The Search for Life and Death

The Injured

THE SEARCH FOR LIFE AND DEATH

VII

The Injured

Dumbledore had little else to do between his impromptu meeting with Kingsley Shacklebolt and the scheduled meeting with Elena and Severus. He had moped for some time in his office, but then had thought it best that he visit his other ailing student, as well. The trip to St. Mungo's never took very long for the Supreme Mugwump and Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Withcraft and Wizardry. Only Mad-Eye Moody had offered him any trouble, and it had been a refreshing familiarity. The man had demanded Dumbledore answer a series of questions to prove he was who he said, and Dumbledore had, of course, passed the test, bidding Alastor a pleasant evening as he went to visit Draco Malfoy.

The boy in question had been asleep when Dumbledore made his way into the room, but that was probably for the best. Draco needed his rest, and his being awake would do nothing but allow him to witness the various nurses and guards gawking at him, poor child. Such a thing was never comfortable for anyone. Standing at the end of the bed and gazing upon the child wearied Dumbledore. No child, no matter who they were, should be forced to suffer such a fate as this.

Blankets were pulled up to Draco's armpits, one arm tucked beneath their folds while another, wrapped tightly in bandages, lay on top of his chest. Small cuts across the boy's face and neck were clearly healing due to the effects of a oily paste that gleamed in the room's light, and bruises that permeated Draco's pale flesh were also beginning to fade. The most noticeable of all the injuries, however, were those that covered the left side of the boy's face.

There were four scars, revealing the identity and nature of the spell. Parallel to each other, the scars looked almost exactly like the scars an animal might make from slashing a paw across one's face. The spell itself was one that mimicked the attack of the caster's animagus form, and was only capable of being cast by those who were animagi. Lucius Malfoy, Dumbledore knew, was a registered animagus with the form of a wolverine – an incredibly vicious and dangerous animal. The spell itself was not often used because of its nature – it was used to harm, nothing more, and was considered Dark for that reason. Dumbledore had never seen fit to disagree and was horrified to find that such a curse had been used by Lucius on his own son.

The curse had caught Draco's eye with two "claws," and because it was a curse scar, Dumbledore knew it would forever remain. The boy's pale features would forever be marred by the shiny, almost silver lines of a wolverine's claws – his father's claws.

Draco had lost sight in one eye because of his father's actions, but Dumbledore wondered if Lucius realized how much he had lost. It seemed unlikely, but Lucius Malfoy had destroyed something very precious, and he would never be able to get it back.

"Ah, Severus, Elena, good, you're here." Dumbledore stood up and walked around his desk to face them, all trace of sorrow gone from his face. "Conan is in appropriate care, I take it?"

"Minerva is holding his attention for the moment," Elena said, folding her arms behind her back. "What did you wish to speak to us about, Albus?"

"Harry Potter."

Severus groaned and threw himself into a chair. He did not want to be discussing this.

Elena frowned at her husband but turned her attention to the headmaster. "What is this about Harry Potter, Albus?"

"I see Severus has told you nothing of what had occurred recently. I suppose the duty should fall to the one who caused such misery." Dumbledore folded his hands inside his sleeves. "Harry Potter was brought to Hogwarts from his relatives home in dire need of medical attention."

Severus scoffed. "Medical attention, Headmaster? The boy's heart had stopped."

Elena gasped and turned fully to face her husband. "Severus? This is the boy you hate so much?" Severus grimaced. "Was he attacked?"

"His relatives were abusive." Elena turned back to the headmaster. "None of us were aware, or at least aware of how badly he was treated at home. They had hurt him severely before someone found him. Madam Pomfrey and Severus were able to heal him considerably, and he is in the Infirmary as we speak. With luck, he should be able to go home with his guardian, and while that is what I originally called you here to discuss, it is a matter that can wait. Harry is in good care for the moment, and we have a more pressing matter to attend to.

"Namely, Severus – your godson."

Severus' attention was fully summoned at this and he recognized the grave severity in the headmaster's face for what it was. "Draco-"

"Is in St. Mungo's, undergoing professional treatment for his injuries, and under guard from Aurors intent on being certain that no one should do any greater harm to him than has already been done."

"What's been done to him?" Snape asked. It would have been a demand, but he couldn't quite gain the pitch in his voice that he usually reserved for such commands. His thin fingers were white on the arms of the chair he sat in. Elena stood beside him, her olive-toned skin doing nothing to dampen the gleam of her eyes, blazing ferocity.

"Lucius attacked Draco with a variety of curses, not the least of which was the Cruciatus." Severus closed his eyes. "Narcissa is dead, Severus." The Potions Master opened his eyes again, to look at Dumbledore. "Lucius killed her, and was attacking Draco while he attempted to protect his mother from further mutilation."

"Is Draco- will he be all right?" Elena asked. Her voice sounded plaintive and frightened, but for one to look at her, they would realize she was anything but. She was restraining herself, it was clear, for her hands were clenched into tight fists, her lips pressed together into a firm white line, and her eyes were a raging hailstorm of anger. She looked ready to kill – ready to kill Lucius Malfoy – and both men were quite happy not to be him.

"The healers have done most the work that can be accomplished short term. Much of the rest that must be done will be over a period of time, and for this, he will most likely be more comfortable in the company of his godfather." Dumbledore nodded at Severus. "Some damages cannot be repaired, however."

"What do you mean?" Snape asked, his heart leaping up into his throat. He knew the dangers of the Cruciatus Curse – knew the horrors that it caused. If such a fate had befallen Draco, his godson who had been cursed with a father much as Snape himself had been, Severus would find Lucius Malfoy himself and rid the man of his breeding tools before he decided how to dispose of the monster – slowly, of course, very slowly.

"Some of the damage to Draco's face was rather severe," Dumbledore continued, "as was the effect it had on his eyesight." Snape's throat went dry. "He can still see out of one eye, which is a blessing and very nearly a miracle, but I'm afraid nothing can be done for the other.

"I have informed Kingsley Shacklebolt, who rescued Draco before further harm could come to him, that Draco will soon be moved into your care. I have asked that he firecall as soon as Draco wakes up. I believe that the best place for you to take him would be Headquarters. Alastor and young Nymphadora Tonks are watching over Draco at the moment, but I fear his father may seek to complete his failed task."

"Lucius is still alive?" Snape demanded, sitting forward in the chair as though flung. "If Shacklebolt stopped him from harming Draco further, why did he not see fit to destroy the bastard?"

"Kingsley was aware that Draco was in dire need and was swift to take him to St. Mungo's. Lucius was bound, but he managed to escape before more Aurors could arrive. His whereabouts are currently unknown."

"Not difficult to guess."

"Indeed." Dumbledore carefully folded each of his hands into the opposing sleeve of his robes. "Severus, I might suggest that you prepare any potions that Poppy might need. I believe that Kingsley may call soon and I know you will wish to visit Draco immediately."

Severus nodded and stood up, turning on his heel to leave the room. Elena moved to follow the billowing robes of her husband, but Dumbledore called her back.

"Elena, my dear, if you have a moment, there is a delicate matter I have that must be dealt with promptly. I had hoped you might consider it."

Severus had paused in the doorway, looking back at Elena. She smiled at him and waved him off. "I'll be along shortly, Severus. Go to your brewing so you can collect Draco."

The Potions Master nodded and left the room, allowing the door to click shut behind him. Elena turned back to Dumbledore and folded her hands behind her back. "What's on your mind, Albus?"

Dumbledore smiled at the use of his first name. Of all the professors who worked at Hogwarts, only Minerva called him by his given name. After a while, it became something to be feared – hearing Minerva say his name. She was a formidable woman and she was always certain to make sure that her views were taken in. Dumbledore would have been annoyed at how she always claimed he stubbornly held to his views, but it was true. It was one of his more spectacular faults – his refusal to even listen to the ideas of others.

Still, it was nice to hear his name come from the lips of someone who was not about to wring him out. Elena had apprenticed in Greece and had not known Dumbledore until after she had been of age. In the presence of others, she referred to him as Headmaster and sometimes even Professor Dumbledore, but alone she referred to him by his given name, which he preferred. She had not been his student, like the others, or in some cases, like Filius, his superior.

"You are aware, of course, of Sirius Black's situation." Dumbledore had explained to her before the secrecy around Sirius' whereabouts, and his innocence. At her nod, he continued. "Sirius is Harry Potter's godfather and, under normal circumstances, would have taken custody of him years ago. As it is, with the current events having revealed themselves for what they are, I hope to place custody of Harry in the hands of Remus Lupin, a close friend of Sirius whom I trust deeply."

Elena nodded, smiling softly. She had not yet had the pleasure of meeting Remus, but she had heard great things from many of the professors. Minerva McGonagall, who Elena had to admit was both very intimidating and very inspiring, had given a stunning recommendation of Remus for her to ponder over.

Of course, Severus had scoffed at and nearly outright argued against the praise, but Elena had shushed him at the time and allowed him to discuss it with her later. She recognized bitterness when she saw it, especially in Severus, who she thought might be the prince of bitterness himself, and she didn't put much stock in his views.

"Remus is very happy at the chance to help care for Harry. Unfortunately, he suffers from an infliction which prevents him having sole guardianship."

"Yes, his Lycanthropy," Elena said sadly, nodding. She saw Dumbledore falter in surprise. "Ah. I have an… acquaintance who works in the Ministry. When they heard that I was coming to Hogwarts to offer my services as a professor, they felt the need to warn me about the position I said I was taking up."

"Ah." Dumbledore nodded sagely. "They should not have revealed that."

"No, they shouldn't have," Elena agreed, "which is why I saw fit to Obliviate them."

Dumbledore raised his eyebrows, blue eyes twinkling. He chuckled lightly. "How very clandestine of you, Elena."

She nodded her head slightly in acknowledgment of what she chose to interpret as subtle praise. "If Remus' Lycanthropy keeps him from holding sole guardianship of Harry, may I assume you need someone to take secondary?"

Smiling, Dumbledore nodded. "That is correct. I was hoping you might accept, as we discussed earlier that you were likely to be spending a great deal of time at Grimmauld Place."

"I would be happy to accept, of course, Albus. However, I don't think I could do so on good conscience without first discussing this with Remus, as I will be under co-guardianship."

"Honorable of you, Elena. Remus is in the hospital wing, watching over Harry. If you wish, you may visit him there." Elena smile and rose to her feet. "I would offer a warning, however, about Sirius. He was particularly against the idea, considering your relationship with Severus."

"Yes, I've no doubt that Severus will have an equal amount to say about it when I tell him." Dumbledore's eyes were twinkling madly, and Elena found she couldn't help but laugh. "Wouldn't it be amazing if they could agree so easily on everything else."

"Indeed. I'll leave you to it, Elena."

"Have a good evening, Albus."

Conan was bored. Spending time with Aunt Minerva had been great, and meeting some of the older students had been really exciting. The Weasleys hadn't been incredibly happy, however – not like Conan was at being at Hogwarts over the summer. They had all looked rather concerned about something, but they'd been nice enough. The two twins had been the greatest, all talking after one another and completing one another's sentences, and discussing some pranks that they had pulled. Conan had heard a little about them, of course, from his dad. He called them the Gemini Toxins, but they introduced themselves as Gred and Forge.

Once they had left, Conan had spent some time with Aunt Minerva, talking about getting ready for classes and how excited he was to go to Diagon Alley and get his wand, and a little bit about the Weasleys. Aunt Minerva gave him a mild warning about the Weasley twins, but it was clear that they amused her to a degree.

After that, Aunt Minerva had to get back to work, filling out paperwork and preparing to send out letters to new and returning students. She had received a message from Severus that he had returned to his labs, and so Aunt Minerva sent him off to head back to the labs, down in the dungeons. The only problem was that his dad would be brewing potions, and Conan didn't like potions.

Conan liked history, and if not for the fact that he only ever talked about the Goblin Wars, Conan would happily go see Professor Binns, but there was really only so much to be learned about the goblins and their wars before things became repetitive and Conan got bored. So, Professor Binns was out of the question, Aunt Minerva was busy, and his dad would be wrapped in a cloak of nightshade and other potions ingredients that Conan always saw fit to flee from.

Madam Pomfrey it was!

With a grin on his face, Conan dashed down the corridors at a full run toward the hospital wing.

"Conan?" Elena walked through her husband's quarters and slipped into the labs via a secret passage few knew about. She glanced around, but was unable to find her son. Severus had already left, his potions successfully completed and sent to Madam—

Elena smiled. Ah yes. Poppy.

Turning, Elena left the labs and hurried up to the hospital wing. She had gone to speak to Minerva first about Albus' request of her, and had learned of Conan's assumed whereabouts. In that time, Severus had finished his necessary brewing and Draco had woken up. Albus and Severus had left to collect him.

And Conan was off bothering Madam Pomfrey. Elena resisted the urge to sigh. She loved her boy dearly, but sometimes she wondered how she could have spawned a child as sociable as Conan, when his father was one of the most antisocial people she had ever met.

It didn't take Elena very long to reach the Hospital Wing, as she'd learned the layout of Hogwarts years before and had little trouble navigating the moving staircases. She didn't know if this was Hogwarts' attitude toward people who had never been students within the confines of her walls, or if a particular headmaster had something to do with it.

In any case, Elena walked into the hospital wing to find her son, and found him. He was sitting cross-legged in the center of a hospital bed, talking emphatically to a sandy-haired man who appeared rather amused by the boy's antics. They both glanced up as she walked in.

"Mum!" Conan bounded from the bed and raced over to her, wrapping his arms about her waist. "Mum! Mr. Lupin was a professor here, did you know? He's knows all sorts of stuff!"

"Does he now?" Elena smiled down at her son and then graced the man – Mr. Lupin – with an appreciative smile. He returned it, and she was rather pleased with how the expression lit up his face. "You would be Remus Lupin, then, I take it?" A blur of movement out of the corner of her eye made her glance at one of the hospital beds, where a young boy lay sleeping with a great black dog lying at his feet. She blinked for a moment, and then smiled, turning back to the man before her.

"That would be me, yes." Remus held out his hand and shook hers. "It's a pleasure to meet Conan's mother. He's quite a smart child."

"Thank you." She smiled down at her son. "And it's Elena. Elena Morely." She tried not to be too amused at how quickly the dog's head snapped up. Hello to you, too, Mr. Black.

Could the Malfoys use the Dursleys as an example and use it to get Fudge to lose all respect for muggles?

I have no doubt that they would certainly attempt to do so. Lucius is an opportunist and, should he gain such information, it would be in his nature to use it to his advantage. We all know that Fudge has previously been easily manipulated by Lucius, but as to whether such a thing will happen has yet to be seen.

Would Voldemort decide to keep Harry as a pet instead of killing him?

Even deaf and mute, the prophecy still exists, and Voldemort knows enough about it to fear Harry in any capacity.

Did I get it right that he's going to live with Harry and the others for the summer?

That is the plan that Dumbledore has in mind, yes, the safest place for both Harry and Draco being Headquarters.

Are Draco and Harry gonna meet soon?

It won't be overly long, but there are going to be a few complications before our two wounded boys get together.

...with a story like this, how on earth hasn't it breached the hundred-reviews threshold, or even the five-hundred-reviews one, like it clearly deserves?

You're sweet. I look forward to the day when I break the 100-review threshold.

'Nightmares of futures past' is an amazing fic, like yours.

Oh, dear. I never thought to even compare mine to such a brilliant fic as that, so thank you!

Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who reviewed! I hope you enjoyed the chapter and will let me know what you think. Hopefully, I will have the next chapter up sooner than this one, but we shall see. Finals are crawling upon me far swifter than I would have thought possible.

The fic I am recommending today is The Best Revenge, by Arsinoe de Blassenville. It is beautifully long and one of my favorites to read.

Enjoy, have a wonderful holiday, and, as always,

Live long. Live well. Write. Read. Dream.

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