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The Girl in the Tower
Chapter Eleven: The Boiling Point
Harry awoke to the sound of voices, whispering in the dim of the hospital wing. He was flat on his back, still a little sore, but feeling much better. Turning his head, he peered into the darkness, searching the vast room for Sara. Surely, that was her whisper he heard. His eyes fell on her silhouette as she sat on the edge of Malfoy’s bed, still wearing her party dress, and the two of them were deep in discussion. Her back was mostly to the room, but Harry could tell she was toying with the Fortificus Charm around her neck.
Jealousy enveloped him as Sara clutched it, ran her finger along the lacy filigree. He remembered her astonishment when they’d opened it in the bathroom together. She’d touched it then, too, and looked at him with a questioning. He hated that he’d given her the orb. The only birthday gift out of the dozens she’d received that had nearly been the end of every person she loved, himself included. The greatest wizard alive had nearly blinked out of existence. Dumbledore. Her uncle!
Malfoy, on the other hand, had given her jewelry of the rare and expensive variety. The kind of gift that means something. Unlike a crystal ball. Especially a dangerous crystal ball. He felt certain she would never forgive him. She would say she did, but the memory would linger forever, like a scar.
Harry turned his head to Hermione in the next bed, sleeping and peaceful, thanks to one of Snape’s dreamier potions instead of the standard children’s formula normally given to students. Ron was in bed with her, to no great surprise, stretched out behind her under the covers with his arm slung around her slim frame. Hermione lay on her side, knees pulled up, elbows bent. Her hand curled into Ron’s larger one.
Harry sighed as he looked on his two best friends. That was his other disastrous inclination of the night. Yelling at Ron, accusing him of letting Hermione come to harm while they were outnumbered and without magic. And to be wrong on top of that! Hermione hadn’t collapsed due to any injury, though she had been hurt. Hermione had passed out because, Harry was surprised to learn, she couldn’t stand the sight of blood.
His eyes found Sara again, only this time she spoke with a soothing tone, a comforting hand on Draco’s arm. He wished he could make out what they were saying, but given Malfoy’s popularity with the Gryffindors, Madam Pomfrey had put him all the way across the room. He didn’t need to spend the night, not for a sprained ankle, but he’d insisted on staying and Madam Pomfrey was too preoccupied to argue.
Harry hadn’t spoken to Draco since they’d left the tower and his anger rose at the sight of her hand on him. He hated that Sara had accepted Draco’s apology. He was even a little sorry he’d given Malfoy his blood. True, it had saved several lives, including his own and Dumbledore’s, but now Harry owed him. He was certainly indebted to the worst creep at Hogwarts, there was no question, but what Harry really wanted was answers. And for things to go back to normal. He didn’t want a friend in Draco Malfoy.
He also wanted to crush the Fortificus Charm into a thousand pieces. He hated it, even though it benefited Sara. His blood side-by-side with Malfoy’s around anyone’s neck would be bad enough, but not hers. He didn’t want Draco or his Slytherin blood anywhere near Sara. Him or his expensive, beautiful, impeccably thoughtful gift. A gift he knew Harry couldn’t afford. Seeing them whispering together in the light of a single candle and making physical contact, no matter how innocent, brought an edge to his usually placid countenance.
“Inflamare.” His candle came to life, casting a warm glow on his features and masking his anger. They turned toward him at once and Harry noticed how good they looked together. Blonde, striking and blue eyed, fine featured and with flawless, porcelain skin. They could be brother and sister. (But they weren’t.) The tips of her fingers, he saw, touched the charm around her neck.