A Life of Songs and Roses
- Story Summary:
- A long-forgotten charm is activated, sending a Hogwarts student into an enchanted sleep. Will anyone be able to wake him? Slash.
- Author's Note:
- Thanks again to Peter Murray for beta-reading (even though he doesn't like slash) and Brit-picking.
Once upon a time there was a wealthy wizard. He had a magnificent mansion and a beautiful wife, and in due course they had a beautiful baby boy. As was the custom, when the baby boy was only a few weeks old, they held a naming ceremony for him, to which they invited all their friends and associates.
Everyone who received an invitation attended, for parties at the magnificent mansion were rare events, and it was considered a great honour to be invited. Those who were not invited told themselves they were delighted not to have to find a gift to present to the baby. It would never do to arrive at a naming ceremony without a gift, and to present an inferior gift was to risk not being invited to any future social events at the mansion -- or worse.
The baby boy was presented to the assembled guests, and slept contentedly in his bassinet as they stepped forward, one at a time, to congratulate his parents and present their gifts. His mother accepted the gifts graciously, expressing delight as the guests presented charmed music boxes and self-reading storybooks or waved their wands over the baby as they pronounced charms to ensure that he would have unflawed skin and perfect teeth. His father accepted the congratulations with the pride of a brand-new parent.
By the time the last guest approached the little family at the end of the great drawing-room, everyone was more than ready to proceed to the next stage of the proceedings: the fabulous luncheon buffet that house-elves had been arranging in the dining room. Most of the guests had drifted toward the doorway in anticipation, so there were very few near enough to hear as the wizard's great-aunt pronounced her gift with a flourish of her wand over the bassinet. When she stepped away, the wizard and his wife turned the baby over to his nurse without a qualm, and led their guests into the dining room.
Time passed, and the baby boy grew up, as baby boys will do. In time he received a letter inviting him to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He was nearing the end of his fifth year there when he entered the Great Hall for breakfast one morning and fell to the floor in what was clearly an enchanted sleep.
He was taken to the hospital wing, where Madam Pomfrey tried everything she could think of to awaken him, but after two days she had to admit defeat. She stood with the headmaster beside the bed of the still-sleeping boy and sighed.
"I've done everything I can, Headmaster. He doesn't even stir. It's got to be some sort of enchantment, but it's not one I've encountered in all my years here."
"I'm sure you've done your best, Poppy. I've asked Severus to join us, in hopes that he'll know a potion that might rouse the boy."
Potions Master Severus Snape arrived moments later, looking even greasier than usual. It was clear from his expression that he had no cure to offer. "If Poppy can't deal with it, I can't either; she's tried all the options I came up with. It looks to me as though it must be a curse that can only be removed by the caster. Or something even worse, perhaps: a family curse. They are a very old family; it's not impossible that some sort of blood-related curse is operating here."
"I have already sent an owl to his parents," said Albus Dumbledore. "His mother has replied; her husband is away on business and cannot be reached, but she will be here in the morning."
"Then let us hope she knows something we do not," said Madam Pomfrey. "Meanwhile, go off to bed; it's too late to think further about this tonight." And she shooed them away from the bed where Draco Malfoy lay sleeping.
Narcissa Malfoy, tall, blonde and perfectly dressed, arrived the next morning after breakfast. Draco had been sleeping for two full days and showed no more sign of waking than he had when he had first been tucked into his bed in the hospital wing. Dumbledore and Pomfrey told her what had been tried, and what Snape had suggested about family curses.
"There is nothing like that in my family," said Narcissa with certainty. "And I think Lucius would have mentioned it if there was anything in his. Most of his relatives seemed reasonably -- oh!"
"Then there is something?" pressed Dumbledore when she did not continue.
"Not a family curse, exactly, but -- Lucius had a great-aunt who was decidedly unusual, even for a Malfoy. She turned up at Draco's naming ceremony with a charm for a gift -- at least, I assumed it was a charm. We'd sat through so many by then I wasn't paying as much attention as I should have been, I'm afraid, but I remember it was a delayed effect charm -- something that would happen when he came of age. Which was two days ago. What time did you say he collapsed?"
"It was at breakfast; I'm afraid no one noted the exact time, but it would have been somewhere between eight and nine in the morning," said Dumbledore.
"Closer to eight," said Madam Pomfrey. "He was settled in here by nine."
"That must be it, then. He was born just after eight."
"Well then, all we need to do is contact this aunt and find out what she did." Madam Pomfrey looked pleased.
"If only we could. She died eight years ago." Narcissa sat down on the edge of Draco's bed and stroked her son's limp hand.
"Perhaps Draco's father would remember something?"
"Perhaps he would. I hope we don't have to wait until we can ask him; when he left a week ago, he was not sure how long he would be away, and I have no way to reach him where he is. The last trip he took like this lasted a month and a half."
"Then we will have to find another way to get the information." Dumbledore considered. "Have you ever been hypnotized?"
She hadn't. He tried. She was as cooperative as she could be, but after an hour they gave it up; clearly she was among the twenty percent of witches who were not susceptible to hypnosis.
They spent the rest of the morning, and all of the afternoon, trying everything they could think of to enable Narcissa to access the memory of the naming ceremony. She remembered numerous guests and various gifts, but the charm in question refused to surface. At last Dumbledore gave up and left her to dine alone by Draco's bed while he took his place in the Great Hall.
After dinner he returned to the hospital wing with Snape in tow. "I had one more idea during dinner, Narcissa," he explained. "It will need some assistance from Severus."
When the potions master heard what he wanted he was aghast. "It'll kill her!"
"Nonsense. It can be administered safely."
"Oh yes? That would be why they call it the Draught of Final Recall, then?" Snape looked at Narcissa, who had resumed her seat on the edge of Draco's bed and was once more stroking his hand, looking completely unafraid. "It's not safe. If it doesn't kill her, it'll almost certainly leave her insane -- and there's a good chance you won't get the memory you want before you lose her."
"I think we can make it safer. Reduce the dosage considerably; it's not as if she's a spy and we have to get everything she knows from her, we're just looking for this one recollection. At one-quarter strength it should just enhance her ability to search her memory."
"And if it doesn't? I've never read of anyone using it on someone they wanted to have survive the experience, at any strength."
"It's my choice, isn't it?" said Narcissa suddenly. "This is my son, and this is my only chance -- if I don't try this, he'll lie here asleep the rest of his life!"
"But Lucius -- surely when he comes back he might recall the charm used? Better to wait a few weeks than risk your life --"
"He is off risking his life right now, and for all I know he will not return at all. I doubt he recalls anything of the naming ceremony after all this time. I will not watch my son sleep for weeks or months on that faint hope, when I can try something to help him immediately."
Snape and Dumbledore exchanged a long look. Finally Snape turned to Narcissa and said, "I will make the draught. It will not be ready until mid-morning tomorrow; if you still wish to take it then, I will bring it to you here." He shifted his gaze back to Dumbledore. "At ten percent strength, no more." His robes swirled about him as he left the room.
"This way, my dear." Dumbledore offered his arm to Narcissa. "There is a guest chamber ready for you. We will talk again in the morning."
"You still wish --"
"Yes, I still wish. I know the risk, I'm doing this of my own free will, no one will hold you responsible for any negative consequences." Narcissa held up a folded sheet of parchment, sealed with black wax. "To be opened in the event that I am not capable of destroying it after we're done here." She set it on the desk beside her. "Now, can we get on with this? Severus?"
Snape held out a small vial. "The Draught of Final Recall, diluted to ten percent strength, as promised. I suggest you sit down before you drink it."
As Narcissa seated herself in the guest chamber's most comfortable chair, the door opened and Madam Pomfrey came in. "Ah, Poppy, right on time."
"I don't see why you want me here, Headmaster. If that stuff is going to harm her, I'm not likely to be of any help."
"I do not want to take any chances. If something happens to harm her, you may be able to assist. If nothing does, at least you will be another pair of ears to hear whatever recollection the potion brings." Dumbledore took the vial from Snape and handed it to Narcissa.
"The whole thing?" she asked, fingers on the stopper.
"Yes, all of it. It should taste pleasant enough, if the scent is anything to go by," said Snape.
Narcissa removed the stopper. The pale green potion smelled of strawberries. She lifted it to her lips and drank it down quickly, noticing with surprise that it tasted like peanuts. "How long until it takes effect?" she asked, setting the vial on the table next to her chair.
"At full strength, the effect is immediate," replied Snape. "Diluted, I cannot say with certainty."
"You feel no different? Can you remember anything more about Draco's great-aunt's naming gift now?" Dumbledore prompted.
Narcissa closed her eyes. A moment passed when it seemed that none of them breathed, and then she began to speak. "Great-aunt Eulalia! I never thought she'd come! What ghastly robes, such a hideous shade of yellow. I wonder what she's brought? Oh, another charm; well, that's probably better than whatever family relic she might have dug out of her attic. What will this one be? True Love? You can't charm -- what? Fall asleep the moment he's in the same room with his True Love, and of age? What's the use of that?! Speak up, you silly woman, I can't hear what you're going on about. A kiss from his True Love for a life of songs and roses? She's mad, utterly mad. Thank Merlin, she's putting her wand away. Is that all? Can we finally get on with the luncheon? Oh, here comes Nurse to take him away, thank --"
"Narcissa!" Dumbledore said sharply, putting a hand on her wrist. She seemed not to notice, continuing with an account of the luncheon that consisted mainly of remarks about the clothing and jewels worn by the various guests, and gossip that made little sense to her listeners.
"Will a sleeping draught mix badly with that potion, Severus?" asked Madam Pomfrey when it became clear that Narcissa's monologue was not going to stop any time soon.
"I don't think so, but I'm not sure we should risk it. Continuing the memory stream is unlikely to harm her, after all. I arranged to have my classes covered for the whole day, so I am available to stay with her until it wears off, or until she falls asleep naturally. I suspect she did not rest much last night, so it might not take long."
"If we put her in bed and draw the curtains, we should be able to discuss what she has remembered without being too distracted by the ongoing stream of recollections," suggested Dumbledore.
Narcissa babbled on as Madam Pomfrey settled her on the bed and drew a light blanket over her before closing the curtains. When the matron rejoined the others in the seating area she found that she could still hear her voice, but not make out the words.
"Well, young Draco's treatment seems clear enough from that," said Dumbledore brightly as she resumed her seat.
"A kiss from his True Love? Really, Headmaster, you can't believe all that nonsense? Obviously this great-aunt's charm isn't the problem at all, and we're no better off than we were before Narcissa arrived." Snape glared. "And to think I wasted a whole night on that potion!"
"If nothing else, Severus, we have established that a ten percent solution of that stuff does, indeed, enhance recall."
"You were fortunate in your question -- imagine what we would have had to sit through if you had asked what she remembered of the naming ceremony! And, until she stops babbling, we haven't established that it does what it does without turning the drinker into a blithering idiot permanently."
"It will wear off, I'm sure. Now, back to that charm. It's certainly worth considering. If what we heard was correct, Draco's True Love was in the Great Hall the morning he collapsed. All we need do is have each of the candidates kiss him. If no one wakes him, Severus, we may consider ourselves back where we were, but we might as well attempt this -- it is not as though we had a long list of other things to try."
Professor Dumbledore had made some odd announcements at meals in the Great Hall over the years, but this was certainly one of the oddest requests. "As some of you know, Mr Draco Malfoy collapsed here in the Hall three days ago," he began. "He remains in an enchanted sleep in the hospital wing. I am here to ask you students, or rather, you witches, to attempt to assist in his recovery." He paused as a murmuring broke out among the students and was quickly stilled. "If each of the female students could visit the hospital wing at some time this afternoon, in a free period if you have one, or after classes, it would be most appreciated. It will take only a moment of your time. Thank you for your attention; you may now return to your lunch."
There was quite a queue of witches outside the hospital wing after classes. Hermione Granger, arriving after her Arithmancy class, found her dorm mates, Parvati Patil and Lavender Brown, just ahead of her in line. Lavender greeted her happily.
"Oh, Hermione, isn't it romantic?"
"Romantic? Isn't what romantic?"
"The whole thing! Draco lying in there waiting for a kiss from his True Love to wake him up! All of us out here waiting to see if we're the one who can wake him!"
"Wait a minute. A kiss from his True Love? They got us up here to kiss Draco Malfoy?"
"Isn't that what I said?"
"But -- but -- kiss Malfoy?"
"Oh really, Hermione, you've got to get over that whole Slytherin thing. Draco Malfoy is one of the most eligible wizards in the country! The Malfoys are incredibly rich, they have that huge mansion -- and Draco's the sole heir!"
"None of which stops him from being a slimy Slytherin snake," said Hermione. The line moved forward as Pansy Parkinson was escorted out of the room by Professor McGonagall. "I just remembered, I'm supposed to be somewhere else right now." And Hermione hurried away from the waiting girls.
Narcissa Malfoy had finally fallen into a deep sleep just before dinner. She woke the next morning feeling fine, and hurried to the hospital wing to see her son.
"He's still asleep," said Madam Pomfrey as she arrived. "How are you feeling?"
"Fine. But I don't remember anything after I drank the potion yesterday. Did it work, or have I been asleep all this time?"
"Oh, it worked. You remembered every minute of the naming ceremony, by the sound of it. After you told us about Draco's great-aunt Eulalia and her charm, you kept going and going with all the details of the luncheon and the guests and everything."
"So I did remember the charm? But it hasn't helped?"
"Not yet, but we haven't run out of people to try." She told Narcissa what she had said about the charm, and how they were having all the girls in the school kiss Draco. "Most of them came by yesterday, but there are thirty or so who didn't. Professor McGonagall will be bringing them up after breakfast. Have you eaten?"
Narcissa had not. Madam Pomfrey sent for a meal for her. "I'm sure you'll want to stay with Draco while the rest of the girls try to wake him."
Professor McGonagall brought the girls who had not yet kissed Draco in a group after breakfast. "Form a line outside the room," she instructed them. Half a dozen girls immediately made a line at the door; the rest remained in a cluster. Once the girls who had lined up had tried (and failed) to wake Draco, McGonagall was left staring at a group of girls, each of whom was trying not to be closest to the door.
"Come now, we don't want anyone missing lessons over this; the sooner we get it done, the better off we all are." No one moved to take the next turn. McGonagall sighed.
"Very well, then, we will proceed alphabetically. Jessica Barclay?"
Jessica, a tiny Hufflepuff first-year, stepped forward slowly. "Do I have to, Professor? I never kissed anybody before. I'm not sure I can."
"I know you can, Jessica. Don't worry. Go on in, now."
Jessica shuffled into the room slowly, and came rushing out a moment later, looking very relieved. McGonagall consulted her clipboard and sent Nadine Davidson after her. A few girls later, she called, "Hermione Granger."
Hermione did not move from her position against the wall. "Please, Professor, can I be last?"
"Miss Granger, I am well aware that you and Mr Malfoy are not friends. But as a Gryffindor Prefect, I expect you to set an example, and you can hardly set it by hanging back while little first- and second-years go before you." She held up her hand as Hermione opened her mouth to protest. "Go," she said sternly.
Hermione gave in. She walked briskly into the room, touched her lips to Draco's, and walked out again, scrubbing at her mouth with her handkerchief.
There were no further protests, and soon Professor McGonagall was standing beside Draco's bed, frowning at her clipboard. "He's shown no sign of waking at all?"
"None," said Madam Pomfrey.
"We must have missed someone," said Narcissa.
"Every girl on this list has been here," McGonagall insisted.
"And every girl that's been here has kissed him, however briefly," said Pomfrey.
"Then we were wrong." Narcissa frowned. "It's something else, not the charm at all."
"Or we were wrong somewhere else," said McGonagall slowly. "What if it's not a student? There are other females here." She leaned down suddenly and kissed Draco herself, straightening up with a relieved look as he did not stir. "Poppy?"
Madam Pomfrey repeated the action, with similar results. "You'll arrange for the female staff to visit, then?"
"As soon as possible. You should see all of them by the end of lunch." McGonagall left, turning to a fresh page on her clipboard before she was even out of the room.
"Albus, we've tried all the female students and staff. We've confirmed that there were no visitors in the hall that morning. The house-elves are all that's left!"
Hermione Granger, visiting the house-elves in the great kitchen, looked up with surprise as the Headmaster and his Deputy entered. The house-elves stopped working to listen to what the headmaster had to say.
"I am sorry to disrupt your work," he began, "but we have need of an unusual kind of assistance from some of you. A student has fallen into a charmed sleep, and it is thought that a kiss will wake him. All the female students and staff have tried and failed, and now we are asking --"
"Professor Dumbledore, wait!"
"Miss Granger? What are you doing in the kitchen? The house-elves are perfectly happy --" Professor McGonagall broke off as Hermione spoke again.
"They may be happy now, but if you make them kiss Malfoy they won't be. Besides, how can a house-elf be his True Love?"
"But there's no one else! We've tried the whole school!" McGonagall protested.
"No, you've tried half the school." When they did not appear to understand her, she continued, "You've only tried the girls. What if Malfoy's True Love isn't a girl? There have been rumours for years about him -- what if they're right?"
"You mean -- try the boys?"
"Ten points to Gryffindor, Miss Granger," said Dumbledore approvingly, "for looking beyond the obvious. Minerva, we will try the boys. Come along, both of you, leave the house-elves to finish preparing dinner."
Harry rested one hand on the bed beside Draco's shoulder, hesitated for an instant longer, then leaned down to touch his lips to Draco's.
The effect was immediate. The room was filled with the sound of violins and the scent of roses. The sunlight coming in through the windows seemed brighter. And Draco's lips, which had lain impassive under the kisses of every witch in the school, responded to Harry's as he brought one arm up to curl around Harry's neck, holding him close for a long, enthusiastic kiss.
Eventually Harry drew back slightly, breathing hard but keeping his eyes fixed on Draco's, which now fluttered open for the first time in more than four days. "Potter?" said Draco, and the one word was full of questions -- and entirely lacking in rancour.
"Hang on a sec," murmured Harry. He turned his head to speak to Dumbledore and the others. "Mission accomplished -- he's awake. Now would you all leave us alone for a bit, while I explain all this to Draco?"
"But --" said Hermione.
"Later, Miss Granger. There will be plenty of time for all your questions later." And Dumbledore held the door open for Hermione, Narcissa, Madam Pomfrey and Professor McGonagall, and winked at Harry and Draco as he followed McGonagall out, closing it firmly behind himself.
Harry turned back to Draco. "Where should I start?"
"Here," said Draco firmly, and drew him down for another kiss. The violins grew louder, and the scent of roses grew stronger, and when they broke apart again neither was terribly surprised to see dozens of tiny violins and hundreds of rose petals, red and white and every shade of pink, floating in the air around them.
"Now then," said Draco, sitting up against his pillows at the head of the bed as Harry straightened up and settled on the side of the bed, "what's going on? Why did I wake up in the hospital wing with you kissing me -- in front of an audience, yet -- and why am I not throwing a fit about it?"
"Ah, well, it's a longish story," said Harry, carefully moving a violin that had drifted right in front of his nose. "The short version is, I'm your True Love."
Draco blinked at him. "I think I'm going to need the long version, Potter."
So Harry told him the whole story, from his collapse at breakfast through the arrival of his mother, the recollection of the naming day gift, and the girls lining up to kiss him.
"What, all of them?"
"Every last one. From the tiniest Hufflepuff to the brainiest Ravenclaw."
"Even Pansy? Eww, she's been trying to kiss me for years. Yuck."
"I hear she was devastated when she didn't wake you up. Had to be pulled off by McGonagall and Madam Pomfrey."
"It gets worse. When the students couldn't wake you, they went on through all the female staff. They were about to start on the female house-elves when Hermione suggested trying the boys instead."
"House-elves? They thought my True Love might be a house-elf?" Draco was outraged.
Harry laughed. "They were desperate. Fortunately, Hermione, champion of house-elf rights, saved you -- although I think she was doing it more for the house-elves."
"Whatever the motivation, I owe her. Do you think she'd like one of these cute little violins?" He plucked one out of the air and set it on the palm of his hand, where it continued playing its syrupy tune. When he lowered his hand, the violin resumed floating as though it had never stopped.
"I hope they aren't going to follow us around forever," said Harry, looking around at all the violins. "Can you imagine Snape, if our Potions class is suddenly conducted to the sound of tiny violins?"
"Maybe they only appear when we're alone," suggested Draco. "I suppose I'd better not try to give one away, anyhow. So, how many of the boys had trooped past my bed before you came along, anyway?"
"There was... rather a lot of resistance from the boys, really. Even Seamus wasn't keen, and everyone knows he's kissed half the boys in Hogwarts, willing or otherwise. People were arguing over how to decide what order to go in -- you'd be sleeping through next week if they'd kept it up."
"So famous Harry Potter, saviour of the wizarding world, took matters into his own hands?"
"Well, someone had to do something. I figured I could set an example."
"And look what you did instead. You'll have a new title for this: The Boy Who Saved the Other Boys from Kissing Draco Malfoy."
"Bit wordy, that one. The Boy Who was Draco Malfoy's True Love seems likelier."
"True Love. Well, the violins seem to support it, not to mention the great kissing, and of course the waking up, but if I had to have a True Love, why'd it have to be my arch-enemy?"
"Your mother wasn't entirely clear on the wording of the 'gift'. Maybe that was part of it?"
"Who did you say it was from again?"
"A great-aunt. I don't remember her name, but I think she's dead now, so it's not like we can ask her about it." Harry pushed another violin which had drifted too close towards Draco. "Anyway, I think it's safe to say we're not going to be doing the arch-enemy thing anymore."
"Apparently not." Draco pushed the violin back towards Harry. "You're not any more shocked by this than I am, are you?"
"No. It's very strange -- there's this little corner of my mind that thinks I should be absolutely freaking out, but all I want to do is stay here with you and enjoy the violins -- and I don't even particularly like violins."
"They're playing our song, whatever it is -- you have to like them. And they're such cute little things."
"And we can play ping-pong with them," laughed Harry, pushing the violin away again.
"So, what do we do now?"
"Well, for starters, we'd better go out and face the crowd pretty soon, or they'll be breaking down the door. Your mother must be dying to see you."
"My mother!" Draco leapt out of bed, causing half a dozen violins to zip out of his way. "Come on, Harry, let's go!" He grabbed Harry's hand to pull him to his feet, and kept hold of it as they headed for the door. The violins and rose petals became translucent, then faded from sight completely as Draco opened the door, but the music and the scent of roses accompanied them as they stepped through it, together.
Over the next little while, the violins and roses settled down. By the end of a week, only Harry and Draco noticed the music and the perfume. By the end of two weeks, they only noticed them when they were alone together. Kissing still caused the violins and rose petals to manifest, an effect which showed no signs of diminishing, but neither really minded, especially as it only happened when they were alone. They tried kissing with Hermione in the room so she could see the violins, but only got the music, not the music-makers.
"Sorry, Herm, they seem to be shy."
"That's okay. Thanks for trying."
"You'll just have to find a True Love of your own, Granger, and get your own violins."
"I don't think they're standard issue," said Hermione. "Nothing in the library mentions them, anyway. They must be an effect of your charm."
"Yes, we are charming, aren't we?" smirked Draco. She flung a cushion at him, but he caught it easily. "You know, you're the only person who's thrown anything over this. How come everyone's being so accepting?"
"It's True Love. What's the point in not accepting it? I think all the girls are still swooning over how romantic it all is. And the boys," she grinned, "are just delighted to have the two most eligible boys in our year taken out of the dating pool."
"All the girls except Pansy, you mean," said Harry.
Draco shook his head. "Haven't you noticed? She's pretending she was never interested in me at all. She's chasing after Blaise now."
"Oh, poor Blaise."
"Don't worry about Blaise, Harry. He's not suffering. Any day now he'll let Pansy catch him." Hermione gathered up her things. "It's getting late; I've got to go finish my homework." She slipped out of the room, closing the door behind her.
"She means she's got to go meet Weasley," said Draco.
"It's about time those two got together." Harry picked up his quill and reached for his Transfiguration homework.
"Yes, they've been working up to it for years. If we hadn't set them an example they'd still be pining for each other." Draco grinned. "Shall we have some music while we finish our homework?" He leaned over to kiss Harry, who met him halfway, and soon the Charms classroom was filled with violins and rose petals.
And they lived happily ever after.