“Sshh! Just be still!” Draco pleaded quietly.
Ron reached up using every ounce of strength he had left, and grabbed onto Draco’s sleeve.
He looked at him pointedly, and said. “Well, I guess I won’t be able to tell Lav and Hermione what a git you are.” Although he was trying to sound lighthearted, the words were struggled out in a strained, tight voice.
At that, the smile slid from Ron’s face, and his eyes lost their focus and fell shut. The hand holding onto Draco so tightly before, fell limply to Ron’s side.
“Don’t you dare, Weasley! Don’t you dare! Hold on! Please, just hold on!” Draco screamed.
He desperately looked around for any kind of help. When he spotted Ron’s wand, without thinking, he reached out and grabbed it. Draco felt something surge within him, and he knew what he had to do.
He took a deep calming breath to settle his frayed nerves, and let his eyelids descend closing out the frantic world around him.
In an almost hypnotic state, he allowed his arm to rise up and his hand to angle the wand toward Ron’s chest. He mumbled hushed words sweet and low, and felt the jolt of the wand as magic began to shoot from its tip.
After a few long moments, he opened his eyes hazarding a glance at Ron. His eyes were still firmly shut, and sweat had begun to bead across his forehead, but Ron’s chest was rising and falling with strong, laboured breaths nonetheless. Relief flooding him, Draco smiled warmly.
The next step would be just as difficult. As magic continued to stream from the wand into the centre of Ron’s chest, Draco tightened his grip around him, and closed his eyes. He stopped the flow of magic, and adjusted his focus.
‘Well isn’t this familiar,’ he mused to himself as he felt the tight squeeze take hold.
Harry started to look around frantically through the still chaotic scene for Draco and Ron. Suddenly, his eyes landed on them twenty yards away. Draco was holding Ron, and desperately scanning the crowd. Harry was about to make his way over to them when he felt someone tug his sleeve.
Turning quickly, he came face to face with none other than Rita Skeeter.
“Harry Potter! Harry Potter! What do you think prompted this attack today? Who was the intended victim? Does this have anything to do with the love triangle between Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, and yourself? Is there now a fourth?”
Due to a mixture of blinding rage, and adrenaline, Harry’s hand shot out and grabbed the woman by the throat. He brought his face within mere inches of hers, and glared into her eyes.
“I’ll say this just once,” he whispered hoarsely, “if you ever write anything about me or my friends in your rag of a newspaper again, make sure you have a very secure hiding place because I will hunt you down, and make your life a living hell.”
He released her, and took a step back keeping his eyes trained on her. She touched her neck, and looked nonplussed.
“Threats against the media will not work Mr. Potter,” she finally said haughtily while trying to regain her composure.
“It’s not a threat. It’s a promise,” he said with a deadly calm, and her features froze in shock and fear.
With that, he spun around to distance himself from her, and to find Draco and Ron. His eyes immediately fell upon a horrific sight. A green stream of magic was flowing into Ron’s chest from a wand held by a very focused Draco.
Harry began to tremble with unmitigated terror and rage. Whatever Draco was doing, it didn’t look good. Acting on pure instinct, Harry drew his wand and tried to find a clear shot, but the crowd was still too chaotic.
He attempted to maintain eye contact. In one moment, he had them within his sights, but as someone crossed his line of vision, Draco and Ron disappeared.
“NO!” Harry screamed desperately.
Opening his eyes, Draco looked around trying to find his bearings. He was in the hallway that led to his old room in St. Mungo’s. Glancing downward, he found Ron still unconscious in his arms, and to his great relief still all in one piece.
In the next moment, he saw a small line of blood seep out of Ron’s mouth and down his chin. Draco realized quickly that he had to do something, get someone’s attention, and he began to scream at the top of his lungs.
“HELP ME! ...PLEASE SOMEONE! ...ANYONE!”
Ginny emerged from a doorway down the hall to see what all the commotion was about. Upon seeing Draco huddled on the ground clutching Ron’s lifeless body, she let out a small gasp and ran to them as fast as she could. Still in motion, she dove to the ground onto her hands and knees, and crawled the rest of the way.
Taking in both Ron and Draco’s bloodied clothing, Ginny asked mortified. “What happened?”
“An attack… Beatrix… Ron jumped in the way,” he said breathlessly as he laid Ron down on the floor.
“Oh Gods! What the bloody hell did she use?” Ginny said as she began to wave her wand slowly over Ron’s body.
Suddenly, she stilled and her eyes widened.
“The Cutting Curse,” she whispered. “Oh, Merlin no… the counter hasn’t been fully developed yet,” she sobbed with such despondency.
She continued to scan him with her wand, and a curious expression took hold of her features.
“There should be more internal bleeding for the amount of injuries he’s sustained. He should be bleeding out.” Her eyes widened in realization as she took in Draco's sheepish expression.
“Draco, did you…”
Suddenly, several loud ‘pops’ resounded from down the hall and some one shouted. “There he is.”
Ginny and Draco turned their heads to see several Aurors lead by Harry bearing down the hall toward them with their wands out.
Ginny jumped up placing herself firmly between Draco and Ron, and the onslaught barreling toward them with her wand arm extended in an defensive stance.
“Don’t you dare come a step closer,” she screamed viciously.
They all stopped dead in their tracks, and Harry bit out in return. “Ginny, what are you doing? Get out of the way. He was attacking Ron.”
“No, you stupid git,” she yelled. “He was saving his bloody life.”
Stunned, Harry's arms dropped to his sides, and everyone else fell absolutely silent. The only thing that could be heard in the hallway was their collective heavy breathing.
Breaking the precarious silence, Ginny turned to Draco still on the ground, and said. “Whatever you did… whatever the spell… keep doing it!”
Draco only nodded, and returned his focus to Ron.
“Gin, he’s not supposed to do magic.” Harry interjected.
Ginny glowered darkly at Harry. “I don’t give a rats arse what he is or is not supposed to do. He’s the only one who can stop the bleeding, and there’s no way…”
Suddenly, a loud piercing scream came from down the hall.
Everyone turned to see Hermione standing frozen at the other end of the corridor with Lavender at her side.
After what seemed like an eternity, she called out, “Ron,” and set off at a full run toward them tears streaming down her face.
Once she had reached them, her knees buckled landing her beside Draco. As she reached up to gingerly touch Ron’s blood smeared face, she began to shake uncontrollably, and mumbled “So much blood…”
Without warning, she turned to Draco and growled. “What did you do to him?”
Draco looked at her in deep shock, and pain instantly clouded his steel grey eyes.
“Hermione, he’s not hurting Ron. He’s trying to help him.” Ginny said soothingly.
Hermione looked up to her with wide eyes much like a confused child. Draco gently took Hermione’s small hands in his drawing her attention back to him, and looked intently into her eyes.
He reached up and cupped her jaw stroking her cheek with his thumb. Hermione visibly calmed, and a small watery smile graced her lips. She laughed a little, and threw her arms around his neck in a fierce hug. Draco himself couldn’t help but chuckle slightly, and return the hug.
She pulled back, and wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand.
“You stupid prat, get on with it then,” she said teasingly the waver not completely out of her voice.
With a grim determination, Draco picked up the wand at his side. Three other healers had now joined the crowd, and were crouched over Ron.
Draco looked to the one directly across from him, and said. “The curse hit him in the back. We need to get his shirt off, and roll him onto his stomach.”
The three healers looked to Ginny for confirmation.
Realizing they wouldn’t do anything without her consent, she burst out. “What are you waiting for? Do what he says.”
Jumping slightly, they began to remove Ron’s shirt and followed the instructions Draco was now quietly giving them.
Hermione scooted out of the way, and leaned her back against the hallway wall.
Closing his eyes, Draco began to mumble softly, and a green light shot out of the wand and straight into Ron’s back.
A loud gasp came from Ron, but his whole being seemed to enliven a bit.
Ginny turned to Lavender who had finally come to stand beside her, and said quietly. “Can you get Hermione out of here?”
Lavender unwillingly dragged her eyes away from the scene unfolding on the floor to meet Ginny’s level gaze.
Silently, she nodded, and walked over to stand in front of Hermione who was now hugging her knees to her chest, and watching the healers and Draco working over Ron’s body. Lavender knelt down in front of her, and softly placed her hand upon Hermione’s knee.
She pulled her eyes away to meet Lavender’s gaze, and said. ““The last time I saw him, I said that I didn’t….”
Hermione couldn’t finish her sentence. She choked on her words, and placed her head against her knees.
Lavender took her hand from her knee, and began to gently stroke the back of Hermione”s head.
“He knows you do,” she said consolingly.
Lavender took both of Hermione’s hands in hers, and pulled her up with her as she stood. She quickly threw her arm around Hermione’s shoulder to steady her, and led the sobbing girl down the hall toward her room.
Suddenly from behind the group of Aurors came a forceful voice. “What is the meaning of this?”
The Aurors parted to reveal five officials including Mr. Weasley and Percy.
“Mr. Malfoy, it has only been two hours and you are already clearly violating the terms of your sentencing.” Percy said arrogantly.
Draco purposefully ignored him, and continued keeping his attention firmly on Ron.
“Father, he should be apprehended immediately and escorted to Azkaban.” Percy whined slightly.
Ginny lunged at Percy but was held back by Harry. She wrestled against him to try and free herself, but quieted after a moment. Harry, however, still held her tightly refusing to let her go not trusting that her temper would not flare again.
Paying no heed to Percy, Mr. Weasley took a step forward, and stared down at Ron.
“What happened?” He asked clearly shaken but the gruesome image of his son laid out in a pool of his own blood.
“He was hit by the Cutting Curse.” Ginny answered with a shaking voice. “This curse causes the victim’s wounds to remain open, and bleeding regardless of medical attention. They just keep reopening and bleeding out. It cut across several of Ron’s major organs, Dad.” She eked out the last.
The tears began to pour down her face, but she swiped at them quickly.
“Why is Draco…” Arthur motioned weakly to the sight before him.
“Because he’s the only one who knows the counter curse, Dad.”
“Dad,” Percy interrupted. “This isn’t right. Mr. Malfoy needs to be taken into custody.”
“Please don’t take away Ron’s only chance.” Ginny pleaded starting to become hysterical.
Turning Ginny to face him, Harry lowered his voice for only her to hear.
“Gin, you need to get started on Ron. Get him out of here, and take Draco with you. I’ll deal with this.”
Ginny looked him in the eye, and took a deep breath. She nodded to him slightly acknowledging the wisdom of this statement. Avoiding her father and brother’s gazes, she turned, and bent down to join the group hunched over Ron’s unmoving form.
After a moment, she levitated Ron up with a practiced grace as Draco continued his steady stream of magic. They were followed by the three other healers down the hall, and disappeared into another corridor.
Everyone watched them leave with an air of solemnity. Harry hated how he had instantly been reminded of a funeral dirge. Shaking off this awful feeling, he turned to Mr. Weasley.
From the moment he’d learned what Draco was actually doing, Harry had tried to find a loophole or some other flaw in the Ministry’s statement of punishment. What he had come up with was probably not the best answer, but it was all he had.
“Arthur listen, Draco was supposed to do community service here in the hospital. Why can’t the Council consider this as the start of his service?”
“Dad, the conditions clearly stated that he was not to perform any magic.” Percy huffed.
“Shut up you prat. Ron would be dead right now if Draco hadn’t acted.” Harry growled.
Percy’s face went white, and he fell silent.
“Arthur, you can’t let them take Draco for this. That was a Deatheater’s curse. Draco saved Ron’s life.”
“What did you just say?” Arthur asked perking up at something particular Harry had said.
Harry looked at him oddly, but answered anyway. “Draco saved…”
“No, the first part.” Arthur interrupted.
“It was a Deatheater’s curse.”
“How many of those do you wager there are?” Arthur asked seeming to fall deeper into his own thoughts.
“Oh Merlin, at least fifty that we know of.” Harry answered.
Several tense moments passed as Mr. Weasley seemed to consider the options.
“Percy, floo your mother and brothers. Let them know what’s happened to Ron.”
Percy nodded still quite ashen from his realization regarding Ron’s near death. Percy Weasley may have been an overly ambitious Ministry tosser, but he was still a Weasley, and he still loved his family more than anything. Sometimes, he just lost sight of what was going on around him.
“Excuse me Harry.” Mr. Weasley said distractedly. “I have to speak to my colleagues about a pressing matter. Gentleman, come with me.”
With that, the Aurors and Ministry officials disapparated away leaving Harry to himself in the middle of the hallway.
Moments ago, there had been several people crowding this space, and now he was utterly alone. He looked around trying to make sense of everything that had just happened. Now that things were calm, he could feel the emotion surging up threatening to take over.
He looked down to the pool of blood on the floor. Ron’s blood. There was so much of it. That was all it took for the floodgates to open. The tears welled up in his eyes, and he fell to his knees. He had never been a religious man, but in that moment he prayed regardless.