It was almost nine o'clock when the pounding on the door sounded through Cassia's house. She looked up from her book in shock, Draco jumped and Sam raised an eyebrow. "Are you going to get that?" he asked after a few seconds.
"Maybe…" she hedged. "But it could be charity collectors."
They banged again. She sighed and went to answer the door. Not having many friends, she had few visitors, and even fewer unannounced.
"Evening," her dark haired neighbour greeted with a smile in his green eyes. "Am I right in thinking Draco Malfoy is staying with you?"
"Yes…" Cassia hedged, unsure of the reasoning. She remembered that Severus had made it very clear that the wizarding world was not interested in welcoming Draco anymore, and given her new suspicions that this man (and his redheaded shadow) were wandbearers, she was unsure.
"Ron here has an apology to make to Malfoy," he informed her. Ron looked less than happy about this.
"Not a fucking chance," Sam informed them. "You are not coming in here to attack him again!"
There was a lot of Cassia to catch up with here, she could tell. "Sam?" she asked mind to mind.
"Redhead attacked Draco this morning," Sam supplied back.
"Give me your wands," she said after a few moments thought. If they had their access to magic taken away, but she retained hers, they were no match for her.
"What?" Ron exclaimed. "No way!"
Harry had already pulled out the slender, polished wand. "Do as she says Ron," he instructed. He handed Cassia his wand with a wry grin. She took it, feeling the strange buzz she'd felt holding a wand before. It was almost a purr, as if it liked her, but she knew if she tried to call on magic, it would make a very pretty firework, burning up in the process. She'd gone through five before they decided to give up. Ron grimaced and glanced at Harry again. "Ronald…" the smaller man warned.
"Fine," Ron huffed, and held out his own wand to Cassia. "But it's not right. Why should you get the upper hand?"
"Because it's my house," she said firmly. Ron only huffed. She waved them both through to the living room. Draco had stood,, and was pressed against the wall next to the kitchen door, obviously ready to bolt at a moment's notice. Cassia sighed, and a turquoise shimmer rose up before him. "Since Draco is obviously terrified, that shield will stop anyone getting close to him," she said.
Draco smiled weakly, but didn't relax much. He wasn't altogether sure of any magic, or it's ability to protect him. Cassia picked up a cushion and threw it at him. He flinched, but it never hit, bouncing off the turquoise shield instead. "It'll move with you, Draco," she said gently. "You can sit down."
He experimentally shuffled a little, and seeing the glimmer in the air move with him, perched on the edge of the sofa. Cassia waved Ron towards him, inviting him to speak, and then she sat, curling herself into her chair with her book. She pretended not to be aware of what was going on around her, but anyone who cared to notice would have realised that she wasn't turning the pages.
Ron shuffled his feet self consciously, carefully not looking at Draco. He glanced at Harry. "Go on," the brunette hissed. Cassia peered surreptitiously over the edge of her book at Sam. He was braced, his hands cupped in such a way that it would be easy for him to spellcast at any moment. He was learning quickly, she mused.
"I'm, er, I'm sorry," Ron stuttered out. "I shouldn't have gone for you like that when you didn't give me any reason."
Draco could feel all the eyes in the room on him, even though he refused to meet an of them, preferring to study his gripped hands in his lap. "But what I don't get," Ron blurted out, "is why you didn't even draw your wand."
A deep blush heated Draco's pale cheeks, but still he didn't speak around the lump in his throat. Sam couldn't stand the silence anymore. "He has no magic anymore," he said.
Draco gave one sob and fled, the air still shimmering around him. Cassia raised a hand, and the power returned to her. The door to Draco's bedroom slammed.
"He what?" demanded Ron.
Harry was shaking his head. "I don't think that's possible," he said. "You can't just lose magic. It doesn't work that way."
Cassia finally put down the book she wasn't reading. "Well, apparently it is, but no healers will see him because of who he is. So I'd really appreciate it if you two could either support him, or leave him alone. He's frightened and all but defenceless."
Harry nodded thoughtfully. "We'll behave," he promised, and elbowed Ron until the latter, too, nodded. Cassia held out two wands, holding them by the tips so the men could take the handles.
As Ron took his, Sam couldn't help but say, "If I see or hear of you hurting him again, you'll have more that wind to contend with." Ron visibly blanched and troted out of the house rather more quickly than he'd entered it. Sam shut the door firmly behind he and Harry.
Cassia sighed and massaged her temples. There was a headache blooming behind her eyes. "I'm going to bed," she told Sam. "You should think about i too, if you're going to be up for work in the morning."
"Tomorrow?" he asked, startled. "So soon?"
"Sam," she said, standing, "I'm not your mother, to decide when you should or shouldn't go to school. It's up to you. But it won't get easier. The longer you have off, the more people will be suspicious. You need to show that you're managing as usual." She didn't even wait for his response before she went in search of painkillers.
Battle magic was really quite useless in the new world, she mused. Healing would have been more useful.
The last thing Cassia expected was to find Sam letting himself out of Draco's bedroom early the next morning.. She raised an eyebrow, causing him to blush a deep shade of crimson. "He was upset," he attempted to explain.
"I see," was all she said. "You coming to work?"
"Suppose so," he groused, running a hand over his sleep-mussed hair. "I'm up, so I might as well." She couldn't help a tiny smile when he went into the bathroom. The suspicion had always been that Sam was gay, but no one had ever been entirely sure. He could be just friendly to Draco, but she wouldn't be surprised if there was something more.
Cassia had to steer Sam away from his car, telling him the walk would do him good. The nearer they got to work, though, the more worried he felt. Cassia finally stopped him when she felt his magic flutter out around him. "Sam," she said firmly, turning him to look at her, "you need to get a grip. Did you meditate this morning?"
He shook his head. She suppressed a sigh of frustration. "You're doing well, Sam, really you are. Exceptionally well. I had no idea you'd be able to have enough control over your magic to actually cast yet, at least not consciously. But your gift, it's wild. It wants to control you, but you can't let that happen. You have to control it, and meditation is the best way to do that." She looked at him sternly until he nodded. "Okay, when we get to work, you take end minutes in my office to gather yourself, then you go to talk to Connie. I'll come it you want."
"Thanks," he muttered, feeling a bit better. He'd been scared of facing Connie. The silver amulet he was carrying in his pocket dug into his palm as he tried to will his unruly magic into it.
Draco was not only still asleep when Cassia and Sam got in, he was apparently comatose. Cassia dashed across the road and hammered on the door of number nine. A bleary eyed Harry answered, awoken from a late afternoon nap. "Severus Snape, do you know him?" she demanded.
"Umm, yes…" Harry replied hesitantly.
"Can you contact him? Urgently? Draco, he's not well, he's fevered, I can't wake him. I think it could be something magical."
"I'll try to floo Snape. If he doesn't answer, I'll send my owl." He thought a moment. "We have a friend staying who's training to be a mediwitch, a healer. Shall I send her over?"
"Please!" Cassia said. "And thanks, too!"
Hermione made over in five minutes flat, and after a brief introduction was perched on the edge of Draco's bed. Sam hovered nearby, concern etched on his face. "Is now a good time to ask what you were even doing in his bed this morning, Sam?" Cassia asked.
"Do you think I hurt him?" Sam asked, concerned. "Did my gift hurt him?"
"I shouldn't think so," Cassia assured him. "Gifted people have been having sex just as well as the non gifted." Sam was distracted enough that he didn't even try to deny sleeping with Draco.
"But maybe the gift and wand magic…"
Cassia's laugh sounded like a bark. "I am going to assume that I was not conceived by turkey baster," she pointed out.
Hermione was performing a series of complicated wand movements over Draco, muttering to herself and furrowing her brow. "There's something off here," she said eventually. "There's some part of him that's resisting me, that I can't read. It's like a black hole in the diagnosis spells."
"You know his ability to do magic disappeared?" Cassia asked. "Maybe the part that used to control his magic is resisting you?"
"Yeah, Harry and Ron told me." she said, sitting back and shaking her head as if to clear it. "I did wonder that, but this doesn't see like a part that's missing- it's more like something deeply hidden."
"Let me try, Miss Granger," Snape said silkily from the doorway.
"Door was open," Harry whispered to Cassia. "He didn't seem keen on waiting."
Snape swished his wand briskly over Draco. A shadowed turquoise aura glowed around the wand tip. "That's the colour of my gift," Sam breathed. "Are you sure I didn't hurt him?"
"The spell reveals hidden things, secrets," Snape said. "It's so murky precisely because it is hidden- I would be very interested to know what relevance your magic has here," he said, fixing Sam in a steely glare. "But there's something else. Something else feels wrong."
"Sam," Cassia said, resting her hand on her brother's shoulder, "What happened last night? I wouldn't ask for details, except it seems very suspicious that he's become so ill so suddenly, just after you spent the night together."
"We had sex, okay! Just sex!" Sam exclaimed, bright red, and rushed from the room. The bathroom door slammed and locked behind him.
"Didn't think Malfoy was the type," Ron muttered to Harry.
"Shut up, Ron," Hermione muttered.
Snape completely ignored the revelation that his godson was sleeping with a man he'd met two days ago. "Since there seems to be some residue of Tortallan magic, would a healer of yours be able to see to him?" he asked.
Cassia nodded. "I'll get someone," she promised. There was always a Tortallan watching the portal from both sides, and the new world side kept a telephone. If she could get a message to Baird, he would send one of his healers, she was sure. She just hoped that it would do some good.
Neal of Queenscove arrived almost three hours later. Sam had come out of the bathroom after an hour, but refused to talk to or acknowledge anyone. He drank the tea placed in front of him, but ignored the food.
Cassia led Neal up the stairs and into Draco's room, only half listening to him grumbling about the new world. He wasn't fond of it, meaning she was particularly grateful to him coming here to help her. His father would have made his life unbearable had Neal not come, but she still appreciated it.
Neal laid a hand on Draco's forehead, his methods of diagnosis very different from the wand-waving earlier.
"He's a chimera," Neal said after a few minutes.
"Fascinating as that is, what relevance does it have to the fact that he's still unconscious?" Cassia snapped, her temper frayed and tiredness sapping at her energy.
"Be nice, Cass," he replied, earning himself an exasperated growl. "It's relevant because his gift appears to be gone. He's gone into shutdown to preserve his life."
"I think you missed something, Neal. That's not the gift, he has wandbearer magic," Cassia insisted.
"Nope." Neal said, grinning. "He has two full sets of genetics, perhaps some kind of vanishing twin. I can feel the wandbearing ability, and a gift, but it's dwindling. Something- someone- must be tapping his magic. Also, he's not exactly a he. He's got a full set of internal female reproductive organs."
"What!" exclaimed Harry, Ron and Cassia all at once.
"Fascinating," Snape contributed, coming closer to the bed. "So he has two different sets of genetics, both male and female? He's a hermaphrodite?"
"Yes," Neal confirmed. "And he must have come from a mixture of wandbearing and Tortallan stock, like Cassia, to be showing signs of the gift."
"There is no possibility of him having Tortallan blood," Severus protested. "He is the product of two of the oldest and purest wizarding families- there is no chance of sullying of his blood,"
Neal shrugged, choosing to let the insult to Tortallan blood slide.. "He has traces of the gift in his system, and he's showing the classic signs of someone who's overused their gift. I think he just needs to recuperate his magic, but to that, we need to find out what spells he's still holding, or what is taking his gift, and stopping it," he explained to Severus. Severus's mouth tightened, annoyed at being told he was wrong. He knew there was no possibility that either Narcissa or Lucius Malfoy had any Tortallan blood.
"Well, I suppose we should see if he's holding any spells, then," Cassia said. "Severus detected what looked like the Susannah Lake gift. Let's see if I can top it up enough to bring him round. Here's hoping I don't have another sibling to contend with."
She settled on the edge of the bed and took one of Draco's cold hands in her own. Once again, she was struck by the difference in healing and magic between the gifted and the wandbearers- the gift needed contact, the wandbearers were able to do everything from a distance.
"Let me?" Sam asked quietly. No one was sure how long he'd been hovering in the doorway. "I want to help."
"Sam, love, you don't have very good control of your gift yet. I'm not sure it's a good idea" Cassia explained with a smile. "Come and sit by us, though."
Cassia had only shared her magic with another person a few times before, usually to prove that is was possible, or when another mage had been exhausted, but never with someone so depleted in their gift that they were unconscious. There was a strange resistance, like she was pushing through treacle instead of the usual smooth flow of one gift into another.
Draco's colour improved almost immediately, his always pale skin no longer looking ashen. In fact, he looked better than when he'd first arrived. He immediately shuffled himself into a more comfortable position on his side, sighed, and carried on sleeping.
"Why isn't he waking up?" Sam whispered.
"He will soon, probably in a few hours" Neal assured him. "That's a natural sleep, not coma. He's resting." He shooed at the other people in the room. "I'll sit with him tonight. Everyone, go to bed."
Harry, Ron and Hermione decamped back across the road, but Severus took up residence on the longest sofa in the living room, determined to wait until he knew Draco was well. Cassia left him with a pillow and a blanket. It was harder to persuade Sam to go to bed. "Sam," Cassia sighed, "this will go faster if you sleep. I'll wake you if anything happens, I promise."
Sam sat on the edge of his bed, visibly drooping. "How can I sleep?" he asked fretfully. "I've hurt him."
Cassia perched next to him. "Sam, you haven't hurt him. It's so complicated, I can't get my head around it, but you are not to blame for a biological anomaly which has been present since his birth." She awkwardly hugged Sam from the side. "Look, I can make you sleep, if it's easier. At least you'll get some rest."
"You can do that?" he asked, puzzled.
"Yeah. Sleep is a suspension of reality, in many ways. It's easy for me to induce dream states which lead into sleep. I can even make sure you don't have nightmares. Healers can induce sleep too, but only truth tellers can influence dreams."
"That's really scary, you know," he informed her, deadpan. "Fine. Give me five minutes to get ready for bed, then do what you need to."
Seven minutes later, Cassia slipped back into Draco's room. Neal was reclining on the bed next to his prone patient, a book in his hands. "You can sleep too, you know," he told Cassia. "I'll wake you."
She shook her head. "I'd rather not," she said. "I can get by on little enough sleep."
"Because you use your gift to top you up. Don't think I can't see it, Cass," he admonished. By Tortallan law, Cassia was a little sister to him, since his father was her guardian. He felt responsible. "That's not how it's meant to work."
"We all do it," she pointed out. "Surely it's just one of the benefits of being a mage?"
"It is," Neal agreed, "until something like this happens." He gestured down towards Draco, still asleep.
"I know," she said quietly. "I'm fine, Neal, really I am."
He huffed out his disbelief. "Come here," he said, opening his arms. It was nice to be held for a few minutes, she realised. It was nice to feel safe, to let someone else worry for those few moments. Neal cuddled her silently, neither needing to speak. She enjoyed being looked after, and he thought of his own little daughter, only a few months old, and hoped that life would be easy and pleasant for her.
Beside them, Draco finally stirred, and blinked at the soft lamplight in the room.