A/N: Update woohoo! Thanks for waiting guys! I hope you like it!
Severus pinched the bridge of his nose as he apparated outside Malfoy Manor. The blond Patriarch had confessed to him the other day that Harry had been staying with them for the past week, almost as a ghost. They had been trying so hard to have him open up about his problems, about why he was with them and not Diggory but he, so far, only clammed up; leaving the others guessing as to what was wrong. They were worried when Harry stopped eating, stopped sleeping, and began wandering the halls. He perked up whenever the Dementor Lord would show up, but it was short lived and as soon as the elder creature would leave it was back to being a recluse.
Finally, they asked for Severus' help. And the potion's master had immediately agreed, concern for the student overwhelming him to the point of haste. The wards accepted him as he crossed the threshold of the manor gates and his face twisted into an uncharacteristic moue of concern when he spotted Draco shifting from foot to foot outside his home's rather ornate oak doors. The Malfoy heir spotted him and he had such a look of relief on his features that the Head of Slytherin House instantly became wary.
"Uncle Sev, hurry please! He just collapsed! His magics won't let any of get close to him and we can't find Atropos!" he cried out, leaping forward to grasp his godfather's hand and tugging him inside the buiding.
The bottom dropped out of Severus' stomach and his long legged stride quickly took him to the room that Draco informed him as Harry's. He had dropped his godson's hand a ways back, his inexplicable fright over the wellbeing of his younger student coursing through him. Why? Why this incessant need to protect the child? Was it really all centered around his friendship and promise to Lily? He was beginning not to think so.
Outside of the room stood Lucius and Narcissa, the latter of which was sobbing in the patriarch's arms. Grey eyes narrowed on Severus as Lucius' head snapped up when he rounded the corner. The older male gave his best friend a pained noise, garnering the attention of his wife, who spotted the potion's master and her sobs renewed in intensity.
"Tell me." he snarled, impatient to have the facts before helping Harry.
Lucius scowled but the fear in his silver eyes lessened the harshness of the action. He drew his body up straight, running a shaking hand through his hair.
"He's been with us since the night after the Cup. Atropos brought him over and despite not giving a reason as to why he was now requesting a place to stay, we accepted him whole heartedly. But these last few days, he's been steadily wilting and other than the one visit from Atropos that had him practically glowing, he just won't eat much and he hardly sleeps. Today he was helping one of our house elves clean and he just collapsed. When we got him to this room his magic lashed out and we have been unable to enter. We have been unable to find Atropos so we contacted you." there was desperation in the Malfoy Lord's voice and it broke Severus' heart.
The only other time he had seen Lucius with such a loss of his Malfoy Mask was the time Draco had the dragon pox and when Narcissa had pneumonia. Drawing himself up, the dour man nodded his head and turned his attention to the room that encased Harry and stepped beyond the threshold; surprisingly finding no resistance. He stopped, stunned, when he spotted Harry on the bed. Gone was the vibrant child he had begun to know and cherish. In his place was a thin child, mostly skin and bones. His scars on his neck appeared rough and his skin a deathly pale. His breathing was coming in shallow gasps and his magic was whipping around him like a great hydra. Despite its erratic undulating, it caressed Severus' magic with a kind touch. Inquisitive. It was in total contrast to the apparent distress creasing the child's face.
Severus swiftly made his way across the room to the boy's side, determination set in his very being. He cast a quick diagnostic spell and cursed at what he found. Severe malnutrition, exhaustion, and an overdose of pills- likely the very same Luna supplied to the teen.
What had happened to cause Harry to give up so easily? He needed to know. That is why, as he tilted the child's head, he locked eyes with those newly pried open green orbs and delved inside Harry's mind. He sifted through the boy's memories with great care until he came to the night of the Quidditch match and his heart stopped. When it started again, a snarl of rage bubbled at his throat, begging to be loose. The nerve of that Shadow Demon pissant! Taking something so precious and tainting it with his doubts of Harry's fidelity. He felt as if his heart were being clenched in a vise. He had failed once more to protect the child he'd been instructed to care for. He discovered, as well, why the Dementor Lord had yet to show his face. Harry, in a fit of despair, had closed off his half of the bond.
Sighing in resignation he glared at the memory of Cedric Diggory's cold eyes before he resolutely opened the bond and waited for the Dementor to appear. They had a lot to discuss it seemed. He wasn't disappointed as a great crack echoed through the room and a bitter cold he'd never experienced before pulsated throughout the space. Severus flinched when brittle green eyes locked with his own before they trailed to the child on the be, whose magic had yet to cease its snake like movements.
Atropos' brows furrowed, instantly at his mate's side, concern fairly vibrating from his form. He roughly gripped Harry's hair and tilted the boy's head to the side before staring into Harry's still partially revealed eyes. After a few moments Atropos clucked his tongue in irritation before pulling away and gentling the rough hold he had on his mate. He wrapped his magic around his little one's magic and sighed as Severus added his own into the mix to help calm Harry's erratic core.
"I have been trying to show him that he was loved despite what the Shadow Demon did, but he hasn't been taking it as well as I had hoped." Atropos winced while he berated himself for not being able to see his mate's distress and yet knowing Severus didn't need to have the situation explained.
Severus shook his head, pleased when Harry's magic finally calmed and the child eased himself into a fitful sleep.
"No, you helped him. However whenever he was left alone to ruminate on everything he was sucked back into it all over again. I suggest we put him in rehabilitation type regimen so that he can truly begin to heal from this." the Lytis demon stated as he brushed at a stray strand of hair.
Atropos readily agreed, willing to do anything to show his mate that he wasn't alone. That he wasn't the filth that everyone in his past continually accused him of being. With Cedric, Blaise, and Luna at his side, his cutting and substance abuse had been controlled. Monitored. But here, among people he considered close but not family, the pain had grown and so had the problem. Atropos felt guilt thrum through him at the thought of so badly failing his mate. No matter what anyone said, Harry should have been watched, but he'd believed Harry when the boy had boldly stated he was alright.
A whine escaped the Dementor Lord and he crawled into the bed to lay beside his beloved, trailing a hand that shook down his love's chest; attempting to soothe his disturbed nerves. He vowed to always be available for his little one from then on. Even when the child stated he was fine. He wanted his happy fun loving Harry back and he would do all he could to fix it so that that happened.
"Why was all of this not dealt with sooner?" Atropos finally inquired, voice sounding broken and lost.
Severus twitched when those Avada Kedavra green eyes focused on him briefly before swiveling back to the Dementor Prince. There was so much sorrow in that gaze that closely mirrored his own and he didn't understand why it ran so deep.
"No one could enter the room until I come. They all had been trying to get him to feel better for days before he collapsed." the Lytis demon explained.
The Dementor frowned in thought before scowling out right, his fists clenched in sudden self disgust. Their bond. He'd forgotten all about it progressing now that the boy was older and accepted both sides of Atropos equally. When the actual bond thread was in place (and it had to have happened without either of them noticing as it was different than the emotional bond that the shared previously) the two of them would need their constant contact or the submissive would pine for its mate and die.
Bloody sodding hydra testicles. What was he a fledgling? To have forgotten something so important he might as well be. His brother was never going to stop taking the piss out of him on this one. Harry might not forgive him for forgetting either. He wouldn't blame him.
As to why only Severus could ever, side from him…Atropos smirked half heartedly, debating on whether or not he should tell the younger male his suspicions. Maybe. Nah, let the youngling figure it out on his own.
" What should be done about Diggory?" I know Harry won't want him killed but child needs to see what he did to our little one, Snape. You think your Lord will help in these matters?" he brushed his lips against the bit of flesh peeking out from beneath Harry's shirt, feeling the bond as it settled contentedly.
The Lytis demon nodded after a few moments of thought.
" Yes let's discuss this with our Lord and possibly Barty and Black. I hate to admit it but both were outstanding pranksters in our childhood and could possibly help with a non-lethal punishment." Snape replied, handing Atro a few vials that he had stowed into his pocket when he had heard of Harry needing help." These are for him. I'll start him on nutrition potions tomorrow and another to help him cleanse toxins from his body so that he won't go through with drawl."
Atropos nodded agreeing to both the sexual demon's assessment and suggestions. He turned his attention back to his quietly murmuring mate and snuggled closer before yawning lightly.
"I'll talk to the Malfoy's and assure them that Harry is getting help. I take it that not just an overdose occurred to cause this state?"
The flush of embarrassment that crept into the dementor's face brought a snort of morbid amusement from with in the dark professor.
"When Harry came to me after …"he paused and grit his teeth, " he accepted my creature form in its entirety. A bond - one of our final ones, as there is only one more- was formed and we were then connected on a deeper level than our previous emotional bond. I was unaware of this though until just a few minutes ago. Submissives have been known to die if they aren't with their bonded near constantly until it fully cements within their cores."
Severus sighed, not knowing whether to be amused at the centuries old creature's blunder or annoyed that such a juvenile mistake was made in the off. He settled for a happy medium and rubbed his temples.
"That would explain his euphoria when you were around and his near despondent catatonia when you were gone." The potions master stated, understanding now that all of the pieces clicked together.
Atropos looked away, choosing instead to keep his head on his mate's chest while he listened to the boy's heartbeat. Severus snorted but allowed the Dementor Lord to sulk. He couldn't say he wouldn't be doing the same if their roles were reversed.
"Everyone makes mistakes, Atropos. Even beings as old as yourself." the Slytherin calmly reminded, amused when he received a mild glare at the 'old' comment.
Finally, Atropos sighed and relaxed, drifting off and secure in the knowledge that Severus would set everything up so that they could all begin healing their beloved friend when said child awoke.
" I'll go talk to the Malfoy's and set up that meeting." quietly informed Severus who left as soon as Atro nodded sleepily.
When the younger male was gone, Atropos pressed gentle kisses to the chest he lay on.
"Hang on, Little Death. Everything will be ok soon."