It took two weeks for Draco Malfoy to crack.
There was nothing but a grim feeling of triumph afterward, and it only lasted a moment or so until the gravity of it all struck: weighing heavily onto their shoulders, easing them quickly into the despair that always descended and never truly ended. Ron did not laugh the way he'd expected to, did not even look at Harry - Harry, wiping his glasses, disturbed. The whites of his eyes were glittering madly, his hands shaking where they lay on the table. "R-Ron? You go on," he murmured, "I can't do this anymore."
Both he and Ron stared expectantly at their prisoner - a crown of blood, a bit of crust at the corner of a crooked mouth - waiting to see what he would do. There was no movement but the steady drip-drip droplets from the faucet, and Harry turned to go, hunching his shoulders. Draco did not even laugh, as he usually did when Harry faltered. He merely watched them with the same milky dead eyes; playing with the chains around his wrists, hardly aware that part of his thumb was gone. "Yes, Potter, run along," he said, half to himself and half to the wall.
"I don't know what I'm supposed to do with you now," said Ron, disgusted. "You've already told us everything we needed to know."
"Oh, have I, then? In that case, I'd like a lemonade."
"I'm not your slave." The words hung as if on a guillotine; in the silence, Draco laughed with little mirth.
"Youwere my slave; I see no difference in you between now and then, really. It seems as if I only sold you to another driver - Harry treats you exactly the same way my father did."
Ron opened his mouth to speak, but bit his tongue instead - staring unhappily into his hands, hardly able to think clearly. He could not remember being a captive in the Malfoy house at all, but this was mainly because most of the time he'd been locked away in the attic with the spiders - and you really did lose track of the days. ...Especially if you spent them with your face against the wall, trying to ignore the noises around you, the filth that grew over you like a film; the frightening noises downstairs. Screaming and all of that, thumps in the night,apparating, breaking windows.
"All he did was leave me to die," Ron spat. "In his own attic."
"Really? I wouldn't know. I wasn't there half the time, Weasley; I was busy putting down Granger."
That night, Ron sat fitfully in front of a mirror, counting the scars with Harry's used toothpick. He felt useless and old and rather like a toy, but without a remedy it was useless to worry about the disease; and so he did not cry or even think of Draco and what he had said, pushing the war entirely from his mind. The joyous yellow of the curtains and the bedspread had never seemed so inappropriate, but the shape of Harry's body beneath the coverlet was sharp and hurt, perfect for the times. He felt as if someone were filing at his heart, but acknowledged that this was a normal thing and not to be worried about.
Ron had never missed Hermione more in his life, and if things were easier he would have gotten up and written a letter to her parents - but he couldn't bring himself to, the idea of telling them the news somewhat sickening. Instead, he focused on the frightening gash between his shoulder blades: trying to remember how he had gotten it.
"I wonder how Remus is doing," said Harry absently. "I really do. I haven't heard from him."
Ron grunted a reply, counting his ribs.
"What are you doing?"
"Inspecting," he said, as if it were a perfectly normal thing to do.
They ate breakfast in front of Draco, who was more awake than the both of them put together: asking simple questions about what had been in the Daily Prophet.He did not even try snapping at Harry -speaking civilly, syllables rising and falling like tides. Ron sat listening to them talk for a few minutes - hard jaws, both so square- but could not even look the captive in the eyes without wondering if he'd had them open or shut when Hermione was dying, if she'd harmed him, if she'd even known he was there. Avada kedavra.Like a muggle wreck, twisting metal. The worst of it all was the softening of Harry's eyes now, as if Draco were starting to appear human in the chains; but Ron could do nothingand only scratched irritably behind his ear, grunting that he could not eat breakfast with a murderer.
"You're always eating breakfast with one," Malfoy said. "You sleep in his bed, too, I bet."
The soft in Harry's eyes immediately died.
"How many murderers' beds did you sleep in?" Ron asked, smiling insolently.
"...What makes a man a murderer?"
"Answer your own question," grunted Harry.
Draco grinned. "We're all killers now, Potter, so what makes one man a murderer and another your next door neighbor - the good fellow?"
"Shut up," Ron said through a forkful of eggs. "We don't care."
Harry went to shut off the faucet; moving as if trapped in a camera, slow, deliberate, freezing frame.
"Might as well call us all human and be done with it," Draco laughed. "Oh, do warn me when you're coming to kill me, Weasley, later on."