Hi, I wish I had an explanation for the last several years, but honestly, I just grew up. It's a bit like leaving Neverland, isn't it. This fic, this outlet got me through so so much, and now I'm 26, a mom, a wife, and just recently got a notification that someone added this story to their favorites. Thank you, it reminded this world still exists. I don't remember what my plan was for this fic, and re-reading it seems like a huge waste of time, I want to write something for you guys, so bear with me as I figure out how to remember and how to do this.0000
His hair is gone, that's that. Aunt Petunia hugged him for a long time. Until Harry had moved away actually. That was nice for what it was worth, but somehow losing his hair was like a final nail in the coffin of his new cancer strewn life.
Dealing with this was just one more thing on his plate, and the tears that pricked in his eyes when he caught himself in the mirror as he left the house were just another unfortunate reality.
He'd always been told his hair was just like his dad's, and now that too was gone.
Malfoy's voice brought Harry abruptly out of his reverie and he realized he was standing motionless in the middle of Professor Snape's quarters. The beanie he now wore over his ears somehow causing him to feel more self-conscious than his port or the weight he had lost ever did.
He made eye contact with Malfoy, and then with Professor Snape, "It's just hair, right?" he said, shrugging his shoulders in a poor attempt at nonchalance.
Malfoy nodded, seemingly unable to form words himself, Professor Snape's eyebrows drew together. As he opened his mouth to speak, Harry interrupted him, suddenly unwilling to hear anymore about it.
"I'll get over it," he said, waving them off, "It's just a bit jarring, isn't it? I knew it would happen, I just need to- to-" Harry looked around wildly, searching for the words to express cry about it without saying it quite so plainly.
Snape took pity on him, "Would you like your friends over? Granger and Weasley?" he asked, pushing past the topic, which Harry was immensely grateful for.
Nevertheless he muttered, "Not right this minute," and turned, heading for his room. "I'll be out for dinner," he said, and closed the door behind him.
Draco looked at Severus, eyes wide, "I think this might do Potter in, he looked like he was going spare," he whispered, hoping to be quiet enough Potter couldn't hear him. Emotions had never been Draco's strong suit, neither his nor someone else's. He felt supremely uncomfortable. Pity mingling with an odd sensation to make a joke and lighten the mood.
Severus also appeared to be done in, for he strode into the kitchen and sat heavily, leaning forward to place his elbow on the table. His head dropped into his hand. Draco's stomach sank, unsure of what would come next. Would they all tiptoe around each other now? Pretend nothing weird was going on? That was the way his parents home often felt. Either that or blazing unabashed anger from his father. Scathing words and forceful threats.
Anxiety pricked at him, and he couldn't help but open his mouth, "I'll make some tea, Merlin knows we all could use a cup, eh Professor?" he stumbled a little over his words but got his feet moving somehow. Best to just plow through, anxiety aside he knew Severus wasn't going to start yelling or casting curses at him, despite the voice in his head telling him to go and hide in his room.
He tapped the kettle with his wand, the water inside instantly boiling. He set three cups out and set about making tea, ignoring the silence that stretched on in the kitchen.
"It's alright, Draco. I am simply tired," Severus said wearily, a few minutes into Draco's clinking. "I have been through a great deal of experiences, this I must say, I never would have anticipated."
It was a surprising amount of transparency, even with the deepening relationship that had come from living and depending on Severus, Draco passed him the cup of tea, "I can't say I anticipated this either."
Draco sat with his tea for a minute, trying to understand how to convey what he was feeling, he opened his mouth several times before he could form the words. "I-" he started, "I'm confused." He took a sip of his tea, his eyes briefly flicking up from the pattern on the cup to make contact with Severus'. They glittered black and unyielding, he never could tell what Professor Snape was thinking. "I was raised to hate and almost fear Potter, then told to befriend him, then endure his rejection and Father's insistence that I prove myself better than him, and now-" he looked directly into Severus' eyes then, "Now I feel nothing but pity, almost sadness, for him," he shrugged helplessly, "I'm not quite sure what to do with that."
Professor Snape's eyebrows were slightly raised, "The complexity of your situation is not lost on me. I find myself in quite a similar circumstance." Severus blew out a noisy sigh, "I suppose despite that boy's annoying tendencies, to watch another human endure such pain and suffering with no end in sight is hard to stomach for us both."
Draco let those words sink in, and the part of him, however small, the now distant version of himself who once believed he wanted a dark mark burned into his flesh, broke off and fell away.
He was not who he was, and changing, whether he truly believed it possible before this point, had happened upon him either way. Draco pushed his chair back, "I'm going to give Potter his tea," he said absently.
Severus must have returned to his own reverie because he barely looked up from his own cup and saucer.
Harry lay on his back in bed attempting with all his might to not think about his hair anymore. He needed to do something, anything really. Maybe he could ask Malfoy if he fancied a game of Wizards Chess or Exploding Snaps? Merlin knew he didn't have any hair left to singe off.
A strangled, choking laugh, really more of an exhale, escaped him. Blimey but he was morbid. There was a knock on the door and Malfoy entered with a cup of tea and a contrite expression that was most out of place on his face.
Harry swung his legs so off the bed and sat up, "That for me?" he said, hoping his tone remained as casual as he wanted it to be.
"Yes, I thought we might all benefit," said Malfoy, as he passed Harry the cup, still looking awkward and apologetic.
Harry set the cup on his bedside table with a clink, "Thanks, Malfoy," he said simply, whatever animosity or guards he kept up with the other boy just no longer seemed like a useful effort. "Fancy a game of chess?" he asked as the silence grew awkward.
Malfoy nodded, but hesitated on leaving the room, something clearly on his mind.
"Well? Spit it out then? Have I got a funny looking head?" Harry looked at Malfoy, almost waiting for some sort of jeer and truly having no desire to fight back.
The other boy stammered, turning a light shade of pink in the cheeks, "N-no, I just, well the thing is-" Malfoy shook his head frowning, his pale skin and hollow cheeks were exaggerated in the light of Harry's room. Malfoy looked, for a moment, like the 11 year old on the train Harry had met 4 years ago, except this time it was like seeing how desperate for approval that small boy had really been.
"I wanted to say I'm sorry for what's happening to you, Potter," Malfoy blurted out at long last, "It's a shite thing to happen to anybody, and I know we aren't exactly the best of mates, but I figured I'd offer up something."
A warm, almost pleased feeling bloomed in Harry's chest. A reaction he had never had to Malfoy's words before. "Thanks," he said, a little bemused, "I reckon that's the nicest thing you've ever said to me, Malfoy."
An eye roll, then, "Alright let's go so I can beat your king to a bloody pulp."
Harry laughed and followed Malfoy to the sitting room, catching Snape's eyes as he did so.
Snape was looking at the pair of them, almost puzzled. He seemed to be caught between a sense of surprise and maybe pride. Harry had no doubt Draco's words were heard through the door, and he wondered if Snape's relationship with Malfoy would ever become something akin to a father and son.
He was oddly jealous of the prospect, the loss of Sirius and the relationship he had treasured so much, still weighing heavy on his heart. The thought did however remind him of Remus, who he missed very much and suddenly desperately wanted to see. "Can you get a message to Remus for me?" he asked Snape as Malfoy set up the chessboard on the coffee table, "I think I'd like to see him, sometime soon if he's not busy with-" he caught himself, still unsure if he should mention the Order of the Phoenix in front of Malfoy, "other stuff," he finished lamely. Snape understood, and nodded immediately.
"I will ask Dumbledore to contact him this evening," Snape said, as he moved from the kitchen table to the armchair beside the settee. "That move is unwise," he told Harry the moment Harry prodded his pawn to move up a space. Harry rolled his eyes, "No sideline commentary," he pointed a finger at Snape, "And no helping Malfoy win, I know you Slytherins like to get sneaky."
Professor Snape chuckled, but inclined his head, picking up a book and choosing to focus instead on the words there.
Malfoy immediately killed Harry's pawn with a bishop, leaving Harry to groan despairing, "Bollocks," he muttered, he already knew how this would go. Chess had never been his strong point.
The rest of the evening went on in such quietude. They had dinner, Snape leaving at one point to bother Dumbledore with Harry's message. As he went to bed that night Harry wondered when he'd hear back from Remus, what Remus had been up to, and if Remus would be just as jarred by Harry's hair, (or lack thereof) as Harry had been.
Regardless, Harry missed his friend, and, he supposed, craved the physical affection Remus was often inclined to give these days. He fell asleep and in his dreams, he looked exactly as he did before this wild summer had begun.
The next day was an abrupt return to normalcy. Snape had classes, Harry and Malfoy had schoolwork to be done, whatever they could accomplish of their lessons without the help of a teacher. They bickered back and forth here and there. Harry felt actually a little more peckish today than he had most days since his last infusion, unfortunately that usually indicated the next was due soon. Regardless he enjoyed what food didn't have the metal taste he had become accustomed to encountering while going through rounds of chemotherapy.
Snape came back that evening with more homework for them both, and a promise to help with their work after he had seen to some of his end of day tasks.
Harry was working on his charms essay, which was actually going alright, turned out being stuck with nothing to focus on but school work, Harry wasn't constantly attempting to skive off and procrastinate.
That did however indicate life was a great deal less interesting. However, considering he was free of the prickling scar and danger at every turn in exchange for fighting cancer and being unable to use magic, the trade off was pretty even.
He said as much to Malfoy, who snorted derisively.
"Your friends will be done to see you after dinner, Potter," Snape said, coming back out of his room dressed in a black button down shirt with the cuffs undone, and slacks, he rolled his sleeves up to his elbows as he walked into the kitchen and began making himself a bit of toast. "Did you eat today?"
Before Harry could respond, Draco piped up, "Yes, he was positively gorging himself all day," from the settee. Harry shot him a withering look, "Yes, I was actually hungry for once," he said, aiming a job of his elbow at Malfoy.
"When do I have to go back for my next round?" he asked, he knew there was no need to specify what "round" he spoke of.
Snape looked up from the parchment he was pouring over, "In just under two weeks time," he put down his toast, "Dumbledore spoke with Lupin, we arranged for him to take you to your next appointment.
Harry dreaded the appointment, but the idea of seeing Remus lifted his spirits, if only there was some way he could owl Remus himself, perhaps they may be able to keep up a more consistent form of communication, it got lonely in Snape's quarters when he was by himself. Malfoy had stayed home from classes today, but really on days he was feeling better he should be up at school actually attending in person. This was his 6th year for Merlin's sake, he couldn't just flag off everyday, although Harry knew he'd appreciate some company in those dreadful days following his chemo appointments.
The days flew by, and Harry found himself in the private space in the hospital wing, already sitting in his chair, Ms. Hemmingway flushing his port and working to get him connected to the rolling silver pole. Remus walked in looking haggard, new scar lines on his arms, yet somehow a small smile still on his face for Harry.
"Alright then, Harry?" Remus said brightly, he waved his wand and a chair formed right next to Harry's. Remus sat, already reaching over to squeeze Harry's shoulder and pat his arm. Despite the discomfort of the start of the drugs down the IV line, Harry grinned.
"Remus!" he said, perhaps a little louder than he had meant to, "I was wondering when you'd be here, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it, I know you must be busy." They both looked over at Ms. Hemmingway, Remus gave a tiny shake of his head, Harry hoped Remus would fill him in on the Order stuff after she left.
"Actually it's been rather quiet lately, not much to get up to in the Wizarding World as of late," said Remus, "But tell me all about you Harry, how are your studies? I'd be happy to help you while I'm here if you're struggling. Sixth year is quite tough if I remember correctly."
They chatted idly about Harry's course work, Remus never mentioned Harry's hat or lack of hair when Harry moved the beaning off his head some to scratch. Snape must have warned him, Harry thought, feeling a rush of gratitude for his professor.
Soon enough Ms. Hemmingway left with a promise to be back to check on him in a few hours, and Remus and Harry were, at last, alone.
Harry leaned forward excitedly, "So tell me then, what's been going on?" He hadn't heard anything of Voldemort lately at all, and he was really wondering if they were purposely leaving him out of the loop because he was sick.
Remus chuckled, "I was being honest, Harry, it really has been quiet. I truly have no news." He smiled kindly at Harry, whose eyes had narrowed in doubt, "Truly, Harry. Not a peep. Although," said Remus, his expression somewhat rueful, "I do have some news actually."
Harry straightened, "Well go on then," he pushed, when Remus didn't immediately complete his thought. Remus looked almost embarrassed, "I do have to apologize, Harry, for not coming sooner, you see, I've been a bit caught up."
Caught up...thought Harry, hadn't Remus just said all had been quiet? "You see," continued Remus, "Against my better judgement, and still I'm not quite sure I'm making the right decision, Nymphadora and I are- well, we're dating, I suppose the term would be."
Harry's jaw dropped. "You're kidding," he gasped. But the chagrined look on Remus' face told him otherwise. "Well why on earth do you look so glum about it," Harry prodded, "Tonks is cool."
Remus smiled and gave Harry a look as though he might think he was a bit silly, "Yes, yes she is. However, I am what I am. And I can't help but feel responsible for condemning her to a life of being outcast by the very world she works as an auror to protect."
Anger bubbled up in Harry's chest, and he meant to tell Remus just exactly what he thought of anyone who didn't love Remus as fiercely as he did, but alas, nausea overtook him.
They spent the rest of the appointment huddled over a bucket that Remus continuously vanished Harry's bile from.