Silence reigned as both men looked at each other in contemplation. "This can't go on Sev. By now it's pretty damn obvious that something is wrong, and we can't just keep ignoring the signs or waiting for him to trust us and come to us with his problems. If we left it up to him I'm almost certain we'd never get anywhere."
Severus sighed heavily and pinched the bridge of his nose in reply.
"What do you suppose we do then? Lock him in a room with us until he breaks and tells us what's wrong? We aren't equipped to deal with this Lucius, what can we conceivably do? We don't even know what's ailing him as the stubborn dunderhead won't deign to unburden himself to us."
"I know we're not prepared, believe me, I am more than aware of it, but you've seen the way he reacts around people, love. That is not normal or healthy behavior for a 15 year old; he should not flinch when he is approached unawares, he shouldn't look scared when men stand too close to him, and he shouldn't have nightmares so violent that his magic actively seeks to shield him even when he's so deeply unconscious that he can't even register four people bursting into his room and shouting. Yet this is what we're been faced with, and it's what we'll have to deal with. So for Merlin's sake Sev, please tell me you have some idea of what to do."
The potions master moved towards his husband and cupped his face gently, looking him in the eyes. "You know that I have no more idea of how to go about this than you do Lucius, I may have been Head of House for years, but I haven't ever dealt with a child quite like our Cerin. You know that abuse is extremely uncommon in the magical world, and I have been extremely fortunate in that none of my children have been abused, or if there were any issues they were fairly swiftly resolved. If what we suspect is true, then Cerin has been severely abused, and this was not a one time occurrence either."
Lucius frowned, his eyebrows drawing together in worry. "Don't frown" Severus said teasingly, using one long finger to smooth away the wrinkles. "You'll get wrinkles, and then I'll be the one never hearing the end of it, with you complaining every other hour that your looks are fading. You blasted Malfoys and your vanity!"
"Yes, yes, I know I'm a vainglorious idiot, but now's not the time. I can tell anyway that the path ahead will most not likely be smooth sailing from now on, and that our boys will be causing more wrinkles than my pride can properly handle."
"The question is what are we going to do? What's our plan?"
"First of all one of us needs to go check on Draco and make sure that he's all right, that it really is just a minor knock to the head and nothing more serious like a concussion. Then I'd suggest we talk to Narcissa and discuss what she has observed with Cerin. I've seen her observe him whenever we've all been together, and I'd bet good money that she's also seen some worrying behavior."
Lucius nodded in assent, and added his own thoughts. "After that one of us should stay in the room with him, although we should try and keep a good distance from him, as our presence often only seems to make him agitated. If he doesn't awaken or improve within the next hour I suggest we contact Poppy and have her come immediately."
The professor shook his head gently. "I don't think Poppy will be necessary Luc, all his vitals seem normal apart from the occasional readings which seem to be blocked, but the interference seems to be stemming from his own magic, which most likely means that it's nothing harmful. It might even be changes from his creature inheritance affecting the scan. Until he awakes we'll be kept guessing, but once he does, we should try and have a serious conversation about his erratic behavior and the faulty scans."
Lucius moved to the chaise longue in the corner of the room, motioning for Severus to come join him, and wrapping an arm around his shoulders when the younger man sat next to him; lightly resting his chin on the other man's head, and breathing in his heady sent of pine, parchment and ink.
"How do you think we should go about it? We don't want to seem threatening or accusatory, if it is as we think and someone he's been in contact with has been abusing or hurting him in some way; then we'll need to reassure him that he's not the in the wrong. That we won't punish him for having concealed the information, and most importantly to try and get him to open up to us."
Severus moved out of the comfort of his lover's arms and ran his hand through his hair in frustration. Turning away from Lucius he spoke softly.
"How do we get him to trust us? He's barely met you more than a handful of times in his life, and whenever he has you've normally been trying to harm him in some way. Whereas I on the other hand have only tried to humiliate him and render his life hell. Yes! this is the perfect basis for a trusting and loving father-son relationship."
Snorting bitterly, Severus stood up and started pacing the room quickly, his tread light on the plush carpet, and Valerius tracking his movements curiously.
"Fine" admitted Lucius slowly not moving from his seat, but turning to face his husband "We may not have gotten off to the best of starts, but that doesn't stop us from doing everything in our power to help him, love. If he has been abused we can find out who is responsible, make sure they are brought to justice for their crimes. We can help him heal. Even if we're not the ones he turns to and we need to procure the help of a mind healer, then so be it! But we will do our best for our child Sev, you will do everything in your power to earn that boy's trust back, and we will be there to support him through all the issues he is undoubtedly going through. And we can apologise! as many times as it takes to get through that notoriously thick head of his. We can be there for him everyday, until he understands that we won't leave him. Not now and not ever."
Severus closed his eyes wearily. "Do you think we should have Narcissa speak to him in our stead? He seems to be more comfortable with a female presence. Or does that make it seem like we don't want to be the ones to be there for him?"
"I think you're overthinking this." the blond chided mildly, taking Severus' hand as he stalked past once again, pulling him towards him and wrapping his arms around his wiast. "We can wait here until he regains consciousness and then inform him that we'd like to have a talk about a few things. Make sure that he's aware that he's not in any trouble and that he doesn't have to disclose anything to us if he's not comfortable. We can also give him the option of speaking to either one of us, or to Narcissa. In the event that he's reluctant to speak to any of us, we could offer to bring in an impartial third party in the form of a mind healer, if he so wished. But from what I've gathered with Cerin, he doesn't like to talk to strangers."
"His aversion to strangers would make sense given his dealings with the press, and the suspected abuse. My only concern is if he can't explain to us why his health scans are distorted or seem to be covering up some injury or other, then it may be necessary to intervene and call Madame Pomfrey. However I wouldn't want to betray his trust, if he had even confided such information to us in the first place."
The dark haired man acquiesced wearily. "While it's true that we should try and retain his trust, his immediate health should also be of utmost importance. If he's been running around injured all this time, then it needs to be addressed."
Silver eyes met brown as they had finally laid out a plan of what they had to do, and sought to accomplish. Lucius stood up gracefully albeit stiffly after the commotion of the last few days.
"I'll go check on Narcissa and our little Dragon. If he's healed I'll appraise Narcissa of the situation and our plan. You stay here and watch over him Sev, guard him well, although I'm sure nothing untoward will happen in my hopefully brief abscence. Send me a patronus if he wakes before I get the chance to come back."
With those parting words and a sweet kiss that was far too short for either of the men's liking he swept off into the hall, blond hair trailing behind him elegantly, glinting under the light of the moon.
AN: Hi, I'm sorry it's been so long. There really is no excuse, and I'm sorry I left you all waiting for ages. This fic was incredibly personal, and after a while I realised that it wasn't doing me any good to be writing it (yes I do realise this sounds like an excuse). However I'm back now, and I will try my best to update more regularly. I realise that my writing will probably have changed quite a bit, and the direction I plan to take this has changed a bit, but i hope you still enjoy my work. Many thanks, Amaryllis Fay.