Then you stand.
Then you stand.
Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand
Draco has always hated the silence. It rang heavy in his ears, the nothingness, pressing in on his eardrums until he wanted to scream, just to have something to listen to. See, the silence lulls you into things. If it's a peaceful silence, it makes you hopeful. If it's a pregnant pause, your breath hitches in anticipation. If it's dead silence, it draws fear in your heart.
Draco has hated silence since the war.
Silence terrified him more than anything now. It seemed always like the calm before the storm, like the edge of a great precipice that he could tumble over shrieking at any moment.
He ran the radio to drown it out, listening to the Weird Sisters, The Hag Trio, anyone, anything. Anything but the silence. The silence pushed against him, lurking beyond the music, pressing on his spine, in his ears. He supposed he might be going mad, but he wasn't certain.
Do crazy people know that they're crazy?
He'd been back, at this quiet empty Manor, for almost two months. He hadn't left at all, hadn't really moved out of his rooms. The silence, you see, would be waiting, and he needed to stay close to the radio.
The Manor had always been a safe haven, with father's strong presence, and mother's voice, the scent of her perfume. He'd loved his father, loved his mother.
It had been silent when they'd been Kissed.
Draco shot awake and turned the radio up, clutching his covers to a bare, sweaty chest. He hated dreams. He hated remembering. He hated reliving things. His dreams never focused on things that he'd enjoy seeing again. Never on Christmases or trips to the beach, or his mother's loving smile, and his father's steady hands clasped over Draco's shoulders.
Instead he remembered a silent bathroom, broken only by him crying to the only sympathetic being he'd had around, struggling to make himself strong. The pressure had taken him to his knees, brought tears to his eyes and spilled them over his cheeks.
He'd never been fast enough to beat Potter. He recalled this as he spun to cast a curse, and remembered the tinny scent of his blood, the deep, dark crimson it was spurting into the air. He hadn't felt the pain yet, it was too deep, and recalled lying on the floor in the bathroom thinking that he was going to die. Severus had come in and saved him. Severus always did that.
There is a pattern to life.
Life knocks you down, beats you to your knees, presses on your spine, weighs heavy on your heart. You bend, and feel like you may break. But you get mad. It gives you strength, so you grit your teeth and find a reason. Then you stand.
He dreamed other times of staring at a frail, ill old man offering him salvation before a green light wiped the ever present twinkle from kind old eyes and the man tumbled away, taking Draco's newly born hopes with him. He dreamed of running, of an angry, livid Potter chasing him and Severus, and feeling a terror he'd only felt once before, in the presence of Voldemort himself. He'd been taken to Spinner's End, and waited, until he was called on you help them infiltrate Hogwarts again. It was the only reason, the Dark Lord had said, that he hadn't killed Draco.
Too bad it hadn't stopped the torture.
He dreamed again, and this one was perhaps the most disturbing of them all. He was in the Room of Hidden Things. The world was on fire, and he was getting prepared to die, clinging to Goyle, drenched in sweat, when Potter swooped and tried to grab his sweaty hand. Then they were flying, and he understood now, why he could never win a Quidditch game, and he saw, through the flames, Crabbe dying. He clung to Potter, burying his face into his shoulder and screaming.
The most horrible part was thinking, not of the horror, and the fire, or the death, but of Potter's torso, the strong muscles of his stomach beneath Draco's hands, and the smell of him in Draco's nose. And the overwhelming feeling of, I'm safe now, Potter's got me.
He hated to dream.
Draco carried the radio around the house with him, so he could clean. The house elves gave him shocked looks, and scurried out of his way. He needed to clean the house, to clean everything away. He hooked a tie around the radio, so that he could hang it over his shoulder like a school bag. It was very heavy, and he imagined that it was rather like carrying around Granger's giant bag overstuffed with all the books she carried around.
Fenrir Greyback had sat on that sofa.
Draco heaved and pushed and hefted it out the front door. There was the cellar where they had kept Potter and his friends, Ollivander, and that goblin. The floor where he'd found Wormtail dead. He grabbed a large hammer and knocked down the door and broke up the bloodstained stones and then summoned a house elf to bring him a wheelbarrow. He wheeled it all outside while the Weird Sisters sang from his radio.
He didn't like magic much these days. It really hadn't done much good for him. It hadn't saved Crabbe. Hadn't saved Severus. Hadn't saved his parents. Hadn't saved him from---He slammed the thought into a mental brick wall.
He was useless. But this. This he could do.
He went back upstairs. Over there was where his Aunt Bellatrix had tortured Granger. There was a dark red bloodstain on the cream colored carpets. The corner by the fireplace had another, larger bloodstain. There was a burn mark just where Aunt Bellatrix had been standing. He remembered Potter's swollen face, and trying hard to be evasive, to try and help them. He didn't know if Potter had ever realized that he was attempting to help.
He still had a few scars on his face, fainter white against his already pale skin, from when the chandelier fell. He grabbed a knife and began tearing up the carpets, pushing furniture out of the way. His arms and legs were shaking with effort, his nails sore from scrabbling at carpet and he was only halfway through the expansive room.
He sat on his knee, his feet up under him, head bowed. He thought of his parents, how upset his mother had been about the things done in her house, and his father's stupid gleeful face as he thought of turning in Potter, of redeeming himself and saving their lives. Anger boiled in his gut, hot and sick, nauseating.
Then you stand.
He pulled hard at the carpets again.
Draco was in the middle of tearing down the portraits on the walls in the drawing room when one of the house elves popped in to inform him that he had a guest seconds before Harry Potter walked in the door.
Draco dropped the portrait he'd been holding, and hugged the radio to his chest. Potter was wearing Auror robes, and looked fit and healthy, like a weight had lifted off his shoulders. Draco felt a swoop of terror in his chest. He was here to take him away. They'd changed their minds, and they were going to have Draco Kissed.
"Hullo, Malfoy." Potter said, rather distantly, as he stared around the room, green eyes widening slightly. His eyes rested on Draco, and he felt his fingers reflexively clutch the radio a little tighter. He was muffling it slightly, but it was still loud enough to hear, and he couldn't bear to turn it off.
"Why are you here?" Draco asked, feeling hunted, like a panicking animal.
"A few people had been wondering where you were, and said they hadn't seen you in a few months. They sent me to make sure you weren't dead."
"Oh." relief flooded Draco so quickly he let go of the radio, and the noise increased again, blissfully drowning out the silence, and obviously startling Potter.
"What's with the radio?" Potter asked, obviously confused. Draco just shrugged, and his hands twitched slightly. He needed to keep working, so he turned, and began tearing portraits off the wall, ignoring their shrieks when he sent them sailing to the pile in the corner. He tore his hand on a frame, but ignored the sharp pain, already working on pulling the next one down.
"Malfoy." Potter said, putting a hand on Draco's wrist. He startled, and jumped slightly. He had assumed Potter had left. He hadn't made any noise since he asked about the radio. He brought his wand out and Draco tried not to, he really did, but he flinched away, hiding his face. There was a muttered healing spell, and Draco's hand didn't hurt anymore, but Potter still had it in his grip. His hands were gentle, and warm, and Draco let his other hand drop, utterly and completely mortified.
"You had cut your hand. It's really a mess. What have you been doing?" Potter said, and Draco looked up and saw Potter staring at his hand. His nails were torn, more than a few were bloody, and his knuckles were scraped and bruised from carrying stones and pieces of the door out of the cellar, and scraped it against the stone that had been under the carpet.
"I need to fix it." Draco muttered, gesturing around the room with his free hand.
"And you can't use magic to do it?" Potter asked, looking concerned and confused. He'd not looked at Draco like that before. Draco's stomach did a funny flop, though he couldn't imagine why.
Draco just shook his head, and went back to taking down the pictures.
"Alright. Well, I need to be heading off. There's some witch in Suffolk who fell into a charmed filing cabinet and got locked in." Potter said, and Draco waved him away and one hand, the other prying behind the frame of a large portrait of one of his innumerable ancestors to break the sealing spell.
He turned the radio up, and now he sleeps, despite the dreams of the torture in the drawing room that he needs to fix.
He was busily tearing the dark purple wallpaper off in strips when Potter returned. He didn't look up. He needed to finish getting it all out tonight. There was a splash of blood on the other wall, and a bloody paw print beside it that lent the cause to be Greyback.
"Hullo, Malfoy." Potter said. There was a rustling of fabric and then Potter was beside him, tearing a long strip of wallpaper off the wall. Draco stopped for a minute and stared.
"What are you doing?"
"Well, fixing things is always easier with a bit of help." Potter replied, tearing another long strip, and giving Draco a crooked little smile. Draco's stomach flopped, and he tore at the wall with a vengeance again. He was sweating and shaking again in a few hours, and Potter had rolled the sleeves of his t shirt up so that his arms were entirely bare. Draco dragged the pile of wallpaper out to the couch and the cellar floor, and started tearing again, before his legs gave out from under him.
"Hey!" Potter exclaimed, and rushed over to Draco. "What happened? Are you hurt?" He asked, and his hands ran over Draco's bent legs, searching for an injury. Draco pushed his hands off, feeling his face flush slightly.
"I'm fine." He said, and took a deep breath. He saw Fenrir Greyback, felt the werewolf's disgusting touch down his cheek, saw that heinous smile and anger rose again, and he could stand, and began tearing again.
"Maybe we should take a break." Potter said, and his hand was hot between Draco's sweaty shoulder blades.
"No. It needs to be fixed." Draco replied, and tore faster. He felt Potter stare for a few minutes more, and then the hand was removed, and Potter started up again next to Draco.
They finished the wall before Draco fell again, and threw up messily all over the bare stone floor.
"Geeze, Malfoy. That's enough for today." Potter said, and the hand was back between his shoulder blades. Draco turned, panicked, and grabbed the front of Potter sweaty shirt.
"No! It has to be finished! I need to fix it! I don't want to dream about it!" He exclaimed and his head spun. None of this made sense. Potter wasn't even supposed to be here, helping him. It made no sense, at least none that Draco could figure out. He didn't understand why he was telling him anyway, or why Potter would care.
"Alright. Ok. But you need a break, ok?" Potter said. His voice was deep and soft, with just a tiny rasp to it. Draco hadn't noticed before, possibly because he'd always been screaming at Draco in anger. The sound soothed him, mixing nicely with the soft piano music that Celestina Warbeck would be singing over soon.
"When's the last time you ate?" Potter asked. Draco didn't remember, and told him so. "You don't remember? Then it's been way too long. Come on, let's go get something to eat and drink, and then get back to work."
Draco obediently led Potter to the kitchen. He thought his heart was beating altogether too rapidly, but he really had overworked today.
Potter had made them sandwiches and poured a couple of glasses of pumpkin juice, ignoring the house elves wringing their hands, then sat beside Draco at the table. His fringe was plastered to his forehead with sweat, and his knuckles looked red where they had rubbed on the wall. The neck of his t shirt was damp.
"So, what are your plans for the drawing room?"
"Plans?" Draco asked, chewing, but not really tasting his sandwich. He didn't really feel hungry.
"Well, what are you planning to do with it after you get it all cleared out? Like colors and stuff?" Potter asked, his brows creasing slightly.
"I don't have a plan." Draco replied, adjusting the station on his radio. The Banshees were on now. He liked them. They were quite loud.
He looked back to find Potter staring at the hand fiddling with the radio, and recognized the look. He knew now, why Potter was here. He pitied Draco.
"Why did you gut it?"
"Because the carpet was bloodstained, and Aunt Bellatrix burned it that one time. And Greyback was running around so often that I bet it had fleas in it." He replied. That and it made him remember. It was like a contagion. Anything that had anything to do with the Dark Lord, or the werewolves, anything dark, he wanted out of his house.
"Ah." Potter said, and took a bite out of his sandwich. "What about the radio?"
Draco was silent for a moment before replying. "I like it."
They finished their food in relative silence, Potter watching Draco in between bites of food. Draco's skin felt odd, like it was pulled too tightly over bones. The sweat was drying on his skin, and felt sticky. His legs were still wobbly. He found himself angry at Potter and welcomed it, because the anger would make him strong. It was a familiar feeling, and was almost comforting in that manner. He didn't know why he was angry at Potter, but he stood when Potter had finished his sandwich and they returned to working at the wallpaper.
They finished the room, and Potter clapped Draco on the shoulder and then left with a slight smile.
Draco was able to sleep, and he did not dream.
Potter did not return the next day, and Draco set off through the house. He gutted his father's old study, shoving books on dark matter into boxes and having the house elves donate them to where ever. He cleaned the potions room out, empty out his father's collections, and then started in on his mother's. She didn't really have anything dark, but there were things he'd seen Aunt Bellatrix touching, or the Greyback had lovingly trailed his fingers over while she hadn't been looking. Any beds that Greyback had touched, the room where his Aunt had stayed, a chair he'd once seen the Dark Lord sit in. anything and everything.
He tore through the gardens later, pulling out plants with dark uses or power, anything that could bite, or otherwise damage another creature.
The day after that Potter came back. The elves didn't announce him this time. Draco was sitting on the bare stone floor surrounded by blank bare walls, and no furniture in the drawing room. Draco didn't pay him any attention. He fiddled slightly with the radio, getting it to a song he liked.
Draco looked up to reply, and saw Potter looked a little worse for the wear, and had a blue haired toddler propped up on one hip. "Who's that?"
"This is Teddy Lupin." Potter replied. The boy waved pudgy baby fingers at him and smiled showing a lot of gum and tiny white teeth. Draco went to wave back when the name clicked.
"You brought a werewolf in here?!" He yelled, pushing himself back, sliding across on his butt. "You brought some little werewolf pup in here?! What's the matter with you?!"
"He's not a werewolf." Potter replied, patting the boy's back.
"His name is Lupin, like that werewolf teacher we had!"
"Yes, Remus Lupin is--was-- Teddy's father. But Teddy didn't get the disease." Potter stated. "He's actually related to you. Your cousin Nymphadora is---was-- his mother."
"I don't have a cousin Nymphadora." Draco replied, hugging the radio to his chest again, swallowing the panic down.
"Yeah, you do. Well. I suppose your family must have done what Sirius's did, and burned her off the family tree."
"I'm so very lost." Draco sighed, running a hand through his hair. He absentmindedly noticed that it was getting a little shaggy.
"Hold a bit." Potter said and set Teddy down. The little boy toddled around for a bit, inspecting things around. "Sirius Black, was my godfather. In his house, he had a tapestry, that showed the entire family. Anyone who was a blood traitor or what not they burned off. Your mother had a sister named Andromeda, who married a muggle, and they had a daughter."
"I have another aunt?" Draco wondered, picking absently at his nails. "Hmm. Now that you mention it, mum did say something about an Andy from time to time. So that would be her then." thinking of his mother made his chest ache.
"Probably. Teddy! Don't you put that in your mouth!" Potter yelled, rushing up and over to grab a hunk of stone away from the toddler. He brought Teddy back with him, and Draco looked down at the small boy, before reaching over and ruffling his blue hair. Teddy looked up at him, and Draco gasped a little when he watched the features of his face morph to look almost identical to what Draco looked like at that age, the blue hair bleeding out to white blond.
"A metamorphmagus?" Draco asked, and at Potter's nod chuckled a little. "Well, aren't you the clever boy."
"I don't know what he's actually supposed to look like. He changes his face around all the time. Even when he was a baby."
"He's pretty talented then. So his mother was one then?"
"Yeah. How'd you know?"
"Well, it runs in families. It'll skip a couple generations and then pop up for a few in a row." Draco replied, moving the radio out of reach of Teddy's grabby toddler hands.
The toddler didn't really speak too often, just mostly made noises, and told him a few choice sentences like "I need to go potty." He and Potter stayed mostly silent, Potter talking to Teddy more often than Draco. After the toddler seemed to fall asleep right in the middle of scampering around Draco led the way up to his bedroom to put him down in his bed.
Potter looked interestedly around the room.
"This isn't what I expected."
"Figured it'd be in shades of green, covered in snakes and skulls?" Draco replied, closing the curtains.
"Well, yeah, actually." Potter replied, rubbing the back of his head, which made his hair look like a rather angry hedgehog. "I actually really like this."
Draco raised an eyebrow, watching Potter's cheeks flush red, and wondered why saying Draco's bedroom looked nice made him blush.
He'd done the room in earth tones. The walls were a soft medium brown with a sky blue trim, the floors were cream colored carpets with a blue detail rug at the door to the balcony and at the end of the bed. He had dark wood furniture and had a comforter patterned with large diamond shapes in blue on the same shade of brown as the walls.
Draco had thought it might be a little feminine, but he liked the way the colors had looked together, and had redone it anyway.
"I don't really like being surrounded by any of that. Skulls certainly don't appeal to me, and snakes make my skin creep just a bit." Draco admitted, sitting in one of the cream and dark wood armchairs he had in here for reading.
"I love snakes." Potter grinned, and flopped down in the other armchair. Draco set the radio on the end table and pulled his knees up, sitting curled in the chair.
"well, if I could talk to an animal, I'd probably like it too." He replied, setting the radio on a little end table beside him.
"I suppose that makes sense." Potter gave another crooked smile, looking over at Teddy sleeping peacefully on the bed.
"Why are you here, Potter?" Draco asked suddenly, and watched green eyes snap back to him.
"What do you mean?"
"You perfectly understand what I mean. You and I have no love lost between us. You were sent here on assignment, and yet returned without a reason. What is your reason?"
"I don't have anywhere else to be." Potter replied evasively, taking his glasses off to clean them. Draco sighed, and when Potter looked up somewhat unfocused, his eyes were positively startling without the glass to separate them from the rest of the world. Draco's heart did a funny thump in his chest, and he felt his neck heat on the back.
"Well, then your life is far more pathetic than I could have possibly dreamed." he drawled, chewing absently at one torn nail.
"What do you mean?"
"You're very good at being evasive, Potter. Did they teach you that at Auror training?" He sneered, moving onto another nail. Potter just stared, his brow furrowed. "You pity me, don't you?"
"No." Potter replied, looking distinctly guilty and surprised.
"Liar. I've seen the way you look at me. Like I'm some poor stray Kneazle." Draco snapped quietly, so as not to wake Teddy. "News flash, Potter. I don't want or need your pity. I'm fine."
"Really?" Potter asked, obviously angry now. "You look like you haven't eaten in months, you're tearing yourself bloody ripping apart your house by hand, and you carry around a radio at all times. You actually threw up from exhaustion the last time I was here!"
"It's not really any consequence to you, now is it? Or did they assign you to look after me at work? Make sure I'm not cooking up poisons in the cellar to feed to unsuspecting muggles?"
"I haven't been assigned anything. I don't know why but I was actually worried about you! But obviously I needn't have bothered. You're doing quite alright by yourself, going mad all alone in a Manor!" Potter seethed. Draco bristled like a cat, and felt his lips pull back from his teeth.
"You stuff it! I'm not mad!"
"Sure you aren't. And your lovely Aunt Bellatrix was a right sane ball of sunshine!" Potter retorted, his voice raising in volume. He had that same fierce look he'd had chasing Snape after he'd killed Dumbledore.
"GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!" Draco screamed, and Teddy woke and screamed as well, his hair turning white, and his nose long and hooked. Potter was still glaring angrily at Draco, panting heavily, and then the furniture began to vibrate, the books rattling within their shelves. Draco felt the prickle of magic spill over him and pressed himself to the wall, feeling the blood drench from his face in fear.
The radio tumbled from the table and smashed. Silence pressed in, only broken by little sniffles from Teddy and the rattling of heavy furniture. Panic overtook the fear as the cessation of sound pressed hard against Draco's ears.
"NO! What have you done?" He screamed, scrabbling to get the pieces of the radio. The furniture stopped rattling, but Draco's hands shook, his face felts hot and wet. "Oh no. nononononono… you need to work!" He pleaded with the radio.
Potter knelt and cast a reparo on it, but even as Draco's shaking fingers turned the knobs, it was silent still. He felt like a drowning man staring at a jar of water that he didn't have the strength to open. He clutched fists of his hair, pulling so hard he heard some of it rip out, and gave a low scream, rocking back and forth on his knees. He needed the sound. He couldn't think without it, the silence hurt his head, rang in his ears.
He came back to himself a few moments later, there was the music of a child's toy playing, cheerful and shrill, but it was better than silence.
His face was buried against something solid and warm, and he realized that it was Potter's chest, and that he had been muttering in Draco's ear and running hands up and down Draco's back in a soothing manner. Potter said a thanks to Teddy, his voice rumbling against Draco's cheek.
Draco pulled back, mortified, and sat back on his feet, looking down at his bent knees feeling shamed.
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to break it." Potter said, sounding shaken. "Are you alright?" Draco's throat was tight, and felt raw, and he couldn't bring himself to speak. "I shouldn't have lost my temper, ok?"
Potter placed a hand on Draco's shoulder again, and Draco managed to lift his face to look at him. Potter was white, his black hair stark contrast to his pale, drawn face. It took Draco a moment to realize he looked terrified.
"I don't…. I just…I need it." Draco finished lamely. Teddy walked up with a little bear labeled with colors and words that was apparently the toy playing the music.
"You hafta hold it so it sings." The little boy informed him. His hair was a mousy brown now, his face entirely too reminiscent of Professor Lupin after the full moon. Draco took the bear and held it. It sang an upbeat "it's a great big colorful world out there, everything's got a color that it can wear" that was entirely out of place in this setting. But it kept the silence away.
"I'll go buy you a new radio, alright? We'll be right back." Potter said, and smoothed Draco's hair back in a surprisingly affectionate gesture. He assumed that it must be because he was mad, and you were supposed to be kind to crazy people.
As Potter left hand in hand with Teddy, Draco wondered if crazy people knew they were crazy.
Draco had dozed a bit while Potter was gone, sitting in the same position on the floor, hugging the bear that went through a litany of songs about the order of body parts and counting to ten. Potter seemed shocked to see him in the same position as when he left, and petted Draco's head again.
"Where's Teddy?" Draco asked when he noticed the toddler's absence.
"At home. Ron and Hermione are watching him." Potter replied, setting the radio on the bedside table and turning it on before walking over to Draco.
Draco's legs were agony from staying folded under him for so long, his knees were sharp points of pain, his feet asleep. Potter had to help him stand.
"Look… just.. Why the radio? Why are you tearing apart the house?" Potter asked, sitting on the bed after he'd helped Draco lay down, fiddling with the singing bear. Draco sighed, and Potter turned to look at him. "Please just tell me. Please?"
"I just… I think I am crazy. I don't know… they just.. It's quiet. All the time. It gives me a headache and hurts my ears." Draco whispered, curling on his side. Potter sat in the circle of Draco's body, far enough away that he wasn't touching, but close enough that Draco could feel the heat of his body. "My mum always talked, or my dad hummed, usually off-key, and the house elves were always bustling about."
Potter didn't speak, just watched Draco's face as he softly spoke, not commenting on Draco's embarrassed flush.
"I think I'm mad, probably. There's just…Greyback lived here." Draco whispered the last bit, and his mind welled up with images he did not want to remember.
"Your mother let that monster in the house with you?" Potter sounded vaguely scandalized.
"She didn't really have a choice in the matter. The Dark Lord told people what to do, he didn't ask nicely." Draco sighed, and the memories were there, a foul scabby mouth pressing to-- he slammed his mind shut with a small sound, and Potter smoothed his hair again.
"I tried to save her." Potter said, and Draco's eye popped open with shock.
"I testified for her. She helped me win the war. Her other crimes apparently over ruled it. I never agreed with the decision to have her Kissed." Potter sounded resigned, and looked vaguely angry. "I can't believe they still employed Dementors for anything after they turned on us like that."
"They made me watch." Draco blurted, pressing his lips together so they didn't tremble. "How--" He had to stop and clear his tight throat. "How did she help you win?"
"I sacrificed myself." Potter said softly. Draco had remembered hearing about Potter being dead, and being carried out by Hagrid. He'd thought it was a plot on the side of the light, to lure the Death Eaters into a false sense of triumph, and told Potter so.
"No. Not at all. I did die. I've never told anyone, actually. But… I walked up to Voldemort and let him kill me." Potter replied. Draco couldn't stop the incredulous face, or the gasp. "I--I remember being in King's Cross station. And Dumbledore. It's a little fuzzy now, but then I woke up in the middle of the Death Eaters, and Voldemort sent your mother to check if I was dead. It's funny what you remember, I remember her hair tickled my nose when she bent over me, and she asked me if you were alive. I didn't know if you still were, but this is after I'd gotten you out of the Fiendfyre. So I told her you were. She told Voldemort I was dead."
"She was a hero too." Draco whispered, and tried to rub the tears from his eyes before Potter could see.
"Yes, she was. For nothing else than being more mother than Death Eater." Potter replied.
"I don't want to think about the war. It gives me nightmares." Draco confessed, not knowing why he was telling Potter, why any of this was happening.
"I do too. They're better now, then they used to be, but that's not really saying too much." Potter sighed, and looked tired and older than he was for a moment.
"Why are you here, Potter?"
"Honestly? I don't know." Potter rubbed his eyes under his glasses. "I really resented the assignment to check on you, but… I guess you… You look and act like I feel. If that makes any sense."
"We're probably both crazy."
"Do crazy people know they've gone mad?" Potter asked, raising an eyebrow at Draco.
"I was wondering the same thing earlier." Draco yawned, and was distantly aware of Potter telling him to shove over.
Draco felt very warm on content, vaguely dreaming of feeling safe. ('I'm safe now, Potter's got me') and thought he might have the strength to stand and start working again tomorrow.
Draco was rather alarmed to be waking up to something solid and warm pressed against him again. This time Potter was spread about over practically the entire bed, one arm up over his head, his shirt rumpled up, legs splayed. Draco was teetering precariously on the edge of the bed, staring at the rather alarming amount of exposed skin the shirt had revealed. Potter's stomach was lean and muscular, with a thin line of black hair heading down to the waistband of Potter's denims.
Draco quickly snapped himself out of his disturbing gander of Potter-flesh, to notice something was stabbing him in the side. He lifted up on one arm to find Potter's glasses were the cause, and they were rather squashed for the effort. His movement seemed to rouse the other man, because Potter made a few sleepy noises and then lethargically moved his arm down to scratch at the exposed flesh, and then blinked his eyes open. They were even more startling up close without his glasses, and Draco's heart did a flop again.
He was beginning to suspect he might have a blockage or something to have a Healer look at.
Potter looked utterly baffled for a whole second before he gave a slightly startled noise and rolled off the bed, landing in a crouch unconsciously.
"What….How….why?" Potter asked, fumbling around, looking for his glasses. Draco handed them over, and they sat awkwardly on Potter's face.
"I have no idea. I guess you fell asleep talking to me or something." Draco replied, and stretched. Potter's eyes seemed to shoot down to the tiny bit of Draco's skin exposed by the action, and he felt slightly gratified. It must have been the shock of waking up and not knowing what had led to it that made people stare at flesh.
"Oh gods, I left Teddy with Ron and Hermione all night!" Potter groaned, clapping a hand to his forehead with an audible slap.
"Well, I usually offer people who sleep with me breakfast, but I understand if you have to run." Draco replied smoothly, brushing his hair back. He smirked when Potter gaped at him, before spluttering for a few moments.
Potter excused himself a few minutes later, still pink cheeked and nervous. It confounded Draco slightly, but he simply hooked his new radio to a strap and let it hang around him like he'd done with the old one. The silence was lurking, waiting at the edge of his sound to press against him at the slightest cessation of sound.
Draco working industriously, scrubbing and cleaning everything that he'd felt he could salvage out of the rooms. He dusted everything off, waxed all the woods, and rubbed preservatives on the covers of old leather bound books to keep the spines from cracking with age. He knew there was another room to be gutted, but he didn't think he could bring himself to enter it yet.
He swept the floors up next, then scrubbed the bare stone down with soap and water, he washed the windows, and got inside the fireplace and scrubbed the walls and the floors so that all the soot and scorch marks were gone. He had just crawled out when Potter walked back in, with Teddy and Granger. Or Weasley. Whatever her new last name was.
"Well, that was fast," He drawled, pushing his hair behind his ear self-consciously, belatedly realizing that his fingers were black with soot. He felt sick when he noticed Teddy's hair was a shade lighter with white, and his nose still slightly hooked, and Granger/Weasley was looking at him with a mixture of shock, pity, and dislike.
"Yeah. Ron had to work, and Hermione is off for the day, so she thought she could tag along and watch Teddy while we worked." Potter grinned a sheepish grin that made Draco certain that she had not wanted to tag along for that particular reason.
"I don't know what else to do to the rooms." He replied, picking off half of a nail that had cracked when he scraped it against the floor while scrubbing.
"Well, they need flooring, and to be painted, new furniture, that sort of thing." Potter replied, patting Teddy's back.
"I don't know how to do all that by hand." Draco replied, fiddling with the radio to get it off a song his father used to hum. He was surprisingly given to bawdy romance ballads. He'd hum them and dance up behind his mother and hug her around the waist. He slammed a door shut hard on the memory, and pushed the urge to cry back.
"Well, painting is easy enough. The flooring might be difficult. Muggle stores offer installation but I don't think you'd want them in your house." Granger/Weasley sniffed, taking Teddy from Potter to prop him on one hip.
"No, that'd be rather problematic. It would be entirely like the house elves to pop up unasked when they're here and I'd have to explain to the ministry exactly why there was a dead muggle in my home." Draco replied, managing to summon up the ghost of his old smirk.
"I guess we'll have to go to the store for the supplies." Potter smiled his crooked smile again. Draco shrugged in reply. "Well, is there anywhere else that needs work?"
"Not today." Draco replied.
"hmm. Have you eaten lunch yet?" Potter asked. Draco shook his head no. "I bet you haven't eaten breakfast yet either then." he sounded slightly scolding this time, and Draco shook his head no again, fiddling with the radio knobs so he didn't have to look at Potter. "Well, you go wash up, and Hermione and I will fix some lunch."
He walked off towards the shower, and caught her reply.
"What? He hasn't completely gutted the kitchen too?"
He sighed, and looked up at his reflection when he entered the bathroom. He really did look like crap. His skin was the same pale, but with rings under his eyes, and a lack of flesh under it, and streaked with soot from the fireplace. He really was very skinny. He pulled off his clothing, set the radio next to the sink, and stared at his naked reflection while the water heated up in the shower. He hadn't paid any attention to himself in a good while. It wasn't a pleasant sight. His ribs poked out, his hip bones sharp, his collar bones clearly visible. The scars from where Potter cast that curse in sixth year stood out still, not a pale white like his other scars. These had been too deep for that, starting out a deep angry red purple. They'd faded considerably now, but they were still a pink purple, crisscrossing over his chest. Thankfully the one on his face had been shallow enough that it hadn't turned the same shade. It was white, and went over his left eyebrow and his the bridge of his nose, with the little scattering of thin white scars from the chandelier falling. His fringe hid it now, and his hair scraped his collar bones. He turned and looked over his shoulder at his back. His shoulder blades protruded, as did the bumps of his spine. Potter really was right; he needed to eat more.
He took as quick a shower as possible, scrubbing the soot off his fingers and out of his hair. After he was satisfied with the level of clean he'd attained, he dried off, dressed, and headed back towards the kitchen. Potter and Granger/Weasley were talking, and not wanting to interrupt, he waited for them to finish.
"Honestly, Harry, this is not healthy." she sighed.
"What are you talking about?"
"I know you've got this like… ingrained need to help people but--"
"I do not have a 'saving people thing' ok, Hermione."
"You both have spent the last how many years hating each other? There's really not any other explanation for you being here." She replied. Something sizzled on the stove.
"You wouldn't understand, Hermione."
"You wouldn't. You don't. I know that."
"Ok, I don't get it. Why don't you explain it to me anyway?"
"You've never lost your parents."
"Oh, really, Harry." she sounded exasperated. "Being orphans has something to do with it? You never even knew your parents."
Draco felt his jaw drop, and there was a sharp intake of breath. She stuttered for a few minutes before becoming silent.
"If you think it made it any easier to lose them for not knowing them then I seriously over estimated your intelligence. No, let me talk. It certainly didn't make my life any easier. And just think. Draco did know his parents. And they didn't even get something so peaceful as death." Potter replied. Draco felt buoyed somehow. He wasn't pitying him. He sympathized. Well, with what he knew.
"And that means you need to encourage his obvious psychosis? Harry, the man is seriously mentally ill. He needs St. Mungo's, not an extra set of hands to help him destroy his house. I mean, what's the purpose in doing this? And that radio? Teddy was so scared when you brought him over that the poor child shook for two hours!"
"I don't know, ok? But the house I'm guessing he just wants to make it feel like his, versus his parents home. I'm planning on gutting my whole place when things at work settle down." he replied. Draco finally decided to enter, because his stomach rumbled rather loudly at the smell of the food. He didn't want the house to feel like his. He didn't care if it ever did or not. He wanted to get the evil out, gut it of the bad memories, the bloodstains and the dead bodies, the… other things. His parents room would remain untouched, not even the house elves allowed to go into it.
Potter smiled crookedly at him, and Draco sent a tentative smile back. Teddy was feeding himself slowly, a look of intense concentration on his soft baby features. His hair kept changing to the colors of the foods he was eating. Draco guessed that Granger was now a Weasley, because she had a wedding ring on her finger. It was rather inconvenient, because there were innumerable amounts of male Weasleys and there was already a she Weasley. He was going to start numbering them soon.
Potter dished out the rest of the food and then henpecked him until he ate every bite, feeling as though his stomach might burst from sheer volume of food. Weasley wife watched with hawk like eyes while eating her own dish. Potter went around to pick up all the plates and silver wear, kissing Teddy's cheek and smoothing Draco's hair. Weasley wife's eyebrows shot together at that, and Draco tried (and failed) not to blush.
"I need a word with you, Harry." She said, pulling on his sleeve to tug him out of the room. Draco stared across the table at Teddy, who's dark blue hair was slowly bleeding out to pale blue. He set the radio on the table, and then went around to the toddler, who's hair promptly turned white.
"I'm sorry I scared you. I didn't mean to, and I'll do my very best not to again." He said, smoothing Teddy's hair back in the same manner that Potter usually did. Teddy reached out and pulled Draco into and hug, which he returned, patting Teddy's back.
"If this is about Ginny--"
"IT'S NOT ABOUT GINNY! WHY IS EVERYTHING ABOUT GINNY? I DON'T CARE ABOUT GINNY!!" Potter bellowed. Teddy's eye went wide and he covered his mouth with his hands. His hair went bright pink.
Weasley wife muttered something to quietly to hear, and Draco had a burning desire to know what was said.
"I'm not upset because Ginny left me, Hermione! I'm upset because SHE CHEATED ON ME! With Seamus Finnegan and Dean Thomas! At the same time! IN OUR BED!" Potter replied. Draco sniggered a little, letting out a rather undignified snort. Who knew the She Weasley had it in her?
There was more murmuring from both parties, before Potter came back in the kitchen, red faced, and obviously embarrassed and angry, and Weasley Wife looking abashed.
"So. Who wants to go shopping?" Draco asked cheerily.
They went to a muggle home improvement store. There had been a brief moment of trouble when Draco realized his radio wouldn't work in muggle areas (and the muggles would have had questions about the strange radio), when Weasley Wife had suggested a c.d. player. She'd only had a disk with a female country singer on it, but she had a very nice smooth voice, even if she did sing rather depressing songs.
He was walking with Potter and Teddy through the paint department, while Weasley wife went looking for a couple of home design books that she thought might be useful. Trust her to run straight to books.
It had been interesting trying to figure out what to do with Teddy. They'd tried a hat, but you could still see a bit of his hair, and his features were obviously still morphing at his whims. Potter just gave up and cast a glamour spell over him so they didn't give a muggle a heartastroke or something.
"This is a nice shade." Potter said, holding out a sea foam green color. Draco nodded, adjusting his headphones. He'd turned the volume down to a whisper so he could hear over the music without everyone shouting.
"I'd need to repaint the fireplace. It's a red mahogany to match the old purple wallpaper." Draco replied, and looked through the neutral shades, finding a creamy color that looked good next to it.
"That looks good." Potter gave a crooked smile, and then promptly rushed off to snatch a paint color card out of Teddy's mouth.
"Looked tasty." Teddy said, staring at the card with a vaguely betrayed expression, as though the card had done him a great misdeed by not being tasty.
A couple of muggle women cooed and laughed, commenting on how adorable Teddy was. Potter nodded and said thanks, and, rather uncharacteristically, came up and put his arm around Draco's waist, peering at the color samples. Draco's heart flopped again. Maybe he was the one in danger of a heartastroke or whatever the muggles called it. The two women promptly made disappointed murmurings and bustled off, and Teddy looked up and announced "Me too!" to which Potter scooped him up in a hug. Teddy snaked an arm out and grabbed the front of Draco's shirt, pulling him in as well. He ended up with his face pressed against Potter's neck, Teddy's arm locked around the back of his head. He was interrupted in his entirely inappropriate line of thought of how very, very good Potter smelled, when Teddy released them both, reaching out to Weasley wife, who was looking quite stern. He wondered why, when he noticed Potter flush a deep crimson and go back to looking at paint cards, staying a good half a foot away. It was a slightly confusing reaction, but Draco shrugged it off, and they moved on to the flooring section.
The cellar floor was easiest, as it was just concrete. He'd need to mix the powder with water, and smooth it over the floor. He got a warm terra cotta colored mix for it. He decided for bamboo hardwood for the drawing room, and got a book on instillation and care. He decided on doing the guest rooms as well, picking soft neutral colors in browns and creams, off setting with a brighter color, like a burnt orange, a wine, a turquoise, or a forest green . There were an inordinate amount of rooms in the manor, most of which had been turned into suites, book rooms, offices, and they'd had an art room made up where his mother had tried her hand at some paintings.
Potter was almost as enthusiastic as he was, talking about plans he had for his house, things that he thought were novel. He helped pick out drapes, and convinced Draco to get some paneling for the living room that came unfinished, so he could paint it the creamy color and have the sea foam more accented. Some of Potter's ideas were atrocious, like a Chudley Cannons orange paint, or an overly patterned drape, but for the most part, they tended to like the same style.
"I always hated all the fussy things my dad would pick out. Mom tended to like a lot of filigree and flowers, and Dad liked things that looked rich, which, oddly enough tended to be a gold gilt with a flower pattern." Draco rolled his eyes. "I'd rather have something that's peaceful and comfortable when I'm by myself. And I'd rather the guests paid attention to me, not the furniture." Potter chuckled a little, and moved to look at a trellis that they were nearby.
"My aunt and uncle were a little like that. But it had to be conservatively rich, not extravagant. Just enough to one up the neighbors. I go for comfort. I don't really care much what the sofa looks like, as long as it's soft. If I can choose pretty or comfy, I'll go with comfy."
"I'll keep looking until I find a couch that has both. It would be an epic quest." Draco replied, drawing up his old airs and looking down his nose at Potter. His effort was rewarded with Potter snorting into laughter, doubling over and gripping his sides. Draco smiled back. He supposed it must be rather ridiculous to look haughty when wearing muggle clothing that at one point had fit but was now too loose, with scruffy hair and a pair of muggle headphones on his head.
Weasley wife came back with a grin just a moment later, smiling in a quizzical manner at Potter's hilarity.
"Look what I found!" She grinned, and held up a little wooden plaque that was elegantly carved into a filigree. It wasn't over ornamented, just simple and elegant.
"I like that. It would look great as an accent on the fireplace." Draco said.
"That's what I though. It's nice, and really inexpensive. You just glue it on with a little wood putty." She smiled, and Draco found himself giving a little smile back. Her eyes narrowed a minute later, and Potter had stopped laughing and was looking at the trellis again. "Ugh, that thing's ghastly."
It really was. It was overwrought, and the ironwork looked shoddy, and it looked as though there were supposed to be little iron flowers on it, but they were misshapen and looked slightly like they'd been trampled on.
"Well, I thought it was nice." Potter mumbled, and they moved on, picking up the paints and flooring and heading back to the manor.
After they got everything unloaded, Draco turned back on his radio, slinging it over his shoulder in his usual manner, handing Hermione (Weasley wife got too tiring to even think) her headphones set back. Teddy was yawning, so Potter clapped Draco on the back and said goodbye, saying he'd be back in the morning. Hermione nodded politely which Draco returned.
He made himself eat, since it was about dinner time and he'd skipped lunch. And because he knew Potter would mother hen all over him if he found out that he hadn't eaten again. Then he set out the unfinished paneling, and set to work painting it. He wanted to get everything painted and set up before he got the flooring put in so there wouldn't be any drips or splatters on it. Or if Potter brought Teddy back over he didn't want any little handprints every where.
He worked for a long while, not feeling tired because of the lack of work during the day. He got the paneling all painted and set to dry, sanded down the chimney, and primed the walls for the panels and paint. He sighed, looking around waiting on the paint to dry, not even remotely sleepy. He gave it up and went back to his room, thinking to maybe settle down with a book to put him to sleep. He pick up an old well thumbed favorite and set it and the radio on his bedside table, changing into an old pair of soft cotton pajamas. He slid into his bed, propping himself up on some pillows, and tucked the blanket up to his chin.
It smelled like Potter.
Somehow that seemed to make him more tired, and he sank back into the pillows, which also smelled of Potter and fell asleep.
The next day there was no Potter. Draco continued working, getting the walls in the living room painted, and painting the fireplace. He moved the furniture from the guest rooms and painted them. He fell asleep, exhausted, wondering where Potter had been, and why he was wondering where Potter was, why he should even care.
He woke the next day, choked down his breakfast, attached the paneling to the walls in the drawing room, and added the appliqué to the front of the fireplace. Potter didn't show again. Draco knelt on the floor, determined that he would not, would not cry. He was surprised by how utterly and completely alone he felt again. Potter had invaded Draco's life again, in a rather more pleasant way, and Draco was surprised by the sorrow at the thought that Potter wouldn't be here anymore. The house needed to be finished. Draco didn't know what he'd do with himself then, but it needed to be done.
Then you stand.
Draco pushed himself up off the floor, and went to paint the accents in the guest rooms.
The following days were spent in a blur of painting and renovation. Draco stopped counting the days that Potter didn't show up. If you counted them, they had the tendency to turn to weeks, and he didn't want to think about that. He finished the rooms he had started. The guest rooms were painted and accented. The flooring was down in the drawing room, the cellar was repaved. He had nothing left to do but pick out furniture. And he couldn't bring himself to leave the house. It was pathetic, but the thought was, I need to stay, in case Potter shows up. I need to be home.
At this rate, he'd never set foot out of doors again.
He sat on the floor in the drawing room, admiring the hard work he put into it. It was light and airy, soothing. He hated it. It made him think of Potter. He went around now obsessively cleaning things that were already clean. He carefully bypassed that door, ignored his parents room, his father's study. He attempted to clean the attic, but after a run in with a bunch of rather angry doxies and a few biting tea sets he gave it up as too hazardous to do without a wand.
Draco hated to miss people. His whole chest ached with it now. He missed his mother and father so badly and completely that it was an actual physical pain. He felt hollowed out, as if his heart was feeling empty, the spaces where his mother and father had been ringing hollow with every beat, burning and stinging. The biggest shock of all had to be that he missed Potter. He missed how he hadn't even had to really say anything, and Potter just got it, immediately understood, took it all in stride. Everyone else tried to get him into the mental ward, Potter just tried to help, in his earnest way.
Draco had never really been one to be alone. He liked knowing that there was someone who cared around. He enjoyed talking to people, and he was very demonstrative in private. He'd always actually envied the Weasleys. With a family that large you'd never ever have to be alone. He'd have loved to have brothers and sisters to play with. The Weasleys could take the poverty though. Draco'd rather be a rich only child than a poor middle child.
The thing that bothered Draco the most was that he had no idea why Potter had stopped coming by. He didn't think he'd done anything wrong. He had thought they were getting along rather well, in fact.
Draco flopped back on the newly installed flooring and sighed. His hip bones hurt where they touched the floor. He held up his hand. It was thin and spidery looking, pale with bruised pink and purple fingertips where he'd hurt himself doing the flooring, the nails torn. He could see the bones in the back of his hand. He thought about it for a moment, and couldn't remember the last time he'd eaten.
Not that anyone would care if I starved to death. Draco thought morosely. He tried to remind himself that there were reasons to keep living, but he was finding himself sadly lacking at the moment. He had nothing in himself to be mad anymore. He couldn't make himself grit his teeth, feel the heat of anger. He couldn't really conjure up anything but the same bleak hollow feeling in his chest. What were you supposed to do when you ran out of reasons to keep living?
Draco sighed, and rolled onto his stomach and rested his head on his folded arms, reaching out to turn the radio up slightly. Then he just lay there, unable to make himself get up for the moment, wondering if he'd ever manage to make himself get up again.
Draco awoke to the sound of the floo. He didn't remember how long he'd been on the floor, just that he was still in the same spot, the radio a foot or two away, playing some chirpy song. He needed to pee, but didn't have the energy to get up.
"Hey," Potter's voice called a second before he walked in. Draco tried to lift his head, but he couldn't. There was a rush of footsteps and Potter hit his knees beside him. "Oh gods, please don't be dead, please, please don't be dead."
Potter's fingers pressed to Draco's throat. Draco managed to turn his head and open his eyes. Potter's face was closer than he'd thought, wide eyed with panic.
"You left." He croaked, and hated himself for it, and for the tears that rushed to fill his eyes.
Potter didn't reply, just scooped him up, holding him to his chest. He didn't even act like Draco was heavy. He grabbed the radio and slung it over his neck and then stood and rushed to the floo.
"Where are we going?" Draco croaked.
"No!" Draco tried to fight, but his limbs were sluggish, and he gave up after a few moments. "I'll be good, I promise, I'll do whatever you want, but don't take me."
"I'm not taking you to the mental ward. I thought you were dead, ok?" Potter gripped Draco tighter, and stepped into the fireplace, intoning "St. Mungo's".
The ward was quiet when Potter stepped out of the fireplace, but set to bustling rapidly after they emerged from the floo point. He was taken out of Potter's arms, and they tried to shoo him off, but Potter ignored them and hovered by Draco, making sure the radio was on. His face looked panicked again.
"He's severely emaciated." one of the healer's intoned to another, both of them murmuring about spells. He was set up in a bed and they set up a device beside it, and cast a spell at the inside of his arm. The device dripped, and he felt something cool flowing into his veins slowly.
Potter sat next to him and set up the radio on the bedside table, and he smoothed Draco's hair back from his face. Potter had a frown between his eyebrows, and he suddenly looked old, far older than 20. The healer came back in a moment later, and Potter drew back. Draco felt disappointed for a moment before Potter laced their fingers together.
"Hello, Mr. Malfoy. I'm Healer Meriwether. I just need to ask you a few questions." She was an older lady, with a no nonsense attitude, her brown eyes sharp and intelligent. At his nod, she continued. "Do you remember the last time you ate?" Draco shook his head 'no.' "Ok. Have you had any trouble breathing, or chest pain?"
"My heart sort of flops sometimes, or it races for no reason." he said. He might as well get it checked out while he was here, before they dragged him off to the mental ward.
"Flops?" Healer Meriwether asked, raising an eyebrow. "what were you doing when it happened?"
"Nothing really. It just happens randomly." Potter looked panicked again, and rubbed his thumb over Draco's knuckles. His heart seemed to be paying attention to the conversation and gave a flop again with an accompanying beep from the monitoring spell. "It did it just now."
"Just now?" Healer Meriwether asked, eyeing Potter's thumb speculatively. "Hmm."
"Is he alright?" Potter asked, green eyes wide with worry.
"Well, the monitoring spells didn't notice anything dangerous or they would have let out a very loud high pitched tone. He's been give a small sedative to keep him calm, and the intravenous is feeding him nutrients until we think it's safe to try to let him eat regular food." She replied, ticking a few things off on a chart. "You should be tired soon, Mr. Malfoy, and you should try to rest as much as possible."
Draco nodded, and squeezed Potter's hand slightly. His fingers still felt weak. Potter let go of his hand to smooth his hair back again, and Draco closed his eyes, letting the motion soothe him. Potter stopped and went to the private floo a while later. Draco guessed he thought he was asleep.
"Hermione?" Potter asked.
"Harry? Where are you?"
"I'm at St. Mungo's with Draco."
"I thought he didn't want to go?" She asked, and Draco could almost hear the raised eyebrow.
"He's not in the mental ward. He almost starved to death." Potter's voice cracked.
"I've been so swamped at the office with all the raids I didn't have time to stop over. He was just laying in the middle of the drawing room. I swear to the gods, 'Mione, I thought he was dead."
"oh dear." She sighed. "Do you need me to keep Teddy overnight?" there was silence for a few moments. "It's not a problem, he's a good boy. Oh, Harry, don't cry."
"He must have thought I abandoned him, too." Potter sniffled. "I should have owled or floo called or something. I was just so busy, and he'd been doing better."
Draco struggled to keep awake, and tried to call Potter. It came out as a feeble sort of croak, but Potter rushed over just the same. Draco struggled to lift his arm. It felt like he had tied weights to his wrist, but he pushed back Potter's hair, smoothing it like Potter did to him all the time. Potter hiccupped a little, and Draco rubbed at the tears on his face before he couldn't hold his arm up anymore. His eyes drifted shut, and the last thing he knew was the feeling of Potter crawling into the bed with him.
When Draco woke the next morning, it was to the gentle huffing snores of Potter right below his ear, and the sight of Millie Bulstrode.
"Oh, you're awake!" She spoke softly, smiling warmly. She'd grown into her looks, and while she was still ridiculously tall, and a bit heftier than she should be, she had a kind smile that dimpled her cheeks.
"You work here, Millie?" He asked, his voice somewhat horse. He saw her frown slightly.
"Yes. How do you know me?" She asked, her voice confused and attempting to be polite.
"I must really look bad if you can't remember me." He drawled, nudging Potter's shoulder when his snoring got a bit louder. She frowned again, her brows knit, and looked at the patient sheet on a clipboard at the end of the bed.
"Draco?!" She exclaimed, dropping the clipboard and staring at him in shock.
"The one and only." He replied, smoothing Potter's hair when the other man shifted and curled up with his head on Draco's chest. Millie was pale and sat back down heavily.
"Lord and Lady." She sighed. "Well, I'm the hospital counselor."
"It's kind of a muggle practice, enhanced, of course, with magic. I help patients that seem troubled work things out. It seems to help a bit."
"There's nothing wrong with me." Draco replied, a little more coldly than he would have liked to sound. She'd always been very sweet, if a little bit of a mother hen to the entire house of Slytherin.
"Draco." she said, in her soft, no nonsense voice. "You're so emaciated that I didn't recognize you and I spent six years living in the same dorm with you. Do you see where I have trouble believing you?"
Draco didn't know exactly how to reply to that, and instead sighed softly, absent mindedly rubbing his cheek over Potter's hair. It was a lot softer than he'd have figured.
"Why did Potter just allow you not to eat?" Millie asked, tucking a bit of hair that had escaped it's French braid behind her ear. Draco sent her a quizzical look.
"What makes you think Potter would have a say in anything I do?"
"You aren't lovers?" she asked, staring at the man currently using Draco as a Teddy bear substitute.
"No." Draco replied, feeling a blush creep up his face. Thankfully, she just nodded and continued.
"Why didn't you eat then, Draco?" She asked, her brown eyes shining with concern.
"Is it crazy if I say I really don't know?" Draco sighed. Potter stirred a bit in his sleep, his arm tightening around Draco's waist. He realized somewhere in the back of his mind that this situation should, by all rights, be making him head for the hills screaming. Instead, he felt wonderfully calm and warm for the first time in a very long time.
"You don't have any inkling?" She asked, her face a soft caring neutral.
"I just….couldn't find a reason good enough to get up." He sighed. It seemed stupid.
"it's natural for you to be depressed, after everything that happened."
"It wasn't just depressed. I really wonder if I'm crazy sometimes. Honestly." Draco was confused by the look of relief that briefly flashed over Millie's face. "It… just… it's always quiet. I can't stand it. It hurts my ears and rings in them. I…It was quiet when my parents were Kissed. I feel like the silence is just… leading into something. Like I'm on the edge of a precipice, and I'm going to fall screaming at any moment. I know rationally that it's not possible for silence to kill me, but I'm terrified of it. It just… sets me off."
"Sometimes, our mind makes up an enemy that we can beat, something we can control, when our lives take a turn for the worse." Millie said. She was matter-of-fact, and it was nice, not being talked to as though he were slow in the head. "It's different for everyone."
"I… I don't use magic anymore either. I haven't really since.." He gulped down, and then looked down at Potter, to gage if he were still sleeping. He hadn't told anyone. Ever. Not a word to anyone, not his parents, not Severus, not Crabbe or Goyle. "Since Greyback raped me." He whispered. The flood of images were impossible to hold back anymore. He felt as though he were drowning in a tide of agony again, as though he were reliving it. He felt himself telling her every detail. His parents were out, doing something for the dark lord, and they'd left him alone in the Manor. Greyback wasn't supposed to be there. No one but Draco was. He'd been sitting in the parlor, reading a potions book, when he felt fingers dig into his hair.
"You're a bit older than I usually like them." Greyback had whispered, his horrid breath spilling out over Draco's ear, the stench roiling into his nostrils, Greyback's scabby lips pressing to the lobe. The rest was a blur of fear and pain. He got odd flashes, or Greyback pressing both their mouths together, and nearly throwing up into his mouth, ragged fingernails digging in to the tender flesh of his hipbones, and a horrible surging pain that seemed to get worse with every forced thrust.
"You never told anyone?" Millie asked, her eyes suspiciously bright.
"No. No one. We invaded Hogwarts again three days later, and then there was no one left to tell." Draco replied, wiping at the tears he felt flowing down his cheeks. He hated crying.
"Well, I wouldn't be surprised if just telling helps. You've been carrying a pretty heavy burden for a while. You don't have to carry it alone. And I bet if you told Potter, he'd understand too." Millie stated, patting Draco's hand.
"It's… it's not that I don't think he'd understand, it's just… we've fought for so long. Why should he care?"
"Well, I've spent a good deal of my life watching the both of you, and there's never been a more epic tale of pigtail pulling than both of you."
"Little boys are horrible to the girls they like more often then not. Usually when they're fancying a girl while still in the throes of the 'girls are yucky' stage. So, obviously being friendly would give the girl the wrong idea. So he pulls her pigtails, pinches her, knocks her over, puts a frog in her desk, anything to get her attention, all the while trying not to let her in on the fact that he likes her. It's also fairly common in guys later in age attracted to another male. You forget, I'm irritatingly observant. I watched you both dance around each other for years. The only time I think you showed real malice was when you broke Potter's nose on the train sixth year, and you had the complete capacity to do much, much worse than stomp his face."
Draco felt his own face flush, and he made sputtering protests, only to be rewarded with a patented Millie 'Oh really now?' face. He sighed, and then looked down to Potter's face, smooth and boyish in sleep, normally firm mouth gone soft in sleep. He tried to look objectively, without attempting to color it in either direction. Potter was attractive, no doubt about it. He had an oval face with an angle to his jaw, making it more masculine. His nose was straight, with a little bump in the bridge. He had straight brows, the messiest hair Draco'd ever seen, and a fan of thick black lashes making crescents above his cheekbones. Draco's heart caught again, and he recognized it for what it actually was this time. He was well and truly, head over heels in love with Harry Potter.
"Oh shite." He sighed. "What am I supposed to do, Millie? I don't… I don't think I could ever let anyone touch me that way again. And…"
"Worry about it when the time comes. If something scares you, don't do it. There are definitely more ways then one to be with someone." She winked, and Draco laughed a little, feeling more like himself than he had in ages.
"Well, if it's not taboo, could you tell me what you've been up to?"
"Oh, the usual. I married George Weasley." She grinned, as Draco felt his jaw hit his breastbone. "Yeah. We're actually expecting soon. Sorry to say I'm not showing yet, that's all there normally, but it won't be long before I do. It's twins."
"Congratulations. You never sent me an invite to the wedding though!" He scolded.
"Oh, yes, I did! It got sent back! Along with all my other letters!" She scolded back, waggling her finger at him. The familiar gesture made him laugh, jiggling Potter into waking.
"Well, you married into the right family at any rate. There will never be a shortage of people for you to mother." Draco smiled. Potter reached across his chest to grab his glasses, yawning loudly. Draco felt his heart catch again, those green eyes so close he could see the variegated fleck of colors in them.
"You seem like you're feeling better." He smiled, and then glance over at Millie. "Hullo, Millicent. How's George doing? I haven't gotten to see much of either of you lately."
"Good, good, he sends his love. You both should come out for dinner sometime soon." Millie winked. "I really do hate to cut it short, but I've other patients to see. Don't hesitate to ask for me if you need to talk again, Draco. Alright?"
"Yes, ma'am." He replied cheekily. He was still a bit shaken, but it was amazing how much better he felt. It was like a festering boil that someone had just lanced and let all the poison drain out of. It still hurt, but not in the same burning, stinging way. It was a dull ache now, more manageable.
"it's completely crazy how much she reminds me of Mum Weasley." Harry chuckled. "They make the same faces and everything!"
"Millie was the mother hen of Slytherin." Draco smirked. "She made sure everyone ate, that everyone had their homework done, and was always giving everyone advice."
"She's definitely suited to life as a Weasley then. She'll be knitting sweaters for everyone in no time." he chuckled, and Draco laughed too. It felt good to laugh, to smile, to just be here with Potter.
He stared at Potter's still sleepy face. His mouth was soft from sleep, his eyes a little squinty. His heart stuttered again, the machine beeping along with it. Draco felt his face blush hotly at Potter's confused look.
"Hey." Hermione greeted, as she walked through the door with Teddy propped up on one hip. Her eyebrows knit together as she looked at Draco. Teddy waved a hello, smiling a little. Draco waved back. His limbs didn't feel as heavy today. He was by no means a hundred percent, but his soul felt lighter than it had for a very long time, and the silence, lurking in wait beyond the radio didn't seem quiet so pressing.
Potter chatted amiably about seeing Millie, about how Hermione's work a the ministry was going, and teddy was getting a firmer grasp of the English language. He had brown eyes today, with a button nose and freckles. Draco surprised himself, holding his hands out for the boy, propping him up in his too thin lap, tickling him a little and asking him questions. He noticed that Hermione and Harry had fallen silent, and looked up, feeling his face flush hotly. Potter smiled widely, ruffling teddy's hair, and giving Draco and approving look.
It hit Draco straight in his heart, which made the spell beep loudly as it flopped in his chest.
Hermione's sharp eyes looked to Draco's heart and then to Harry's face, and then back to Draco's face, her eyes suddenly knowing, her lips quirking up a little at the sides.
It was more than a little infuriating that everyone seemed to know what he was feeling better than he did.
Hermione and teddy stayed for a while longer, and then teddy fell asleep on Draco's chest, with one of Draco's hands carding through his hair slowly.
"I think that's the cue to get the little man home." Hermione smiled, and picked up teddy gently so she didn't wake him, giving Harry a pat on the shoulder and smiling at Draco before leaving.
Potter curled back up in the bed, sliding his arms around Draco's waist. Draco's heart sped up, the machine beeping out it's rhythm. Harry looked confused, sliding his hand up to rest over Draco's heart with an odd look.
Draco swallowed hard as Harry looked up at him, his eyes obnoxiously green this close up. Draco bit his bottom lip, before releasing it, and, feeling bold, pressed his mouth softly to Harry's.
Harry let out a soft moan, pressing their mouths harder together, flicking his tongue over Draco's bottom lip, sliding his hands along Draco's neck and jaw. Draco waited for the fear, for the flashback, and when it didn't come, he fisted one hand full of Harry's shirt and kissed back, sliding their tongues together, groaning low in his throat.
They pulled back, panting, a few minutes later, Harry resting his forehead against Draco's. Draco ran his hands through Harry's soft black locks, reveling that though they looked coarse they felt wonderfully soft.
"Um… what was that for?" Harry asked softly, voice a little rough, those green eyes nervous.
"I think I figured out why my heart keeps skipping beats." he smiled, and pressed his lips to Harry's again.