That evening Hermione called Harry. She wanted to know if he’d hidden Draco’s secret on purpose. But she was also curious about his headaches. Perhaps she could include that into her research as well. Hopefully Harry remembered that particular spell…
She made up a story for why she’d been looking for him, and told him Elphaba had said he’d left early.
“Are you feeling any better?” she wondered.
“Marginally,” he grumbled.
“Perhaps you need someone to look at it…” Hermione suggested, but Harry wouldn’t hear of it. She quickly changed the subject.
“Draco has told me,” she simply said. “What you’ve been hinting at…”
“About the spell?” Harry was amazed at this development; he’d never imagined Draco owning up to it!
“So you and Lucius can no longer use it against him, nor me…” Hermione replied somewhat snappish.
“I wasn’t..” Harry retorted. “I was bound by secrecy, professionally, but it did make me wonder how many more secrets he would be able to hide from you. I just wanted you to be happy and not make a mistake in trusting him…”
“I know… I know..” she conciliated. “I’m just glad I know now and thought you should know that the cat’s out of the bag…”
“I never liked keeping secrets from you…” Harry admitted. His headache was slowly getting worse, but he didn’t want it to interfere with their conversation.
“Me neither…” Hermione smiled. Quarrelling with Harry always made her uneasy. “I’m glad we’ve sorted that out…”
“I take it you want to find out a way to beat them? Reverse the spell?” Harry wondered aloud.
“Damn right, I want to. I figure… If we could take on horcurxes, surely we must be able to… I’m nowhere near giving up on this….”
“Draco must be pleased to have the brightest witch of her age on his side…” Harry laughed, only to groan in pain seconds later.
“Harry… Harry? Are you sure you don’t want anyone to have a look at it…?”
“Yes,” he said brusquely. “Look Hermione.. I’m going to hang up now… We’ll talk when I feel better..”
When Ginny came home a few hours later, she saw her husband lying on the floor, fast asleep. The phone had slipped from his hand. His pale color made Ginny panic and she contacted the hospital.
A few minutes later, Draco Malfoy arrived at their house…
Draco had told his supervisor that he was not the right person for this house call, far from it. Potter’s wife would probably not trust him near the man…
“Only the best and the brightest for Harry Potter,” had been her answer. “At the moment, that is you…”
Draco tried to persuade her, but a stern look made him stop his attempt. He disapparated, shaking his head at the folly of sending him.
“You?” Ginny hissed at him, when he appeared at Potter’s house. “Couldn’t they get anyone better? You’d think they would send someone capable…”
“Look,” Draco began, “we can argue or I can try and see what I can do… Perhaps you should get Hermione? It will make you feel better and she can make sure I don’t poison him or something…”
“Good idea…” Ginny threw him another dark look before she complied. “He is through there…” she pointed him in the direction of the living room.
The Potter house, Grimmauld Place, was much more humbly decorated than Draco had expected. He knew Potter was rich, but the house didn’t look it. It was cosy, warm colours everywhere… Reds and golds very prevalent. He sighed. The signs of their difference always visible…
He slowly walked towards Harry’s body. It was a strange feeling. Years ago, this would have been some kind of triumph. A chance to finally give the Chosen One a final blow. Now all he could feel was a numbness. Did the mindless violence never stop? Would there always be a struggle, a war?
Ginny entered the room as well. “He is so pale, isn’t he? I don’t understand what happened… He must have been on the phone as it was lying next to him…”
Fortunately Draco knew what a phone was, knowledge he’d only acquired recently.
“He did have headaches ever since… They have been getting worse, but he wouldn’t let anyone near him. I think he felt guilty and perhaps…”
“The Jennings? They had something to do with this as well?” Draco asked.
“They… the two sons. Ever since they fought him, he’s been having these headaches and he was too stubborn to…”
“Visit a healer?”
Ginny nodded. Draco huffed at the stupidity. Stupid wounded pride of the so called hero…
“Ginny? What has happened?” They heard Hermione’s voice calling out for them. “Draco? What are you doing here?”
“They sent me…” he replied. “Potter has collapsed; the phone was next to him..”
“But then…” Hermione clasped her hand over her mouth. “I called him hours ago… He hung up on me saying the headache was getting worse… I thought he was just going to sleep, get some rest…”
“When was this precisely?” Draco bended over Harry’s body using a spell to check his vital signs.
“Two hours,” Hermione checked her watch, “maybe closer to two and a half…”
“Do you think he’s been unconscious all this time?” Ginny shrieked, tugging Draco’s sleeve.
“Looks like it…” he mumbled. “He’s in a very deep sleep…”
“A coma?” Hermione whispered.
“I don’t know what that is… He seems to be in an altered state. I wonder if…” Draco bit his lip. He wanted to spare the two women yet they had a right to know the truth. “I can’t be sure but…”
“Just spill it out, will you!” Ginny’s fiery eyes pierced his.
“They could have cast a slow working… used a spell that increased in power over time… Beginning with small headaches, weakening the opponent, but not alerting them to its growing power until it was…”
Too late… The unspoken words reverberated throughout the room nevertheless.
“It does seem to fit their mode of action…” Hermione finally spoke. “With Ron it was extremely quick, but with you…” she looked at Draco. “All seemed fine, you didn’t know until much later… They are awfully deceptive…”
Ginny didn’t understand nor care what Hermione was referring to. “Is there nothing you can do?” she shrieked, her hands trembling.
“We’ll get him to the hospital. He needs specialized care…” Draco replied.