Title: Forever on the Closed Ward

Author: Aelan Greenleaf

Category: Angst

Rating: K, Suitable for All

Summary: "I'm Harry. Harry Potter." the man smiled as he reached out a welcoming hand, "And who are you?" "Brian. Brian Harrison." the boy lied. He could feel the sadness rise in him as they shook hands, as if meeting for the first time.

Forever on the Closed Ward

Sometimes, he really hated coming here.

Most would think that a home for the incurably insane would be full of noise, of screaming and incessant chatter, of painful moaning and pitiful crying. However, since he could remember, it had been be quiet on the Closed Ward, silent as the lives of those who occupied it.

He knew the way; he had known the way always, it seemed. Past the portraits of old and beloved healers, past the pictures of the founding members of the hospital. His eyes lingered in particular on one of an ancient looking man, kindly and wise, bearded and wearing curious half-moon spectacles; the initials A.P.W.B.D stared back at him as he passed by the portrait of his namesake on the wall of perished wizard heroes.

The witch at the tiny reception desk was busy reading her copy of Musicians Weekly, but she knew him well and waved him through, barely looking up over the pages. He smiled, a little, to himself, as he took the handle in his hand and pushed the door open, revealing a surprisingly warm and sunny hall.

There were never many beds full in here, and somehow, that pleased him. The last stall at the end was occupied by a pale and painfully thin woman who always pressed bubblegum wrappers into his hands whenever he came by. Her husband had died long ago, his mother had told him, and she was more alone than ever. Abruptly, he felt his heart give a pang for her. He hoped she would sleep through his visit today.

Sometimes he would see a funny old man in here, with greying locks and a pocketful of pre-autographed photos. It had been a long time since he had seen him; the man had been released, it seemed, as his memory had returned enough to function in the real world. Brian was happy for him.

Finally, the last of the permanent residents lay in a bed near the centre of the large room; he had a large array of photographs around his bed, along with a stack of postcards and unopened letters. The man himself was laying in bed, absolute green eyes looking straight up to the sterile ceiling, black hair ruffled about his head.

"Hello." said Brian quietly, sitting down on the bed next to the man. He waited; he always waited.

The man looked away from the ceiling, slowly and deliberately. The sombre expression upon his face changed suddenly to a greeting smile, almost one of remembrance and happiness. However, sadly, Brian knew it not to be true.

"Hello!" exclaimed the raven-haired man, sitting up in his bed as the knowing look in his eyes disappeared. "I'm Harry. Harry Potter." The man smiled as he reached out a welcoming hand, "And who are you?" His dark eyebrows raised in a questioning glance, and for the second time, Brian felt a jolt form inside of him.

"Brian. Brian Harrison." the boy lied. He could feel the sadness rise within him as they shook hands, as if meeting for the first time. It wasn't going to be a good day, he could already tell; it was never a good day when he had to start out with lies.

"Ah! Well, pleased to meet you, Brian!" the man grinned yet again, and Brian tried to answer with one back, but it was too hard and it fell through. "Say, Brian, would you be able to tell me where exactly I am?"

Oh. No. It was one of these days, the ones where his memory was gone and the pain all came rushing back to the surface, so fast and so stinging. Almost, but not quite, Brian regretted coming today.

"You-you're in the Closed Ward, sir." Lies wouldn't do much at this point. They never did, on these days.

The smiled disappeared from Harry's face. "The Closed Ward? As in, St. Mungo's?"

The boy nodded.

"An-and what am I doing here?"

A shiver ran down Brian's spine. "You're sick." he answered, simply.

"And Ginny? Ron? Hermione? Are they okay?"

The devotion, the love and compassion for his friends and lover were always what threatened to bring Brian to tears. They were shadows of what the great Harry Potter used to be, he suspected. Before the Second War. Before the end of all things.

"Yeah, they're okay. They're safe, Harry."

A tiny smile pulled at the corners of the patient's mouth. "Oh, good," and he promptly dropped back down onto his pillow.

A long, immense moment passed, and when he finally thought it safe to approach, Brian got off of his bed and kneeled down on the floor, right next to Harry's bed.

"Sir?" he asked, not sure what he would encounter next.

A sigh escaped from beside him, and he knew now that he would remember, if only for a little while.

"Brian. Don't you ever tire of visiting me?"

Now Brian could feel the tears sliding down his cheeks. These moments of clarity were few and far in between, little snippets of a once great and heroic man. "No, Harry, I don't."

"Your mother; she doesn't visit me anymore. Why?"

"I don't think she can..." Brian stopped, not sure of how to explain, "I don't think she can see you this away, alone and forgotten. It makes her cry."

And Harry rolled over onto his side, and stared into the boy's bright hazel eyes. "You're crying, Brian, but you still come. You've always come."

The moment was fading away, and Brian didn't want it to end, not so fast. There were so many questions he wanted to ask, he'd always wanted to ask, about the people and the places and the lives long lost. He wanted to hear it all, from beginning to end, straight from the mind of the one that had been there.

But he couldn't, because that wasn't what the Closed Ward meant.

"Brian... I love you." whispered Harry, and the boy could see it in his eyes that he too knew that the clarity was leaving, that the eternal fuzziness of a mind driven insane by torture and guilt would return. "Please tell your mother I miss her." Harry rolled back over onto his back, and he locked his eyes back onto the empty sky above.

A barely audible whisper escaped his lips, directed to the starless ceiling above. "If I'd had a choice, son, it would have always been to be with you."

And then Harry Potter retreated to the endless confines of his own mind, and BrianArthur Potter was left alone in the silence of the Closed Ward.