Blinded at the age of four, Harry Potter only wants to lead a normal life with his family. On his eleventh birthday, he finds out that he can have anything but...
The Merlin common room lay shrouded in darkness. The only source of light this late at night were flames flickering in the fireplace and their wavering illumination made the shadows seem to dance on the walls. Hidden among them, beside a couch, Harry Potter lay trapped in the spell cast by Hermione Granger, a girl he had considered his friend.
The boy lay unmoving. Trapped in a full body bind, he would be stuck there until the spell expired or someone with enough power and knowledge freed him. Most victims of this spell would be incapable of even the smallest movements. Most, but not all.
Harry struggled against the net of magic that surrounded him as he cursed his own stupidity. Hermione had surprised him. He would never have thought she would do something like this. She'd even claimed that it was for his own safety, no less! The back of his head throbbed where he'd fallen, and he was sure that his skull may be cracked. Grimacing in pain, he focused his attention back on the job at hand.
It had taken some time, but Harry was starting to unravel the threads of magic that held him bound. It really wasn't that different from how he manipulated potions. The problem was that, while not too complex, the streams of sparks that made up this spell were difficult to change and it was taking far too long. He was still feverishly working at the spells with his magic when he heard a noise from the stairs.
Draco had first awakened when Harry and Neville had gotten out of bed. He'd wanted to see what was going on, but Neville would have raised a fuss like he always did, and Harry...he dreaded the next confrontation between the other boy and himself. When Harry had woken up in the Room of Requirement, he had been injured and only half conscious. Draco had tried to delude himself into believing Harry hadn't meant the things he said. If they were to talk now and Harry told him again that he hated him...Draco didn't think he could stand it.
He'd stayed in bed after they'd left the dorm, trying not to be miserable. Hedwig, who'd taken up the practice of sneaking into his bed and night and sleeping on his pillow, was nuzzling his cheek with her feathered head when they heard slightly raised voices down in the common room followed by a muffled thump. Draco waited a minute or two, listening for more, but whatever had occurred seemed to be over.
Curiosity getting the better of him, the blonde rose quietly and pulled on a housecoat. Wand in hand, he crept down the stairs with Hedwig draped over his shoulders. The room was dark; the fire was banked low and casting flickering shadows about the room. Seeing nothing amiss, Draco turned to go back up to bed when he heard the grunt.
It had been quiet and he nearly missed it, but Draco was sure he'd heard something. Hedwig had also reacted to the noise. Alert, she tested the air with her tongue for a time then sprung into the air violently, nearly knocking Draco from his feet. She flew across the room, setting down in the shadows by a couch. Moving to where she'd landed, he gasped at the sight of his friend still in a full body bind.
For the first time in months, he actually felt a bit grateful to his father for something. Lucius had Draco tutored in several curses and counter-curses before he'd even received his Hogwarts letter. With a flourish of his wand, the blonde cast "Finite Incantatem."
The spell, which had already unraveled to the point that Harry's right hand was free, collapsed. Scrambling to his feet, Harry spared barely a thank you to Draco and strode purposefully toward the portrait hole. Draco had no idea what exactly had happened, nor who had done it. What he did know was that Harry was truly pissed at someone else than him, and The Malfoy heir had no intentions of missing any of the fireworks. Without a word, Draco fell in behind Harry and followed eagerly.
Moving stealthily, they dodged around Mrs. Norris as she patrolled the corridors. They continued on, finding no obstacles until they came to the foot of the grand staircase where Peeves appeared out of the shadows.
"Well, what have we here?" he asked with an impish grin. "Firsties out of bed at this hour? I think Filch would be interested, don't you?"
"Please Peeves," whispered Harry urgently. "We're on our way to ransack Filch's office, but we won't get there if we're caught."
The poltergeist seemed to think about that for a moment, then with an impish grin, vanished into the wall.
"You know you'd have done really well in Slytherin," whispered Draco as he eyed the other boy with new respect.
"So I've heard," answered Harry quietly as he continued up the stairs.
"You suppose he's letting us pass or gone to get Filch?"
Harry really didn't know what Peeves was up to and he couldn't worry about it now. It was short work getting to the third floor corridor. Reaching the door, they found it unlocked and slightly ajar with the sounds of heavy breathing and low growls coming from beyond.
"So now what?" asked Draco in a fierce whisper. "The dog isn't going to just let us pass."
The blonde flinched as Harry pulled out a bit of wood that he took to be the other boy's wand. Harry couldn't be thinking of attacking that monster, not after Neville. Then he realized that the wand had no handle and there were holes drilled in it down its entire length.
"What's that for?"
"Music puts Fluffy to sleep," explained Harry.
"You can play an instrument?"
"I can play three. Television really isn't that entertaining to me."
With a puzzled look, Draco asked, "What's television?"
Harry only shook his head, pushed the door open further and began to play his flute. As he did, his thoughts went back to the first time he became interested in playing music.
It had been 1985 and Harry's first term at St. Mary's. The boy had been without his sight for more than a year and, while he had learned to function reasonably well since the accident, he'd never allowed himself to mourn his loss. He was a bit of a loner, no friends to speak of, and he'd cut himself off emotionally from everyone he knew. Lately he'd begun acting belligerently towards his instructors and even with Petunia. It was as if he wanted everyone mad at him. On a brisk morning when the other children were outside enjoying the sunshine, he heard it for the first time.
It was a hollow, mournful sound coming from a classroom nearby. As he listened, the notes seemed to pull on his heart and brought tears to his eyes. Going to the doorway, he listened for a time, mesmerized by the music but too frightened to enter, thinking that the intruding would make it stop. Harry was a bit startled when the music finally did stop and he heard Miss Ash, one of his instructors, address him.
"Come in Harry. Have a seat beside me. I'll play another if you'd like."
Uncertain of himself, but knowing that he did want to hear more, he did as was asked and sat down.
"Let me play you one of my favourites. This is called Greensleeves."
Greensleeves had been the first song he'd learned to play and was the song he was using now to lull Fluffy to sleep. As they walked slowly toward the dog, three sets of eyes drooped and then closed. The room was still shielded against magic and left Harry without the benefit of his extra senses. He closed his inner eye again and let Draco lead him to the trap door. The blond opened it and peered fearfully into the blackness.
"We don't really have to do this, do we?" His question answered by the set look on Harry's face, Draco grimaced and nodded. "Right then. I'll go first."
Harry tried not to smile at the other boy's words. As if Draco would stay up here with Fluffy after the music stopped. The blonde, in the meantime, had climbed down until he was hanging from the opening by his fingertips. Letting go, he dropped a surprisingly short distance and landed on something soft.
"It's alright," he called "It's not very far at all."
Using the sound of Draco's voice, Harry was able to estimate the distance to the floor of the other chamber. He shuffled to the edge of the trapdoor and prepared to jump. Hedwig launched herself into the air just as he stepped off into the blackness. His second sight was still useless, but he knew where the ground should be and met it with bent knees as he used his other senses to check the room.
He was standing on something soft. It was cool and moist, giving off a smell that was reminiscent of vegetables and rotting meat. There was also the odour of scorched vegetation, as if something had been burned in here recently.
"What is this?" asked Draco in the half-light as he kicked a limp tendril.
"Devil's Snare I think," answered Harry "It smells like someone cooked it not too long ago. It feels like it's still stunned."
"You mean it's not dead?" asked the blond, sounding suddenly worried.
Shaking his head, Harry said, "It's really hard to kill. But it should be a few more minutes till it regenerates." He relaxed a bit as he felt Hedwig land on his shoulder. Tilting his head in Draco's direction, he asked, "Is there a door or a corridor?"
Looking about, Draco brightened and said, "Over here; this way."
They followed a long, descending tunnel that seemed to go on forever. After a time, they began hearing odd noises that sounded like the rustling of feathers and clinking.
"What do you suppose it is?" asked Draco uncertainly. "Ghosts?"
Shaking his head, Harry ventured, "Birds I think."
Moments later they entered a huge room filled with hundreds of tiny, winged forms darting about high above them.
"What do you see?" Harry asked.
"Looks like you were right. There's tons of them. There's some brooms floating off in a corner and a door directly across from us."
Together, they darted across the room with Harry holding on to Draco's shoulder just like he had early in their first term when he was still learning to navigate the corridors. Arriving at the door, the blond tried twisting the knob.
"It's locked," he said.
Pulling out his wand, Harry cast, "Alohomora." The door, unfortunately, was less than accommodating and remained tightly locked.
"So how do we get through?" the blond asked in frustration.
"Look around. There's got to be a way," answered Harry.
They spent several minutes searching the room, finding a broken broom at the base along one of the walls. Suddenly Draco let out a quiet curse.
"What?" Harry asked.
"The birds," explained Draco. "They're really keys with wings. One of them must open the door."
Exasperated, Harry asked, "So how do we find and get the right key?"
Glancing at the brooms in the corner, Draco answered, "I'll have to go and get it. "
For the next five minutes, Draco dove and chased different keys around the room, unable to get a hold of any. Giving up for the moment, he landed beside Harry. "It's impossible. I've figured out what key it is, but it's just too fast."
Harry leaned against the wall thinking hard. Coming to a decision, he asked, "You want us to go back to being regular friends someday, right?"
Stunned for a moment, Draco quickly nodded. Then, blushing furiously at what he'd just done, he answered, "Of course!"
"Right then. What I'm going to do, you need to keep your trap shut about. I wouldn't trust you with this but I have to." Then he said specifically, "You tell no one, especially not your father." Before Draco could even ask what the other boy was talking about, Harry began speaking to Hedwig in Parseltongue. He explained what they needed and what he wanted the coatl to do to help. Looking back to Draco, Harry said, "Point out the key to Hedwig; she's going to help you get it."
The blonde opened and closed his mouth several times as he tried to find his voice. Suddenly he found it as he began to gush. "I knew it! I knew I saw you talking to her in the dorms one day. You're a Parselmouth!"
Patiently, Harry reminded him, "The key, Draco."
"Oh... right." Draco took Hedwig from Harry and pointed out the proper key. He traced its course with his finger until the serpent touched his cheek with her tongue and leapt into the air. Quickly mounting his broom, the two were soon weaving in and out of the feathered cloud until Draco swooped down holding a struggling blue key. Shoving it into the lock, he turned it and opened the door.
Stepping through, they came to another large square room filled with broken statues. They started across, expecting some other test but nothing happened until they'd made it halfway That was when they found the still form of Ron Weasley.
Hearing Draco gasp, Harry asked, "What's wrong?"
"It's Weasel," said the blonde breathlessly. "I think he's dead."
"Take me to him."
Touching Ron, Harry's senses focused on the boy alone and were unimpaired by the wards around them. "He's not dead but he's really badly hurt. It looks like he got hit in the head really hard at least twice and he's broken his arm. Look, you can see how it's bent all odd." Grimacing with anger, he growled. "They shouldn't have left him. If he stays like this too long, he'll never wake up."
"You can't heal him Harry," said Draco suddenly.
"What are you talking about? Of course I can."
"No," the blonde explained. "What I mean is that if you do, you'll be too weak to help the others. We'll just have to come back for him."
"You don't understand," Harry moaned. "His brain is swelling. I've got to."
"Well...then we'll do it like we did the troll on Halloween. Use part of my magic. Just remember, only fix his head. We can't be too weak when we get to the end."
Nodding absently, Harry put Draco sitting on his heels in front of him and had the boy lay his hand on Ron's forehead. Then, taking his own hand and laying it on top of the blonde's, he knelt directly behind him and wrapped his left arm over Draco's shoulder so his hand rested above his heart. "You know this may not even work. On Halloween I just boosted the power of your spell."
"Well let's just try and hurry up then; I feel like a poof, you all close like this."
Biting his lip not to snicker, Harry calmed his mind like Sal had taught him and felt for his magic. He found it, a shining star of energy at the centre of his being. Then, reaching out with his magic, he searched out Draco's centre. The other boy's core was a kaleidoscope of colours, beautiful to behold. Reaching out, he touched the star and merged with it. Harry felt the other boy's magic mingle with his, and he was also unexpectedly seeing flashes of Draco's home life.
He was seeing through Draco's eyes as he ate dinner with his parents. They were in a large dining room with his father at one end of the table while Draco sat with his mother at the other. They were silent for the most part, save for when Narcissa would correct him on his table manners. Next he was practising spells with his tutor while his father looked on. He'd just cast a successful 'incendio' when he grinned at his father, only to dissolve into panic moments later as the fire at the end of his wand went out of control. Harry felt his (Draco's) heart drop at the utter look of disappointment on his father's face as he turned away.
Forcibly separating himself from the other boy's memories, he manipulated their magic down their arms and began to heal Ron's head injury. They were at it for several minutes until Ron began to rouse and Harry pulled back, breaking the link with Draco. Harry did feel a bit weak, but not as if he'd pass out.
"Merlin!" groaned the blonde. "If I never see a fire again, I'll be happy!"
Hardly paying attention, Harry rubbed his hand over Ron's forehead and asked softly, "Weasley...Ron...can you hear me?"
Grimacing, Ron answered, "Yeah...my head...my arm."
"You're hurt, but I have to go check on the others before I try to heal you any more. Will you be alright?" With a nod from the redhead, Harry stood up and helped Draco to his feet. "I'm sending Hedwig to go get Professor Snape. Things are getting too serious."
Getting no argument from the blonde, Harry whispered to the coatl "Hedwig, remember when you took me to the forest?"
"Yes, my master," the serpent replied. "I took you to where you would be safe."
"Right. The thing is, I need you to bring Professor Snape here. He's gone home to see Aunt Petunia and Dudley."
"The dark one is...bigger than you are, and much farther away. It will be...difficult, but I will try." Nuzzling Harry's cheek one last time, Hedwig leapt into the air and soon vanished altogether.
Checking Ron one last time, Harry turned with Draco and the two of them went to the door leading further in. Hand on the knob, Harry grinned in the other boy's direction as another memory/feeling surfaced from his bond with Draco. "So you think she's cute?"
Entering the next room, their noses were immediately assaulted with a horrid but familiar odour.
"Troll?" Harry asked in disgust?
"Yeah," Draco answered. "It's even bigger than the one from Halloween! Looks like somebody knocked him out though." He kicked the fallen monster lightly with one toe. "Pity. I had so much fun the last time, I'd of liked another go."
Just then the troll let out a muffled grunt and Draco squeaked in terror. Grabbing Harry, he physically pulled him through another door and into a long corridor. Coming at last to yet another door, Draco and Harry braced themselves and opened it.
The first thing Harry heard when the door opened was a startled gasp and the tinkling of a glass vial shattering on the floor. The room seemed unnaturally hot but he didn't hear the roar of any flames.
"Hermione," he answered shortly. "Where's Neville?"
"He's... he's gone ahead. I was supposed to wait five minutes and if he didn't come back I was to go get help." The girl's voice sounded almost hurt at Harry's tone, but at the moment he obviously didn't care. "Listen, Harry, you know we only did what we did to keep you safe."
"Drop it," Harry fairly growled. "How long has he been gone?"
"It was just five minutes when you came in."
Speaking to Draco, Harry said, "Why don't you take her back to Ron and wait for the professor. I'll stay here and wait for Neville to come back." Harry could sense that the other boy wanted absolutely nothing do with leaving but Harry reassured him. "It's fine; I can't get to the next room. The other door won't open from this side and I'm not stupid enough to try and go alone anyway."
Harry followed them out the door, closed it for a moment, and then went back in. As he went to the middle of the room the door closed on its own, and fire sprang up at each end. Harry flinched at the sound. He was used to hearing a sound much like this in his nightmares. Then he felt over the table until he found the parchment with the riddle.
Grinning at the cleverness of it, he felt the newly refilled vials several times before picking up the small bottle off the left end. Getting as close to the black flames as possible, he downed the potion in one go. An icy feeling spread through his limbs and he grinned as the heat of the room could no longer be felt. He walked through the black flames and grasped the door handle, whispering to himself, "Here I come," before walking though.
On the other side, he felt the pressure of magic from the wards easing to a tolerable level and he opened his mind's eye. Before him he saw Professor Quirrell, as he had expected. He saw Neville as well, limp and held by the neck at the end of Quirrell's arm as he was squeezing the life out of him.