snapped, trying again to get up. 'I have to go'.
'Draco!' Elizabeth's voice was no longer the matronly coo Draco had been accustomed to, especially in his present state. It was sharp and clipped, like a general commanding an army – or a strict teacher in a rowdy classroom. 'Sit back down, get under the covers and drink. Now. I will not have students expiring on my watch.'
Draco froze, half standing, and slowly lowered himself back into the downy duvet. 'Yes, ma'am,' he muttered, turning his face away from her.
'Dear boy,' she sighed, her tone soft again. 'You're worn far too thin.' She straightened the covers over his slender frame, pet back his bangs over his sweaty brow, and lifted the goblet of sleeping potion to his lips once again. 'Sleep, and rest assured you won't dream. If you need anything, I'll be right here.'
He turned to face her now, silver eyes piercing indigo brown. Unfallen tears from more than a decade and a half of lack of love lingered in silver.
After an eternal moment, Draco murmured, 'You're going to stay?'
'Of course,' she smiled gently. 'And if you need anything, I'll be right here beside you.'
'On my life.'
Confusion still abound on his features, his eyes not leaving hers, Draco reached for the goblet and downed the entire thing. Blanching, he asked, 'Why is it all useful potions taste so repulsive?'
She chuckled, and replied, 'You get used to the taste, after a while.'
His mind already becoming slow, he asked, 'You got used to it?'
'Yes,' she told him, pushing him down so he would be more comfortable, and fluffing his pillows.
'Why d'you need it?' he persisted, his speech becoming garbled in sleep. He fought it, though, trying to keep his eyes open, his mind sharp. The mystery of Elizabeth Holmes was finally to be answered.
Smiling ruefully, Elizabeth kissed his forehead gently and murmured, 'Some things are better to forget. Sweet sleep, Draco.'
And with that, he fell asleep, and did not dream.
Not long after, Severus arrived, still covered in Draco's blood, and angrier than Elizabeth had ever seen him.
Leaving Draco's bedside, she joined him in the living room.
'Severus, please, calm down, you'll wake – '
'I will not calm down, Elizabeth, do you know the implications of what Potter has done?'
'I am aware of the spell's usage.'
'Do you remember where you first learned of it?'
Her brow furrowed, Elizabeth responded, 'No. I know you told me of it once, but…' A look of alarm spread across her features then. 'You wrote it in the Potions book.'
'Exactly. And he had the impudence to deny it! I told him to bring me the book, but he'd replaced it, somehow. Switched it with Weasley's.'
'It's not as if he knows your childhood nickname, Severus. But what did you say to him?'
'I have given him detention every Saturday from now until the end of the year.'
'Do not tell me you sympathize with the boy, Elizabeth!'
'I don't – what he did was horrible, and I can't believe he was even able to cast such a powerful dark spell, but Severus, it was you who created the damn thing.'
'Do not turn this on me!'
'I'm not – I'm just saying that perhaps you shouldn't be quite so harsh. I would expect it was an accident.'
'Elizabeth – '
'I'm simply saying, Severus. Besides, this means you have to be with him every Saturday morning for the rest of the year.'
'Hardly. I can leave him to clean the dungeons alone.'
'Severus – '
'No. Now, I have to bring Draco to the hospital wing – it appears Myrtle has told the entire castle what happened, and, of course, Poppy will be wondering after her patient.'
Sighing in resignation, Elizabeth nodded and led him into the bedroom. Draco was still sleeping soundly, and Elizabeth was pleased to see he had regained some colour. 'I'm coming with you. I told him I would be by him until he woke up, just in case. Please be careful – he hasn't had a decent night's' sleep in ages.'
'How do you know?'
A dark cloud passed her features. 'I know.'
Nodding in acknowledgement, he flicked his wand to form a stretcher, and three made their way up to the hospital wing.
'Why you didn't bring him here in the first place is beyond me, Severus, I mean – I am the school nurse, after all.'
'Elizabeth's rooms were closer, and I needed to deal with Potter.'
'It's true, then? Potter did it?'
'Hmm. Always a nice boy when he or his friends are in here. Are you sure?'
'Myrtle witnessed the entire thing.'
'Did she say exactly what happened?'
'Would you two quit gossiping like a couple of fish wives? You're going to wake him.' Elizabeth sat at Draco's bedside with a book in her hands, eyes flicking over to the boy sleeping beside her.
Affronted from being told what to do in her own hospital wing, Madam Pomfrey stalked off to her office, leaving Elizabeth and Severus alone with the sleeping Draco between them.
Offering him an apathetic smile, Elizabeth said, 'She's the one who always yells at us for talking too much. Perhaps she doesn't like the taste of her own medicine. No pun intended, of course.'
Chuckling, Severus tried to hide his smirk. 'Quite.'
There was a silence in which Elizabeth's eyes shot over to Draco, and back to Severus.
'Listen. I didn't mean to say it was your fault, and – '
'No harm, Elizabeth.'
'I know. I just want to make sure you know I don't connect you with. You know. The dark arts.'
'You never did.'
'And that I don't hold it against you. Your past, I mean.'
'You never have.'
'Just checking.' Elizabeth smiled, and stood to join him at the end of Draco's bed. 'You're rather wonderful, Sev. You know that, don't you?' In response to his scepticism, she continued, 'Truly. You care so much, and you don't want anything in return. It's very admirable.'
'Thank you, I suppose.' Seeing Draco twitch, however, Severus gently pushed Elizabeth away and back to her post by the bed. 'He will be rather disappointed if you are not there when he awakes.'She nodded, sat back down in her seat, and watched as Severus left them alone.