Draco Malfoy Harry Potter
Action Romance
Multiple Eras
Published: 05/29/2003
Updated: 07/18/2003
Words: 95,194
Chapters: 14
Hits: 106,924

Thicker than Blood


Story Summary:
It is Harry's sixth year at Hogwarts, and Voldemort has returned to full power. The Death Eaters lay siege to the castle, trapping everyone inside. Draco is injured, Harry gets roped into saving his life, Crabbe shows unexpected resourcefulness, Dumbledore gets his way (as usual), and life is complicated for Harry. But then, life is always complicated for Harry, and adolescence only makes it worse.

Chapter 02


Chapter 2: For Hate's Sake

Hermione sat on the cold stone floor, her back to an equally cold stone wall, sipping a cup of Pepper-up Potion and wishing she had simple hot chocolate instead. She was already chilled and miserable and did not want to be forcibly awake into the bargain, but Professors Flitwick and McGonagall were circulating through the room, handing out steaming cups to all the students and bullying them into drinking the potion. Hermione was too used to obeying Professor McGonagall to balk now. She took another swig of the hot drink, noted absently that it drove the aching cold from her legs, and gazed around the crowded dungeon curiously.

Hermione did not ever remember seeing this chamber before, which came as no surprise, considering how carefully she avoided the Hogwarts dungeons as a rule. It was a huge single room, easily as big as the Great Hall, with a vaulted ceiling held up by clumsy stone buttresses that stuck out from the walls. Students huddled in groups between the square pillars, divided by House, by age, and by attitude as much as by the layout of the room. Huge fires burned on the hearths at either end of the chamber, and iron braziers that looked very medieval in this setting were dotted about the floor, filled with glowing coals. Sleeping bags lay in rows, like lumpy purple cocoons, from wall to wall, with knots of students collected around the braziers in every open space. Teachers prowled among them, carrying lit wands, stopping to gaze intently in the faces of those students who were still awake.

Looking for what? Hermione wondered. For signs of shock, of illness, of injury? Or maybe of treachery.

Her eyes strayed toward a knot of Slytherins gathered around a brazier nearby. If the Headmaster wanted to find possible sources of trouble, he would do well to start with them. She would be willing to bet her allowance for the term that they were hatching some nasty plot to lead the Death Eaters into Hogwarts. Or at the very least, to poison the Pepper-up Potion and put everyone in the hospital wing. It was a good thing that Malfoy was out of commission...

Her mind sheered abruptly away from that thought, and her eyes moved to another group of students in a vin attempt to shut out all awareness of the Slytherins.

Let them plot, she thought, sourly. Draco was clearly the brains of the outfit, and without him, they couldn't do any real harm. Crabbe and Goyle, Pansy Parkinson, Millicent Bulstrode, a pair of hulking bruisers from this year's Quidditch team whose names she could never remember because their personalities had been removed at birth. They didn't have more than a teaspoonful of grey matter between them. Without Malfoy, they were lucky to find the door to their own dungeon.

Malfoy again. Why was she thinking about Malfoy, with all the other terrible things she had to worry about tonight? Maybe because Malfoy was in Snape's office with Harry, and Dumbledore was planning some dark and secret piece of magic that would make Harry feel even more responsible for Malfoy's fate than he already did. Or maybe because his ghastly face and bloodstained lips were stuck in her mind, haunting her, like a scene from a bad horror movie. Draco Malfoy, King of the Undead.

She shuddered and pulled her cloak more tightly about her shoulders.

Am I afraid it's true and Malfoy has been turned into Voldemort's apprentice zombie? she wondered. Or am I just afraid of what Dumbledore is doing to Harry and Draco right now? Do I want Malfoy to suffer for what his father has done? Do I want him to suffer for what he's done? Or do I just want someone to help him, before it's too late?

Someone, but not Harry, she decided. Not Harry. If Snape's test had shown that she was the best match for Malfoy's blood, she would have gone without a murmur and done whatever Dumbledore asked. But Harry had been through enough - more than enough - and he shouldn't be asked to risk his life or his sanity or whatever else they were planning to take from him for the likes of Draco Malfoy. It simply wasn't fair.

The big, iron-bound door swung open, and Dumbledore walked into the dungeon. The age and weariness in his face were a blunt reminder of the horrors they had all suffered tonight, but he was smiling as he moved among the students and his step was light. Hermione gazed at him for a long moment, turning over her concerns about Harry and Malfoy in her mind, trying to muster her courage to approach him. Then she saw him head for the Slytherins, and she jumped to her feet as if her legs were spring-loaded. Not only did she want the full truth from Dumbledore; she wanted to hear what that pack of blast-ended skrewts had to say for themselves.

Hermione trotted up to the group just in time to hear Pansy Parkinson demand, in her most shrill and grating voice, "We have the right to owl our parents, Headmaster! You can't keep us shut up in here, if we don't want to stay!"

"Quite right, Miss Parkinson," Dumbledore answered, still smiling. "You may send your parents an owl just as soon as it is safe to enter the upper castle."

"When will that be?"

His eyes twinkled disconcertingly at the sullen girl. "I couldn't say."

"What if we want to go home?" she asked.

"Then you may go home. With your parents' permission, of course."

"My dad's right outs..." An elbow to Goyle's ribs choked off his words, and Millicent hissed something in his ear that made him turn a dull shade of red.

Dumbledore was no longer smiling. "I cannot allow any of you to go onto the grounds until I have word from your families that they want to remove you from Hogwarts, and that they are... waiting for you. When I have such assurances, any student who wishes to leave the grounds may do so." He paused, then added firmly, "And any student who wishes to stay will have the full protection of the school and staff."

Hermione bit her lip and stared hard at the faces of the Slytherins. They were all looking at Dumbledore resentfully, except for Crabbe, who was shuffling his feet and gazing stupidly at nothing. Hermione couldn't tell whether he wanted to stay at Hogwarts with Dumbledore and was afraid to say so, or whether he simply didn't understand the conversation.

"What about Draco?" Pansy pursued, doggedly. "Will you send him home with us?"

"That is up to Mr. Malfoy."

"Where is he? Why can't we see him? One of the Prefects said he was..."

"Miss Parkinson, I would suggest that you get some sleep. It has been a very long night for all of us, and if you are indeed to go home soon, you will want to be rested and cheerful when you meet your parents. We can't have them thinking we don't take good care of you."

Pansy's pug-like face twisted with anger and, to Hermione's amazement, she burst into tears. "When Draco's father gets here, he'll make you sorry!"

"Sleep well, Miss Parkinson."

Dumbledore turned so abruptly that he nearly ran Hermione down. She hopped backward to avoid treading on the hem of his robe and lifted her head to gaze up at him, her chin set with determination. Unlike Pansy, she had no intention of crying, but neither did she intend to let Dumbledore put her off again.

"Miss Granger," he said, mildly, "can I do something for you?"

"Yes." She turned and fell into step beside him, grateful to be headed away from the Slytherins and the air of sullen, brooding malice that hung about them. "You can tell me the truth about Harry."

"Harry is fine." The half-smile he turned on her seemed to chide her for her lack of faith. "Do you suspect me of having sinister plans for him, Hermione?"

"I- I know you're planning something," she spluttered.

"I am planning to bring as many of my students through this crisis alive as I possibly can."

"Including Malfoy?"

"Including Mr. Malfoy."

"But what does Harry have to do with it?"

Dumbledore halted and turned to face her. Hermione abruptly realized that he had led her toward the door where a wide patch of empty floor gave them a modicum of privacy. His eyes were kind but grave, and the twinkle was completely gone from them.

"I told you once before that I cannot discuss this with you."

"But you have to!" she blurted out, then she blushed furiously. In a small, pleading voice she went on, "He'll only tell me later, anyway. And I helped him find Draco to begin with, so I'm as much a part of this as Harry is! Why can't I do whatever it is you need to save Draco?"

"Is it Mr. Malfoy you want to help or Mr. Potter?"

Her blush deepened. "It's Harry."

"I will do nothing to put Harry at risk. You know that, Hermione."

"Any time you put him with Malfoy, you put him at risk. They hate each other!"

"Then perhaps it is time that Harry and Draco worked out their differences."

"On the night the Death Eaters attack?!" Hermione squeaked in outrage. "With Malfoy's father probably leading the charge?!"

"Mr. Malfoy's deeds are not those of his son," Dumbledore reminded her, gently, "and even had Draco assaulted the wards himself in an attempt to aide his father, I could not let him die."

"But... but..."

Hermione found herself utterly unequal to the task of explaining Harry's relationship with Malfoy to the Headmaster. She had thought that he, of all the adults at the school, would understand how great a strain it put on Harry to associate with the other boy. His feelings for Malfoy went far beyond dislike, even beyond hatred in a weird sort of way. It was as if the two boys were locked in some kind of eternal battle of wills, never free of each other, never victorious, never able to break the connection and simply walk away. Draco was Harry's own, personal Dark Mark, and when he called, Harry answered. Just like tonight.

"You are letting your imagination run away with you, Miss Granger." Hermione jumped, suddenly afraid that Dumbledore was reading her mind. "Try to get some rest, and in the morning, the world will look a deal brighter..."

"Headmaster!" Professor McGonagall shoved through the door and almost ran over to Dumbledore, paying no attention to Hermione. "Poppy needs you at once."

"Of course."

Hermione clapped her hands over her mouth to stifle a shriek and cried, "Harry!"

McGonagall looked at her, startled, and it seemed to take her a moment to recognize Hermione, so distracted was she by whatever crisis had brought her in search of Dumbledore. Finally her eyes sharpened and her mouth compressed into a tight line. "Don't be silly, Granger. Potter is fine."

The two professors headed for the door, and Hermione ran out on their heels. They were headed for Snape's office. She recognized the Potions classroom and the storage cupboard beyond it - the one where Snape kept his supply of boomslang skin - and knew that the office was only a few doors down from there. Dumbledore halted at the office door and waited for Hermione to catch up.

"What are you doing here, Granger?" McGonagall demanded.

Hermione swallowed the lump in her throat and said, defiantly, "I want to see Harry."

McGonagall made a move for her wand, but Dumbledore lifted a hand to stop her. "Perhaps it is best if Harry has one of his friends with him."

"But Albus..."

"Miss Granger, before you come into this room, you must promise me that you will say nothing of what you see or hear. Nothing of Mr. Malfoy's injuries, nothing of Harry's choices, nothing of spells or charms or magic of any kind. Do you understand?"

"Can I... can I talk to Harry about it?"

"Of course, but to no one else. Not even Ronald Weasley."

Screwing up her courage, Hermione demanded, "Why?"

"Do not ask me that. Give me your word or return to the dungeon with your classmates."

"I give you my word."

With a nod, Dumbledore pushed open the door.

Harry awoke to the low hum of voices nearby. He felt a moment of disorientation when he realized that he was not in his bed or even in the Gryffindor tower, and he could not remember what had happened. Fumbling beside the bed, he felt cold, rough stone beneath his fingers and his glasses skittered away from his reaching hand. Then he caught them and pushed them up on his nose.

Now he could see that he lay on the floor of a dungeon room - Snape's office, he gathered, from the jars of pickled specimens staring balefully down at him - and he was not alone. Another mattress lay on the floor with his, and this one was surrounded by tall figures in wizard robes. In the flickering firelight, he recognized Dumbledore, McGonagall, Snape and Madam Pomfrey. Snape moved to one side, and Harry caught a glimpse of the person lying on the other pallet. Then he remembered.

Sitting up abruptly, he called, "Professor?"

Four heads turned to stare at him, and a smaller figure in the robes of a student came scurrying out of the back corner to kneel beside his bed. It was Hermione. Her eyes were three times their normal size, and he got impression she'd been crying - or trying very hard not to.

"I'm very glad you're awake, Harry," Dumbledore said. He was crouching on the floor, one hand resting on Draco Malfoy's head while the other reached across the boy's still body to clasp his left wrist. The Headmaster's face looked strangely worn and old in the orange light.

"What's going on?" Harry asked.

"Madam Pomfrey has arranged a kind of hospital wing annex, down here in the dungeons, where all of the student who were injured in the attack can rest comfortably. We'll be moving you and Draco there in just a moment."

"Me?" Harry looked around at the faces of the teachers confronting him. They looked grim and tired and thoughtful, and he thought he detected a flash of worry in McGonagall's gimlet eye. "I feel fine. Great. I'm not even tired. I'll just go back to the big dungeon and find the other Gryffindors..."

Dumbledore rose to his feet with an ease that belied his grey beard and lined features. As he let go of Malfoy's arm, Harry got a quick look at it and felt his stomach turn over. The burns caused by the bracelet were blistered and raw, bloody in places, and Harry fancied he could catch a whiff of cooked flesh in the air.

"I would like to talk to you, Harry, alone," Dumbledore said. "Please take Mr. Malfoy to the infirmary, Severus. Miss Granger, why don't you go along to make sure Harry has a comfortable spot near the fireplace? We'll join you shortly."

Hermione looked as though she wanted to protest, but Dumbledore shot her a look from beneath his brows that sent her hurrying for the door. Snape crouched by the pallet to scoop Malfoy up in his arms, and Harry was shocked at how easily the Potions Master could lift him. Either Snape was much stronger than he looked, or Malfoy weighed almost nothing. The Slytherin boy looked more than ever like a discarded toy, lying brokenly in Snape's arms. Dumbledore held the door open for Snape and McGonagall. Madam Pomfrey stopped on the way out to mutter, "Do hurry, Headmaster," then she followed. When Dumbledore shut the door again, they were alone.

The Headmaster waved his wand at the large chair that stood behind Snape's desk. It flew over and landed with a clunk next to Harry's bed. As Dumbledore sat down in it, Harry pulled the blankets up around his shoulders, as much for protection from his fears as for warmth.

"Is this about Malfoy?" he asked.

Dumbledore smiled at him, and to Harry's dismay, it only made him look older and more drawn. "Yes, it is. You know that Mr. Malfoy is dying, don't you?" Harry nodded. "The blood you gave him helped, briefly, but there are remnants of dark spells about him that impede our efforts to heal him, and the summoning charm..."

"That silver bracelet?"

"Yes. It is very deeply rooted in his mind and body. It has grown to become a part of him, over the years that he carried it. Now it is trying to drag him back to his father, and it does not care how ill or weak he is. It will not rest until it reaches Lucius Malfoy. That charm is pulling all his strength into answering its master's call, draining him, and leaving him nothing with which to keep his own body alive."

"Is Mr. Malfoy trying to kill his son?"

"I doubt it. Most likely he has no idea that Draco is injured and cannot answer the summons."

"Why don't you just give Draco to Lucius Malfoy?" Harry asked.

"For many reasons, but the most important is that Draco has not asked to go. Until he does, I am duty bound to protect him from the Death Eaters, as I will all of the students at Hogwarts."

"You know he wants to go."

Dumbledore gave him a curious, measuring look. "Do I?"

Harry shifted uncomfortably. "What will you do? Turn off the charm?"

"I can't do that until Draco is stronger. Breaking the charm would have several consequences, some of them dire, and it would certainly endanger Draco's life. My hope is that, once he is strong enough to endure the process, we can remove it from his body without breaking it. He would not be free of its call, but it would no longer be able to hurt him the way it is now and he would be better able to resist it."

"If he wants to."

Dumbledore nodded. "If he wants to."

"You said that you couldn't heal him. That he's dying." Again, Dumbledore nodded. "How will you make him strong enough to let you remove the charm?"

"Ah. That's where you come in, Harry."

Harry felt his stomach drop through the floor. "I was afraid you were going to say that."

"Have you ever heard of a Blood Link?"

"No. Should I have?"

"I shouldn't think so. It's very advanced magic, well above sixth-year level."

"Oh, good," Harry said hollowly. "I thought I was sleeping in class again."

"You needn't be afraid, Harry. I wouldn't suggest anything that would harm you."

"I know. But you would suggest something that was hard and horrible and..." He sighed. "Just tell me what a Blood Link is, please, Professor."

"It is a tool used in times of critical need to channel power from one wizard to another. It can only be formed between wizards who have the same blood in their veins."

"So that's why you wanted my blood."

"Yes. When you gave your blood to Draco, you made it possible for us to form such a link between you, with your blood as the basis for the link and you in control of it."

Harry's head came up sharply. "I'd be in control?"

"It's a one-way channel, from you to Draco. A very strong link sometimes allows the emotions of the weaker partner to flow back across it, giving the stronger insight into how much power is needed and how to apply it, but most links are not that strong."

"I know I shouldn't ask this, but... what makes a strong link?"

"The combined power of the wizards involved and the amount of blood shared. It can be done with only a drop or two, but that creates a weak and temporary link."

"I gave Malfoy a whole pint."

"I think there is little doubt that you and Draco would form a very powerful link indeed," Dumbledore said gently. "Or that you would need it to accomplish what you must."

"Save his life."

"That, and free him from his father long enough to allow him to choose."

"Do you really think there's a chance he'd choose our side, Professor?"

"I don't know, but I believe that every witch and wizard is entitled to a free choice. Draco can't choose when his mind is overwhelmed by dark spells and summoning charms. You, Harry, have the strength of will to resist the charm and to fight the spells that still cling to him, allowing him to heal."

"I would... send him strength through the link and fight the summoning charm, and that's it?"

"That is a great deal."

"I wouldn't have Malfoy talking in my head or spying on my thoughts?"

Dumbledore smiled. "No. It is not a telepathic link. It operates below the level of conscious thought, where strength and weakness, fear and courage, love and hate are born. If you chose to do it, you could send more of yourself through the link to use your power more efficiently, but you would never be inside Draco's mind or he inside yours. And you would always have the choice to simply shut it off."

"I could break the link?"

"Not break it; block it. Only one of us who formed the link could sever it, but you could choose to withhold your power and shut off the flow of emotions either direction through it."

Licking his lips with nervousness, Harry finally asked the one overridingly important question that had been sitting like a lump of lead in his stomach all this time. "Why me?"

"Because you are strong and brave and not afraid to use your power when it is called for. But most importantly, because you always listen to your heart, Harry. It is your greatest strength. And your heart will not allow Draco Malfoy to die, no matter how much you think you hate him, if you can prevent it."

Harry didn't know what to say in answer to this. He knew what he ought to say, but he couldn't quite make his mouth form the words. Professor Dumbledore seemed so sure of his agreement, not to mention his ability to set aside years of hatred and bitterness to give his strength - no, give himself - to the most loathsome human being he had ever met.

That thought gave Harry pause. Did he really think that Draco was the most loathsome person he'd ever met? If he told himself the strict truth, he would have to say no. Lucius Malfoy was much worse. And Cornelius Fudge was a coward, which was much worse than a sneaky rat in Harry's book. Then, of course, there were the Dursleys. They were stupid and cowardly. Draco wasn't stupid or cowardly, though he was devious and mean and hateful... All in all, Harry knew quite a few people who ranked below Draco in his esteem. In fact, he could think of several for whom he would not even consider doing anything like this Blood Link.

Another uncomfortable truth was that part of him wanted to form this link, and not just because Dumbledore was looking at him with sad, understanding, hopeful eyes that made his skin crawl with potential guilt. Even if Dumbledore didn't care one way or another, Harry would be tempted. He didn't feel sorry for Draco and didn't figure Draco would want his sympathy if he had it, but he did understand how important it was to choose for yourself, with no one lying to you, manipulating you, or bullying you. And if Harry could give that to Malfoy, he figured he would have done one really, truly unselfish thing in his life, no matter what choice Malfoy made in the end. It was tempting. It was also terrifying.

Clearing his throat awkwardly, Harry lifted his eyes to meet Dumbledore's. "I asked you before if you thought this was best."

"And I told you that I did."

"Were you... were you talking about all of it?"

"Yes, Harry, I was."

Harry nodded slowly, tiredly. "Then I'll do it."

He found Hermione waiting for him in the new infirmary. It was another dank, grey, cold dungeon room that someone had tried in vain to make comfortable and reassuring. Beds taken from the hospital wing lined the stone walls on either side, and a fire burned merrily on the hearth at the far end. All the candles had shades over them to soften the light, and white fabric screens separated most of the beds. Harry counted more than twenty children lying in them before he stopped looking. It depressed him to see so many injured students.

Hermione had indeed saved him a bed near the fire, behind a large screen that was pulled to completely hide him from curious eyes. Unfortunately, Malfoy shared his private spot, lying very still and very white in the bed next to his. Harry could not help wishing that Draco would wake up and throw a couple of insults or a nasty curse at him, just for the sake of normalcy. A quiet Malfoy was a creepy Malfoy.

Hermione waited until Madam Pomfrey had left him alone to settle in, then she flew around the screen and over to his bed, chattering breathlessly.

"Oh, Harry! I'm so glad you've come! I meant to tell you before that I heard the professors talking while you were asleep and there's a lot about this Blood Link that I'll bet Dumbledore didn't tell you!"


"Snape and McGonagall don't want you to do it! They argued with Dumbledore and McGonagall said one of the teachers ought to be the one but Dumbledore wouldn't allow it because he needs them all to maintain the wards which are growing terribly weak with the Death Eaters so close. But McGonagall is afraid that Voldemort will get you through the summoning charm. Snape's afraid you'll go crazy - or crazier than you already are by his standards - and try to murder Malfoy or something ridiculous like that... I couldn't really understand what he was on about... Only Harry, you mustn't do it! I mean it! It's terribly dangerous and it will link you to Malfoy in the most intimate way, and we are talking about Malfoy here. I mean... Malfoy!"

"Hermione, do shut up!" She clamped her mouth shut, her face flushed. "I know all about it. Dumbledore told me."

"He wants you to do it, doesn't he?"


"But Harry, you can't!"

"I've already agreed."


"Don't scream at me like that! You'll wake up Malfoy."

"Good. Then they'll all see that he's perfectly fine and leave you alone!"

Harry cast a doubtful glance at the boy in the next bed and thought, privately, that if he were any farther from 'perfectly fine,' he'd be decomposing.

"I'm going to get Ron," Hermione threatened, darkly. "He'll talk some sense into you."

"No! Please, Hermione, don't tell him. He... won't understand."

"I don't understand."

"Yes, you do." Harry stared glumly at Draco's pale, purple-shadowed face, feeling the knot in his stomach tighten viciously. "You knew I'd do it."

"Oh... honestly!"

The disgust in her voice made Harry smile, and he knew before he looked at her what he would see. Sure enough, she was standing with her hands planted on her hips, her eyes narrowed threateningly, and her mouth all crooked as she struggled to say something that tasted really bad.

"Fine. So you're going to hook yourself up to Draco Malfoy like a... a... petrol pump and give him all your power. What will you do when he takes what you give him and heads off to join Voldemort? Can you live with that?"

He thought about the choice that Draco still faced - the free choice - and nodded slowly. "If that's what he wants."

Hermione sighed and sat down on the edge of the bed, her gaze following Harry's to the comatose Draco. "Okay. But if you start talking like him, I'll pretend I don't know you."

Harry chuckled. "No you won't. You'll look at me with those big, sad eyes and say, 'Oh, Harrry!'"

She shook her head in exasperation. "Oh, Harry."

They stayed sitting together, holding hands for comfort, until the murmur of adult voices in the room warned them that their time was up. Harry climbed into the bed and pulled the blankets up to his chin, suddenly feeling as though he were about to have his appendix removed or something. He expected to see a Muggle doctor with a huge needle and a tray full of chrome knives. Instead, he saw Professors Dumbledore and Snape, with Madam Pomfrey hovering behind them, all holding their wands.

Harry stared up at Dumbledore, his mouth gone suddenly dry. "I guess it's time."

Dumbledore nodded. "I want you to close your eyes, Harry, and try to relax."

"It would be easier if I were unconscious, like Malfoy."


So Harry tried. He closed his eyes, took a few deep breaths, and tried to imagine that he was soaring over the Quidditch field on his Firebolt, with the wind in his hair and the evening mist blurring his glasses. It was beautiful, exciting, euphoric, and he never wanted it to end...

Then something reached into his chest and grabbed hold of his heart.

To be continued...