Harry grabbed for his wand the moment he heard Malfoy start incanting. Unable to withdraw the slender piece of wood from his pocket as it had caught on the fabric, he had no other choice than to dodge the malevolent spell, which he only just managed to do. Before he had the chance to bring his wand out to defend himself or even feel a flicker of relief that he was, as yet, unharmed, the curse struck the wall of the archway he now stood beneath.
It was seconds too late before Draco realized his temptation to curse Potter had become action. Horrified, he watched as the spell he'd just uttered hit the archway and caused it to blast apart, burying the other boy under a pile of stone as it crumbled. Cold swept over him as he felt the blood drain from his face.
"P-Potter?" There was no answer. Noticing that his wand arm – which was still outstretched – had begun to shake, he slowly lowered it to his side. "Potter?" he called again, his voice rather more shrill than usual. He felt his heart clench painfully and his breathing became impossible to calm.
Potter still wasn't answering. Draco could see one of the other boy's shod feet sticking out, but no sound came from the pile of rubble now blocking the corridor.
"What did I do?" Draco gasped incredulously. "Uncle Sev's gonna kill me..." A noise from further down the hall caused him to tear his gaze away from the unmoving debris. Someone was coming. As a wave of panic washed over him, Draco did the first thing he could think of: he ran.
Severus frowned as Weasley and the Granger girl entered the Great Hall by themselves. Where was Harry? From their moderately baffled expressions as they scanned the length of the Gryffindor table, he surmised that they didn't know, either. He did not care for that thought in the least...
As he was contemplating this, a slim hand was placed upon his shoulder, causing him to tense. Severus had never really liked being touched, though, Lily had grown to be the exception to that rule. He looked up into the face of the one infringing upon his personal space. Frowning, he shrugged Minerva's hand away. She knew even better than most his aversion to personal contact.
"What is it, Minerva?" he asked coolly.
It was just as she leaned closer to avoid being overheard that the man noticed her expression was an unsettling mix of sympathy and concern. "It's Harry," she began.
Severus immediately rose to his feet. Heads turned at the sudden movement, but the Potions Master ignored the questioning gazes. "Where?" he whispered harshly.
"Hospital wing," his colleague answered just as quietly.
Heart hammering in his chest, he left without another word. He broke into a run the moment he cleared the door of the Great Hall. What had his idiot child gotten himself into this time? Merlin, he didn't even know what had happened. He could easily be overreacting. But Minerva had looked so solemn... Idiot – she always looks solemn.
But those thoughts did little to assuage his growing panic as he burst through the doors to the hospital wing moments later, uncertain of the sight that would greet him.
A short while before...
Poppy had just finished tending to the burns from a second-year's ill-performed candle lighting spell when a fourth-year Ravenclaw rushed into the ward, her pretty face drawn in distress.
"What is it?" the mediwitch demanded, looking over the girl swiftly and determining that she was uninjured. "What happened?"
"Archway collapsed... in the upper dungeon corridor," the girl panted. "Someone... was buried underneath. Pr-professor McGonagall said to tell you to come, right away!"
Madame Pomfrey nodded curtly. "Keep that wrapped," she told the second-year as she summoned her emergency kit. "You're free to go, but I expect you to return tomorrow after lunch so I can have another look at that." And without further ado, she hurried after the still breathless Ravenclaw.
The 'upper dungeon corridor' was just that: a corridor. One of the longer hallways in the castle, which tended to have anywhere from three to five rooms and two false doorways, it was referred to as the 'upper dungeon' because it was neither at the level of the ground floor nor the dungeons themselves, being a passage that led between the two floors. No one was certain who had first coined the phrase, but it had stuck, being adopted by staff and student alike.
By the time the mediwitch arrived at the scene, Professor Flitwick had joined the Transfiguration teacher and they were all carefully moving aside the fallen stone. The top and one side of the archway had collapsed. In a castle the size of Hogwarts, it really wasn't an impressive amount of damage, but the fallen debris was in enough quantity to cause more than sufficient damage to whoever had been caught underneath.
"Any idea what happened?" Poppy inquired, glancing about at her colleagues and the anxious group of students who were also present. One of them – a boy – was assisting his professors in freeing his trapped schoolmate.
"The edges of the stone there show evidence of being hit with a blasting curse," Flitwick answered, nodding towards the stonework in question.
"Students were dueling in the corridor?" the woman reiterated, sounding more resigned than surprised. This was neither the first nor, she suspected, the last time students ended up hurt while fighting in the halls.
"If so, there was no return spell fired," Filius stated, indicating the otherwise undamaged corridor.
"Do we know who it is?"
The students all shook their heads in response as McGonagall replied, "We're about to find out." True to her word, the last bit of stone was moved away to reveal the student unlucky enough to have been in its path.
Poppy immediately moved to the boy's side, seeking out his pulse. She was relieved to find one, faint but steady. A head wound was bleeding profusely and the boy's right arm and side seemed to have taken the brunt of the damage. After staunching the bleeding and feeding him a few vials of potion from her kit, she then addressed her coworkers.
"He's stable enough to move," she told them. "I'd prefer to have a proper look at him before treating him further."
"I'll help you take him to the hospital wing," Minerva immediately volunteered. Poppy nodded gratefully, rising to her feet. Together, they levitated the injured teen through the corridors, meeting surprisingly few for a Friday afternoon.
"Oh, Harry," Poppy sighed as they moved along. "Can't you go even one term without getting into trouble?"
Severus moved forward mechanically, feeling almost as though his legs were moving of their own volition. The ward was empty save for Poppy and the small form in the bed beside her. He finally slowed to a stop just across from her, his eyes fixed on the boy's pale face. His boy. His son, Harry, who was lying so still against the stark, white pillows...
"Is he..?" It took him a moment to realize that the pained, hoarse voice was his own.
"He's going to be alright, Severus," the mediwitch reassured him.
The Potions Master let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. "He's alive," he breathed. "What happened?"
"From what we can tell, he had some sort of confrontation with another student," the woman answered. "An archway was hit by a blasting curse and collapsed on top of him." She waited a moment to gauge his reaction before continuing.
"He has a concussion and a couple of his ribs were broken, though they did not puncture his lung. My main concern is the damage he received to his right arm and shoulder," she told him frankly. "I am fairly certain that he will never again have the same range of motion in his right shoulder that he'll have in his left. There should be no complication with the breaks in his forearm, but his hand..." she trailed off.
"His hand?" Severus prompted when it seemed she wouldn't finish.
"There's damage to the nerves, I... I don't know if he'll regain full function of his hand, if any at all," Poppy responded. "He'll need some physical therapy and even then he'll have to learn to do things left-handed, at least for awhile."
The man nodded somberly, his gaze returning to his son. "When did this happen?"
"About an hour ago. I'm sorry I didn't send for you sooner."
Severus glowered at her. "Damn right, you should be," he spat furiously. "Would you have waited an hour to inform the Weasleys that one of their children were hurt? What about one the other student's parents? I think not."
"It's not as though you had to send a message out to me – I'm right here in the castle," he bit out. "You have no excuse." This, he spoke as a dismissal, and feeling that he was right, even though his anger and accusation hurt, Poppy withdrew. Pausing at the door of her office, she glanced back in time to see Severus gently brush the fringe back from Harry's forehead. Tears pricked her eyes.
Her poor, poor boys.
Harry grabbed for his wand, but he couldn't find it in the endless pocket of his cousin's oversized cast-offs. He stumbled as he reached deeper into the ragged clothing, only to be yanked back to his feet by his arm, crying out as it was pulled from its socket again.
"Stop your sniveling, boy," Uncle Vernon snarled at him, giving him a shake that jarred his shoulder. He was thrown into his cupboard, the cleaning supplies toppling over and falling on his head. Heavy stomping upon the stairs sent dust and spiders flitting down. A new wave of agony overwhelmed him as a particularly large arachnid bit into his hand, the excruciating pain spreading over the limb before it grew numb and he couldn't feel it at all.
Harry started pounding against the small door with his uninjured hand, shocked to find that it had suddenly become a blank stone wall.
"You have to say the password," a silky voice intoned. Harry glanced back to see Snape looking down at him, his inscrutable black gaze boring into his own.
"Cliodna," the boy murmured to the wall. The door to the quarters did not appear.
"The password has been changed," the professor informed him and Harry's heart sank.
Of course, it'd been changed. The man must have realized he didn't want him, after all...
Desolation swept over him as the pain in his shoulder increased and a dull throb began to pound through his skull. Someone was shaking him, no doubt angry at him for being a freak. How could he be so stupid as to think that anyone could possibly want him? How could-
"Harry, you're having a nightmare."
He was? His dream world began to waver.
The hand that had been gently shaking his left shoulder moved to caress his cheek. It was cool against the side of his face, further releasing him from the clutches of his nightmare. "It's time to wake now, son."
Harry obediently opened his eyes and was greeted by a blurry figure standing over him. "Professor?" he murmured, squinting in an attempt to bring the world into focus. The hand brushed the hair back from his brow before pulling away. Harry mourned the loss of contact.
"How do you feel?" It was the professor – Harry would recognize that silky tone anywhere.
"Shoulder feels sore," he rasped, throat dry, "headache."
The man raised up the back of his bed, extending a cup and straw towards him. Harry gratefully sipped in through the straw, though, he probably could have taken the cup himself. "Better?" Snape asked.
Harry nodded. "Where are my glasses?"
"They were broken." Harry's eyebrows disappeared behind his fringe. "Reparo only works if you have all the pieces of the object you wish to fix."
"Oh," said Harry.
"They will be replaced shortly," the man told him. "Do you remember what happened?"
Frowning, the boy labored to recall what had occurred before he lost consciousness. "I was walking to your office and... I-I think I met someone. It's all really fuzzy." He directed questioning emerald eyes towards the Potions Master's face, not quite certain if he was meeting the man's gaze or not.
"From what we were able to assess, you had a confrontation with another student. The blasting curse was fired and hit one of the arches in the corridor. You were standing beneath it when it collapsed."
Harry winced, partially from the thought of an arch collapsing on top of him and partly from the twinge that shot up from his shoulder when he shifted a bit. "Ouch," he declared.
"Do you remember who tried to curse you?" Snape asked again.
"No, sir," Harry shook his head.
Before the professor could say anything more, Madame Pomfrey made her way towards the bed. "Ah, good," she said as she approached. "I see that you're awake, Mr. Potter. How do you feel?"
"Shoulder's sore. Head aches," Harry responded as he had when his professor asked the question.
"I'm afraid you've suffered some damage to the muscles and ligaments in your shoulder," the mediwitch told him. "It should feel right as rain in another day or so. I'll give you a pain draught that ought to relieve that and any other discomfort you might feel – including your headache."
"He also does not recall what happened," Snape informed her.
Poppy nodded. "I'm not surprised. It is likely he may never fully recall the incident," she said, and Snape inclined his head in acknowledgement. "Are you having difficulty remembering anything else?"
"No, ma'am," Harry answered.
"Good." She glanced at Snape, who gave a sharp nod, then asked, "And how is your hand, Harry?"
Harry frowned once more, curling his fingers experimentally against the blanket. His left hand responded immediately. He lifted it from his lap; it looked and behaved the same as it always had. Raising his other arm, he studied it with a critical eye. A splint extended from his mid forearm to the base of his fingers. Some of the nails were discolored, like they'd been the time Dudley had slammed his fingers in the car door.
The boy stared intently at his hand, as though willing it to respond to whatever message he might be sending it. Likely, he was doing just that.
"Harry?" Poppy prompted gently.
He looked up at them, green eyes bright with tears, his voice breaking as he responded. "I can't feel my hand."