Not While I'm Around
Work in Progress. Rated R in later chapters. AU. Unbetaed.
"And this… is Harry," the woman said quietly, looking at the young man sitting on the window sill and staring out into the sky. Draco lifted his head and studied him for a moment, from the messy black hair and the round glasses to his insecure and helpless posture. The boy's brows were furrowed, his handsome features worried, and he had a general air of sadness and hopelessness around him. Draco frowned slightly and turned his head towards the nurse who looked as thoughtful as he had mere moments before.
"What's wrong with him?" Draco asked seemingly indifferent but he couldn't quite manage to mask his curiosity. He looked back at the boy; he had no visible injuries and the fact that he was on the Mental Ward of the hospital told Draco that he had something serious, maybe even incurable.
"He's…," the nurse started, then hesitated, blue eyes fixating Draco. "He's the Boy Who Lived."
Draco's head shot immediately back to her and he looked at her incredulously. "What? You mean… that's the boy who survived the attack from the Dark Lord?" Draco looked back to the boy, now even more interested in finding out more about this young man. He didn't look special and yet he'd achieved what no one else had been able to do before him. He'd survived Avada Kedavra and he'd defeated Lord Voldemort when he'd been just a baby. Why he wasn't a celebrity was beyond Draco.
"Yes. Harry Potter. Son to Lily and James. Poor thing," she sighed, rubbing her neck absentmindedly.
"What… I mean… what's wrong with him? There hasn't been anything about him in the Prophet since he was a kid. Is he all right?" Draco asked, then realized that what a ridiculous question that was. If he had been in St. Mungo's all this time he obviously was not all right. It made sense. Even though he had survived the killing curse, it was bound to cause some damages.
The nurse sighed again and leaned against the counter, giving Draco her full attention. "He's… it's a difficult case. Technically he's in perfect health. He grew up completely normal, physically. His height and weight are okay for his age… even though he's a little skinny. What's more worrisome is his mental state. His brain is in perfect condition, his IQ even especially high, as we've found out with numerous spells. But the Avada Kedavra He Who Must Not Be Named used on him has somehow made him… hide in his mind. He lives his life passively, eats when we feed him but he doesn't react to anything. He hasn't spoken a word since he got here, we don't even know if he can speak. When he looks at you, it's like he doesn't see you. It's a very special case and something like this has never happened before. Obviously, since no one else has ever been hit by an Avada Kedavra and survived to tell the tale." She sighed and shook her head. "Poor boy."
Draco considered this for a moment, adjusting his glasses on his nose. "You mean, he's basically all right, just… trapped inside his mind?" Draco inquired, trying to understand what she was telling him. He had never heard of a similar case and was more than a little intrigued.
She nodded. "Yes, something like that. He's not difficult to handle. He doesn't talk but seems to understand us. He obeys -- eats. He just never really reacts to anything we say. No matter how we say it, no matter how often we say his name. It's a frustrating case and I deeply feel for the boy. Many healers have given up on him and we're looking for someone who won't. He needs stability, someone to look after him. The Healers have given up on him, and decided that if he hasn't come out of his own little world yet, he probably never will. It's almost like he's in a coma. But despite everything the Healers say, I can't help but hope that someday we'll find a way to bring him back. He's such a sweet thing."
Draco frowned as he noticed the thick tear rolling down her cheek. If he were the touchy-feely kind of guy he would probably hug her now and offer some comforting words, but honestly… First, he was a Malfoy and second, he definitely wasn't going to hug a complete stranger just because she was a little too emotionally attached to her patients, which frankly shouldn't even happen in the first place. He knew that that would never happen to him. He didn't care for anything but himself, and some close friends. In that way, Draco was the perfect Healer. He rarely attached any emotion to anyone or anything; he had the perfect ability to stay independent and detached, and was therefore much more capable than everyone else on the program. This didn't mean that he wouldn't do what's best for his patients. It only meant that he was reasonable and could keep a clear head while other people got emotional.
"Can I meet him?" he asked quietly, pulling the woman out of her current state of pity and despair. Honestly. She nodded briefly, then walked up to the window slowly as to not startle the young man. Draco followed her, looking at him curiously. When he got closer, he could see the distinct scar on the boy's forehead. So this was it. This was the only visible sign of the Avada Kedavra curse. The legendary lightning-shaped scar. Draco had to admit that it bore some fascination for him.
"Harry?" The woman asked. Draco tried to remember her name but couldn't quite figure it out. Not that it really mattered to him as he wasn't planning on befriending the older woman. But it would maybe be a good idea to actually know the names of his co-workers. His eyes dropped to the sign that was attached to her robes. Ah. Abigail. Not even knowing why he was wondering about something so completely insignificant at this particular moment, Draco shook his head and looked back at the boy a few feet away from him.
He didn't stir as the woman said his name. He didn't seem to even realize that someone was talking to him. Draco frowned, feeling something inexplicable in his chest but he couldn't quite make out what it was. He watched the boy curiously as the woman – Abigail said his name again.
"Harry, there's someone I want you to meet," she said softly, reaching out to softly place a hand on Harry's shoulder. At this, the boy jumped a little and slowly turned his head towards her, a sad, vacant expression on his surprisingly handsome features. Abigail bit her lip, obviously still not used to the way the boy was behaving. She cleared her throat and forced a smile onto her face. "This is Draco, Harry," she said, moving her head slightly in Draco's direction and looking at him expectantly.
Harry stared at – or rather through her for some more seconds before slowly turning his head to Draco. He seemed to look at his chest for a moment before glancing up at his face. Draco's breath hitched as Harry's eyes seemed to actually focus on him for a few moments, a somewhat curious glint in them. It was extremely quiet for that brief moment, and the nurse seemed to hold her breath as well. Then, as quickly as the moment had come, Harry's eyes drifted off again and turned back to the window.
Draco stared at the boy; the extremely intense look the boy had given him affecting him strangely. He let out the breath he didn't know he'd been holding before turning back to Abigail and momentarily forgetting about his well-practiced Malfoy-mask; surprise and confusion evident on his sharp features. He saw the exact same look (without the handsomeness, of course) reflected on the woman's face, and by the way her mouth was opening, she seemed to want to say something but not quite knowing how to.
"Did… he just…," she started, staring at Draco with uncovered surprise, apparently expecting him to finish her sentence. Draco schooled his features and raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow, shrugging and nodding.
"He seemed to focus there for a second, yes," he answered quietly, his eyes yet again seeking the tiny boy's frame. He wanted to reach out and touch Harry, try to make him look at him again. But he didn't, because Harry's flinch at Abigail's unexpected touch hadn't escaped Draco's notice, and for some unfathomable reason, the last thing he wanted to do was to make Harry uncomfortable.
"Wow," Abigail breathed, and Draco was forced to look at her again, as she didn't elaborate. He waited for a few seconds, watching her face intently.
"This… is a big deal, you know," Abigail finally said, looking at him thoughtfully. "He hasn't shown any response to anyone. At all. People have been here to visit him," she explained, softly touching Draco's arm and leading him away from Harry. "People who should meant something to him and have gotten through to him. Remus Lupin and Sirius Black who is Harry's godfather, and a close friend of the late James Potter, for once. And Headmaster Dumbledore who visits him at least once a week. He's tried everything but nothing even remotely works. We always figured that if Professor Dumbledore who, undoubtedly is the most powerful wizard in our society, couldn't find anything to get Harry out of his little world, no one. This… was really unexpected."
She was still looking at him with that same contemplative look which irritated Draco to no end. He could see that she was working something out in her mind but he couldn't really figure out what could be going on in that pretty head of hers.
"That doesn't make sense," Draco said then, and frowned. When she kept her eyes on him, he scowled. "Would you mind telling me why you're staring at me like that? It's quite rude, you know? Do I have something on my face?" he asked haughtily, trying to use his best Malfoy glare to get her to talk to him. If there was one thing he couldn't stand, it was people who expected him to read his mind. True, he was good at Legilimency but he had the decency not to use it on defenseless people. He was pleased to see that she had the good grace to blush but she still didn't avert her eyes from him.
"Sorry. It's just…would you…I mean... This really was a big step. I don't know what it means but we should definitely look into it, and try to figure out what this means... Say, Mister Malfoy, would you be interested in taking over the case? We might be on to something here."
Draco raised a thin, blond eyebrow in a way that he knew made many people uneasy. Secretly he couldn't believe his luck. He had only just passed the exam to be a Healer at St. Mungo's and he knew that at such an early stage of a Healer's career, he wasn't supposed to be trusted with such a huge case, no matter how promising he, or this new development, was. Most people who started to work here got to do the nasty work, like emptying the bedpans or giving medication potions to the patients. House elf work, basically. Draco was still stunned silent at the prospect of being able to work on an actual case instead of getting his hand dirty like all of the other "first years". But then again, he wasn't most people, was he?
"What do you mean?" he asked when he thought he could manage to speak without letting out an intensely embarrassing noise.
"He'd be your patient. As I've already told you, he didn't react to anything, and believe me, we've done all in our power to heal or help him. But this just now was a major progress, even though he only focused on you for but a second. But you might be able to get through to him… I am not willing to give up hope. There's not much of it but we need to take every opportunity of making our Harry better, seriously."
Draco looked at her, then back to the boy who was still sitting at his former spot, staring out into the sky. Draco didn't really need to think about it, it was obvious that he wasn't going to pass such an enormous opportunity. Besides that, Harry had gained his curiosity and if he would be allowed to help the boy, he was going to do everything in his powers to achieve that goal. Not showing his enthusiasm because he felt like he needed to play distant since that was just what being a Malfoy was all about, he finally, after leaving the woman on the tenterhooks for what he considered to be long enough, he looked back to her and nodded.
"I'd love to."
Harry stared out at the clouds curiously. He liked watching clouds. They weren't really real, even if they were. They were the bridge between his sanity and insanity. He liked discovering interesting shapes in them. Today, he had already spotted a giant rabbit and an old bearded man who looked a lot like Dumbledore.
Yes, Harry was aware of who Dumbledore was. He was a nice, old man who came to visit him often. Harry liked to listen to his kind chattering. He never replied because he couldn't.
He stilled when he heard steps coming his way. He wondered if it was Dumbledore again but the fact that the nurse talked about him told him that it wasn't him. No, it was someone else who was with Abigail. Someone new. When the nurse touched him, he jerked away, shuddering. He hated to be touched. Abigail addressed him, and he reluctantly tore his eyes away from the fascinating clouds. He recognized Abigail and looked at the other person then. The first thing he noticed was his eyes. Draco, as Abigail had called him, was a blond man with a pointy face. He was handsome but the most capturing thing about him were his eyes. For a moment, Harry stared into them, his heart beating a little faster because of the pure intensity that was reflected in those eyes. They looked like liquid silver and gained Harry's curiosity.
But then he the thought that they might not be real occurred to him. They might be a figment of his imagination, just like everything else around him was. And so he unfocused again and looked back at the clouds because he knew that at least they were partly real.