AN: I'll explain my extended absence at the end, but I hope you're all having a lovely day and I hope you enjoy the chapter!
Same warnings apply.
Later, when Draco awoke in the middle of the night, his heart was beating a mile a minute and skin was crawling as if he was covered in spiders. He sat up slowly, trying to remember what his nightmare was about, but it seemed to be hidden somewhere in the back of his mind. Despite this, he had a feeling of wrongness that hinted that something horrible had happened.
He lay back down and closed his eyes, but his stomach refused to stop turning with the weight of repressed memories. The psychiatrist at the hospital told him that was normal- the more damaging parts of the past few weeks had been hidden away by his brain in an effort to protect him from the nearly unbearable psychological pain that came with them.
After a few minutes of this, he remembered another piece of advice from earlier that day- or… yesterday, he corrected, looking at the clock. It was two o'clock in the morning. He wasn't supposed to stay in bed when he couldn't sleep. He was supposed to get up and distract himself until he started to feel tired.
Draco had thought that he couldn't get bored with reading- after all, it was what he used to do all summer at Malfoy Manor- but he was beginning to lose interest in it after days of reading the same book. He didn't mind that it was muggle, it was just so long. Wizarding books were thicker, but many were written in script, so there were fewer words on each page. He was beginning to think he might need glasses with the small size of the print in muggle books.
Sighing, he kicked his blankets off and made the trek downstairs to the library. He wasn't supposed to take sleep medication unless he really needed to because of how easily it is to become dependent on the drug.
He curled up on one of the couches, staring into the fire. He kept thinking about Harry, alone in the hospital, and his hand, and the upcoming school year, and his therapy appointment tomorrow…
He exhaled slowly, fighting the sensation that a rock had landed in his lungs. Standing up again, he paced the room a few times, running his fingers over the spines of the books to calm down. He didn't realize he was crying until the tears reached his neck, dampening his collar. Every emotion that he'd been stifling for the past days with everything that had happened, all the fear from the random panic attacks and the confusion from his dream, crashed down on him. As sobs racked his body, he slid down with his back against a shelf, completely overwhelmed.
Stone dug into his back, scraping against a few healing lash marks on his shoulder blades as he rolled over. He dragged himself into a seated position despite the weakness in his body from malnutrition. Footsteps were echoing down the long hallway and he refused to let them enter the room to see him weak and vulnerable.
Then they were on top of him, dragging him by his shoulders and hair, and he was in the center of the cell. There were hands everywhere, covering his mouth and holding knives to his skin slicing his flesh as if he was a piece of meat being fought over.
He was submerged in water, being drowned, he was sure. His fingers struggled at the ground beneath him, around the bucket that his head was held in. He welcomed the blackness as it crept into the edges of his vision, but he was pulled from the water at the last second, oxygen flooding his lungs as he gasped. Death had escaped him once again. He didn't deserve it, they reminded him constantly. Death was a reprieve that he was not to be granted.
He deserved the pain. It was his fault, after all. Everything was his fault.
Waking was like being plunged back into the water, except this time it was fear and depression drowning him. He took a few deep breaths to calm himself before lying back again, staring at the ceiling lights that were dimmed now. Misery consumed his mind and pressed down on his chest. He wanted to cut so badly, but could sense eyes on him somewhere in the room without even looking up.
He drifted in and out of sleep for the rest of the night, trying to stifle his thoughts with his pillow pressed unceremoniously over his head. When he awoke to light streaming through the windows of the room, he sighed and hid his face away yet again, ignoring the nurse who brought a platter of breakfast for him. All he wanted was to be alone.
"Mister Potter?" A voice asked. He jerked his head up, having not noticed anyone enter the room. It was a healer, wearing thin blue robes. He had a kind smile on his face that Harry met with a scowl, which he vainly tried to wipe off. He nodded silently.
"My name is Healer Smith. I'm here to take your vitals and check the healing of your wounds." He bustled around to the side of the bed, a piece of parchment attached to the clipboard he was carrying. When he pointed his wand at Harry (warranting a small flinch), a quill began scribbling rapidly across the parchment, reminding him of the Quick Quotes Quill used by Rita Skeeter in his fourth year. Healer Smith set down the clipboard and turned back to Harry.
"Can I please see your wrist?"
Harry hesitated before reluctantly extending his right arm to the healer, who carefully unwrapped the bandages. He finally got a good look at what he'd done to himself now that his head was clear. The gash was close to six inches long and deeper than he'd ever gone before, lined with stitches and swollen.
"Since the wounds are self-inflicted, they cannot be healed by magic, so the recovery will be slow," the healer explained. "Some more advanced potions can speed the healing process, but I'm sure your guardian would know more about that than I."
Guardian. Guardian? Surely the subject of conversation wasn't Snape. The thought was chased from his head when Healer Smith prodded at one of the stitches, making him wince in pain.
Noticing this, the healer rewrapped the bandages with practiced expertise and repeated the process with the other wrist. Since Harry was right-handed, his left wrist was in worse shape, evidence of the more controlled wielding of the blade.
Healer Smith examined the blood that had soaked through the bandage, then the injury itself, where two of the stitches had been ripped. Then he turned his eyes on Harry, who averted his gaze to the wall.
"Mister Potter, I will not judge you or ridicule you for the actions that you have taken to cope, but I must ask if you have attempted to reopen this wound."
Harry shrugged, and the healer seemed to understand the unspoken response, wrapping the bandage tightly before drawing his wand again and tapping it against the material covering the cuts with a muttered spell.
Then he stood. "You have two visitors waiting for you outside. Shall I let them in?"
Harry sighed but nodded. Draco and Snape must have returned. In the moment of solitude that he was given, he tugged at the edge of the bandage, but the spell seemed to have adhered it to the skin. He groaned angrily at the loss of his one form of release.
"Harry, darling, my goodness." He looked up at the sound of a woman's voice. Mrs. Weasley?
Molly and Ginny crossed the room hesitantly, and he accepted a hug from the former before pulling his knees up to his chest in a protective position and staring at the two of them as they sat. Ginny had tears in her eyes as she picked at the arm of her chair.
"We're so glad to see that you're okay, Harry," she whispered. "Dumbledore told us what happened."
Harry was internally fighting with himself, debating the consequences of talking. He didn't want their judgment, or their help- he was sick of people thinking that they understood him when there was too much that they didn't know.
"It's okay if you don't want to talk to us, dear," Mrs. Weasley said quickly. "He told us that might happen."
He nodded, looking down again and gnawing on a nail.
"We... Well, we came here for two reasons. We wanted to let you know that if you ever wanted to come and stay with us you'd be welcome. I know that your current arrangement isn't ideal-"
Ginny laughed, though she looked near tears. "Who made that decision? For Merlin's sake, I can't imagine being stuck with Snape and Malfoy."
"Ginny, please. I know how you feel about Professor Snape, but he's been very generous to take in Harry and Draco. This whole situation is unfortunate and Professor Dumbledore is doing his best with the resources that he has."
Ginny rolled her eyes and looked pointedly at Harry, who had been watching the exchange silently. Then she seemed to remember something and looked away, her face falling.
Mrs. Weasley just shook her head and looked back at Harry sadly. "The second thing… well, it's about Ron." Dread settled in his stomach and he stared at her, willing her to go on.
"When… when you were taken, the Order sent out as many people as they possibly could to look for you. Ron insisted on going, so we finally agreed. We paired him with Alastor Moody, the most experienced auror at our disposal, and sent them off on a thestral." Her voice cracked.
"Another pair found their bodies four days later." Harry clapped his hands over his mouth, his mind going numb as she continued. "They must have run into a group of Death Eaters. Alastor was killed by the Avada Kedavra curse, and Ron was knocked off of the thestral in a body-bind." Harry rocked forward, his stomach rolling with nausea at the thought of his best friend pummeling to the earth, helplessly watching the ground grow closer.
"It would have been quick," Ginny whispered, crying in full now. Harry's eyes did not move from the sheets of his bed, but he heard something shatter next to him as his magic lashed out. He only comprehended snippets of the next few minutes. A door opened and he was vaguely aware of movement around him.
"-Added stress could be harmful to the-"
"-Harry, please stay in contact-"
Then, a door closed and there was silence. His heartbeat was ringing in his ears and he couldn't help but think that it shouldn't be there at all.
AN: Um, so it's been... 6ish months? I'm really sorry for leaving you all hanging and I want to thank you for continuing to read and follow and review this story. Your support has been so wonderful and reassuring and I'm so grateful.
Basically, for those of you who don't know, I struggle with depression, anxiety, and disordered eating. The last few months (well, let's be real- the last few years) have been really hard for me and my level of functioning has been quite low. I've been expressing myself through the story (Draco's panic attacks, Harry's self harm and depression) and around the time that Harry attempted suicide was when my suicidal thoughts really peaked and I started seriously considering it for the first time. Don't be concerned, I've started medication and I'm feeling so so much better. I just wanted to give a little explanation about why I haven't been updating and to let you guys know that if any of you are suffering, it will get better. If you need support or someone to talk to, please PM me (I'm not just saying that, you actually should if you ever need anything). I'd also highly recommend the website 7CupsOfTea if you want to chat with a listener anonymously for free.
Anyway, I hope that this explains my absence. I hope to be updating much more often in the future (especially since summer is coming up) and if you have any ideas, inspiration, music, etc for the story feel free to review or PM me.
P.S. Please follow, favorite, and/or review! :)