Ten years Post-War. Draco, who has been living without magic, is attacked and severely injured. Potter, a single father, takes him in. HP/DM with a teensy tiny bit of DM/OC.
Warnings: Slash, of course. Some implied rape and violence. Also, some pretty realistic treatment of the practical challenges of living with a disability. If you can't take it, move along.
Part One: The Hospital
"Is it permanent?" A man's voice asked.
"There's no way to be sure, only time will tell," the Healer started to explain. They were whispering. It was really much too late for visitors. "This kind of curse can cause irreparable damage. But there have been some recent advances, and it's possible that he could make a full recovery."
"How long will it take?"
"There's no way to know. He has made considerable progress already. It could take weeks, or years," she said. The man beside his bed shifted. "Rehabilitation will be lengthy, and demanding, and quite expensive."
Another female voice joined them now, "you don't have to do this. There are… facilities… for people like him." The sneer in her voice was familiar, too. Yes, of course. People like him.
"I know," the man said, sounding impatient now.
Draco tried to keep quiet, pretending to sleep, but the voice was so familiar. He lay frozen in indecision until it was too late, as usual. The man walked out through the curtain, the Healers with him, and Draco was alone again.
He opened his eyes. It was night and the light that filtered through was dim. White curtains hung around his bed, creating a semblance of privacy in the massive room filled with other beds, other patients.
He had been sleeping, or almost sleeping, but now the pain was back again. He shifted his arms and turned his head, and a jolt of fire shot down his spine and radiated out through his legs. He groaned and tried to bite his lip to forget the pain. His right arm was throbbing. Someone on the far side of the room cried out, and the sound rang in his ears. He closed his eyes again, and with his good arm, pulled the covers up over his head, and tried to will the pain away. Tried to sleep.
Whoever the man was, and whatever he was going to do, it didn't matter. Nothing mattered anymore.
Sounds in the darkness. Banging, knocking. Rushing footsteps on the stairs, down the hall, in the room next door. A scream, and something shatters. Panic grips him, his heart is beating so loudly he can barely understand what the voices are shouting. All he thinks is: they're coming, they're coming.
Draco opened his eyes suddenly and realized he was covered in sweat, gripping the sheets. His jaw was sore, like he'd been clenching it for hours. He looked around and was unsurprised to see three Healers-in-Training standing at the foot of his bed reviewing his chart. Draco knew them by now: the short bubbly one (female), the tall dark one (male), and the quiet one (female).
He reached down tentatively under his sheets and breathed a sigh of relief when he found them dry.
Presently the Healer came in for Morning Rounds: they briefed her, she quizzed them, they examined him, he sneered at them, and then they all left. Their muffled voices carried over from the next patient, behind the next partition.
Draco reached for the urinal hanging off his bed. It looked like a wide-mouthed milk-jug with a handle you could to hook it onto the railings on either side of his bed. He rearranged the sheets, and tried to aim his erection and relax himself enough to piss, as tossing off first was not an option in this setting. It took a considerable amount of willpower, but eventually his bladder emptied and the erection went down.
Now for the truly miserable part. After delaying for as long as he could, he finally sucked it up and pressed the charmed buzzer next to his bed. Moments later Maggie, his grey-haired, bespectacled day-nurse peaked in through Draco's curtain holding a bedpan. Draco nodded reluctantly, and looked away, face reddening already.
She bustled in through the curtains, and pulled them shut behind her. Draco scowled, and she smiled benignly in her middle-aged matronly I've-seen-it-all way. She counted (most of them count): 'one, two, three' and then rolled him over onto his side. A whoosh of cold air as his bare skin was exposed by the open-backed gown. She tucked the bedpan under him and rolled him back over onto it. He winced at the cold metal. It was always so bloody cold. With a wave of her wand the back of the bed raised up for him so that he was almost sitting, and she propped his legs up, knees together and bent, feet parted. Then she left, closing the curtains behind her.
Draco took a deep breath tried to concentrate on evacuating and not on the abject humiliation that threatened to burst out in angry tears every fucking time he had to go through this.
Learning to use a bedpan had proven to be the most humiliating thing Draco had ever done. And that included the humiliation of his trial, of poverty, of wandlessness, of the life he'd been subjected to since then. Nothing in his life until now had prepared him for the utter humiliation of having to use a bloody bedpan. And nothing could possibly be worse, except, perhaps, having to ask to use the bedpan. Or confessing that you were through. Gods, more than a week of this hell and he still could barely look his nurses in the eye afterwards.
When his night nurse, Philippe, first explained it to him, Draco had been so horrified he refused to go for two days, until he finally messed the bed in his sleep. He woke up to find Philippe firing off cleaning charms and changing the sheets around him with a businesslike efficiency that was somewhat comforting, though only marginally.
He took to accepting it when offered, then, but it was three days before he could bring himself to request it.
Maggie returned when he was finished, leaning the bed back and lifting his knees for him to hold. He closed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and tried to remember flying. It was the only time he ever permitted himself the luxury of remembering flight.
The cleaning charms burned, then tingled. She vanished the contents with a flick of her wand and set the empty pan under his bed. All in all, he should probably be glad he was here and not in a muggle Hospital where it would probably be much more invasive. He watched her rearrange his legs and cover them with the blanket again. He didn't thank her, although he probably should. He just… couldn't.
Just as she was passing through the curtain, she turned back to him, "You had a visitor late last night. Another Auror. Maybe they caught the bastards," she offered half-heartedly.
Draco smiled ruefully at her. "I doubt it." She chuckled sadly, and left.
In the first day or so, several Aurors had come through, asked him questions, jotted down notes. Draco had refused all other visitors. Not that many had come. Pansy and Blaise had apparently tried at different times, but Draco refused to let anyone he knew see him like this. He had been out of the wizarding world for so many years, and this was no way to reenter it.
The Healers had made a hopeful prognosis but Draco was short on hope. Unfortunately he was still too immobile to actually finish the job his attackers had begun, but with a little luck, he'd manage it soon. He was already collecting the sleeping potion they would sometimes permit him, siphoning it into a single vial that he kept under the mattress. There just wasn't enough, yet.
Boots outside his door. Cruel laughter. His door flies open, light from several wands blinding him, terror seizing his limbs. They're here! They're here!
Draco woke up drenched in sweat, as usual. The three Trainee's were standing at the foot of his bed, as usual. He heard the Healer approaching for morning Rounds. She was talking to someone.
He sounded so familiar. Draco decided to feign sleep on the off chance that it really was someone he knew.
Draco heard the curtains being pulled back, and then closed again, and now he could hear them more clearly. The Auror stood at the edge of the bed and shifted his weight occasionally, as the Healer interviewed the Trainees.
"Spinal-cord damage from a curse; partial mobility in the right arm, full function in the left arm; sensation but no muscle control in the lower limbs; chronic pain at curse sites, at times severe; normal bowel function but limited bladder control," recited the bubbly one. Draco suppressed a wince of shame at the thought that five perfect strangers were standing next to him discussing his bladder control.
"Emergent injuries treated upon arrival?" the Healer prompted.
"Cranial hemorrhaging; multiple compound fractures and breaks to the maxilla, mandible, clavicle, and three ribs; severe damage to the colorectal tissue; a collapsed lung; and multiple organ failure due to severe blood-loss and hypothermia," droned the tall, dark one.
The Auror, whoever he was, made a quiet choking sound.
"He was left to die in the alley behind The Balding Banshee," the Healer added, disgust plainly audible in her voice.
"Yes… I know," came a halting reply. The man sounded much closer now, like he was standing beside the bed. Draco fought the urge to open his eyes.
Then he felt the shock of warm, calloused fingers touching his right hand, and he almost jerked away. The man turned his hand over and ran a single dry fingertip in a circle around his palm, then ghosted over the stumps where the pinky and ring fingers used to be. They were completely healed, now... the scar tissue unnaturally shiny and smooth. The touch sent a burst of something warm and bright shooting up through Draco's arm, and he suppressed a shiver.
"Digital amputation," remarked the quiet one.
"We never could find the fingers," the Healer explained, sounding almost apologetic.
"No, they would've wanted to keep them," the Auror said, like the others before him.
"We've made progress healing the older injuries, too!" the bubbly one added.
"Older… injuries…?" the man asked slowly.
"Oh yes. Breaks in the right ulna and radius, and several ribs, all healed without being properly set. There was also extensive epidermal scarring throughout the torso, and evidence of sexual assault and battery dating back at least five years, not to mention obvious symptoms of PSTD."
"The report doesn't mention…"
"No, of course not!" The Healer's voice cut in harshly. "Why would the mighty Auror office investigate the working conditions of former Death Eaters?"
She curtly excused the Trainees to go and prep the next patient, and then sighed heavily, "forgive my outburst."
"It's understandable," the man answered quietly.
"You will need to sign a considerable amount of paperwork, you understand. And someone will need to stop in and help you set up the necessary accommodation spells. St. Mungo's can provide a chair, although hopefully he won't need it for long. You may also want to transfigure a hospital bed, in which case our accommodations expert can help you."
Draco lay on the bed with his eyes closed, trying to understand what she was saying. A wheelchair… and a bed? What bed? Where? Was he being kicked out of the Hospital? He was pretty sure that treatment was free for wizards but his status after the trial was… complicated.
"You may want to hire a private nurse to check in and monitor his medications, at least for the first two weeks or so, and we can help you with that. Preferably someone familiar with the case and… sympathetic."
'Sympathetic.' Yes… there were plenty of staff who were not. He was lucky to have Maggie and Philippe. On their off-days, it was a crap-shoot whom he would get. Those were the nights he had to suffer through with no pain meds, because he was 'getting what he deserved.'
"Yes, I think that's a good idea, although I'm pretty sure I can manage most of it," he said, his palm covering Draco's almost possessively.
Who is this person? A long-lost relative? Not bloody likely. Draco had to know.
The Healer sighed, and said in a soft voice, "I cannot tell you how much I admire your desire to help, and I sincerely believe it would be the best thing for the patient, but it is not too late to change your mind."
"I'm just worried about changing his mind."
"Hmm… yes. Well, all the paperwork is with the legal rep. Good luck, Auror Potter, I daresay you'll need it."
Draco's stomach dropped through the bed and his heart began to race. Potter. Potter was here. Potter was here and seeing him… like this.
Scraping, and clunking, and a grunt told him that Potter had pulled over a chair and sat down. Draco's jaw clenched, but Potter didn't say anything. He just sat there holding Draco's mutilated right hand.
Draco braved a glance through the corner of his half-open eyes. He hadn't seen the man since the trial nearly a decade ago. He had looked thin then, too, but filled with a fierce determination to achieve what he called 'justice.' He'd testified for Draco and his mother. Potter was probably the only reason Draco was alive right now. They had parted on... amicable... terms. Potter had said, 'if you ever need anything, Malfoy, just owl me,' and Draco had considered doing so many, many, many times, but he never could bring himself to do it.
The man next to him was no longer the same boy he'd known in that feverish summer after the War. He looked… older. And even more tired. His hair was as messy as ever, but… were those streaks of grey at his temples? Already? He looked taller, his shoulders broader, but his robes still hung off of him. The red robes of an Auror. How predictable.
"What do you want, Potter?" he said tiredly, turning his head in time to see Potter jump in surprise and release his hand.
"Did you hear everything?" Potter asked.
Potter sighed heavily. "Then you already know."
"I've been saved by you enough to last me a lifetime," Draco answered, crossing his arms. The gesture was less effective than it had once been, now that his right hand hung limp from the wrist.
Potter sighed again, "Let's talk about it tonight, ok?" He stood up clumsily and left.
Philippe's shift started after dinner. He came in smirking with his hands behind his back and Draco rolled his eyes and pretended not to care. But Philippe's eyes glinted mischievously in his dark face, and finally Draco relented, and held out his hand.
"I pilfered from the batty old broad by the window," he said, the words rolling off his tongue like butter in his West Indies accent.
"Swine," Draco exclaimed, pretending outrage.
"Ungrateful git," he retorted. Draco smirked, and reached for a spoon.
Philippe was younger than Draco, but he couldn't be sure by how much. Probably about least five years or so. He looked even younger than that, though, his dark skin glowed and his perfect white teeth and pink tongue flashed when he talked, smiled. He filled out his nurse's uniform gracefully and Draco had taken a while to overcome the envy he still felt sometimes watching this young, whole, perfect man. Sometimes the contrast in their appearances seemed little more than a cruel mockery of the contrast between sickness and health.
He was just helping Draco get changed for the night, nimble fingers unknotting the old robe, brushing lightly against the scarred skin on Draco's back as he lay on his side, when a cough sounded from outside the curtain.
"Malfoy, are you decent?"
Draco almost laughed at the absurdity of anyone, even Potter, respecting his privacy at this point. Still he struggled to get into his new gown and cover his useless legs with a blanket before nodding to Philippe to open the curtain.
Potter walked in looking tired and impatient, and before Draco could come up with a suitably dismissive greeting, he started talking.
"Listen, I know you're not happy about this but will you hear me out, please?"
Draco huffed and turned away. Potter sighed.
"I would have come earlier, but you wouldn't take social calls and Percy is a prick and wouldn't put me on the case until two days ago. I've been reading the case file since then," he paused to pinch his nose above his glasses and rub his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. "Of course, they've made no progress," he said, and Draco was surprised to hear something like bitterness in Potter's voice, as though he expected no better.
"Well now that the Boy Wonder is on the case, I'm sure it'll wrap up neatly," Draco drawled.
Potter shrugged and shook his head. "I don't know. But… look, I know you don't have anywhere else to go. So either you come with me willingly, or I take you into protective custody."
"Because you're a material witness in an ongoing case…" he paused, and sought out Draco eyes, before adding, "and you're going to cooperate in order to avoid being charged with solicitation."
"What!" Draco felt his face growing hot and he shot at nervous glance at Philippe who was fiddling with the bedding and trying to pretend that he was not listening. His eyes had grown wide, but he didn't look up.
"That's what they've cooked up on you, and unless you fancy your chances in court again, you should take the offer."
Draco tried to hide the panic behind a sneer, but he was probably failing miserably, because Potter simply looked at him, the edges of his lips quirking, and said, "I'll be back in the morning to pick you up."
Potter nodded to Philippe, who followed him out, casting Draco an apologetic look.
Philippe came back to deliver a sleeping draught an hour later. "You should consider it, Draco," he said. Draco barely caught his eyes, but he was relieved that the man had decided to ignore the implications of what had come to light earlier.
"Potter hates me," Draco protested.
"He testified for you. Now he's offering to take you into his home. Why would he do that if he hated you?"
"Pity," Draco confessed. "The last thing I need is another person to hate and pity me."
"But think about it: in a house with all the accommodation charms set up, you'd have much more freedom. More independence."
"How? How can I possibly? I can't bloody walk!"
"No, but you could use a chair."
"Great," he rolled his eyes.
Philippe seemed to be thinking for a minute, and then he said, "How about this: no more bedpans."
"What…?" Draco felt his eyes going wide, "How?" he asked, swallowing his embarrassment with enormous difficulty.
Philippe shrugged, "Simple. You have a chair to get around, and support bars beside the toilet, charmed to make you light enough for your arms to support you. You don't even need a wand."
Draco stared at him. Philippe placed a hand on his shoulder, "We don't have the staff or equipment to really facilitate rehabilitation, Draco. And if he isn't bluffing about the charges, then you could be looking at fines, or even prison, and that would be much worse than this. You should take him up on the offer. It might be your best option."
More like my only option, Draco reflected bitterly. He certainly didn't have the money to pay for a defense lawyer. Much less private rehab. And Potter wasn't kidding, Draco really had no place else to go. He just wished he knew why Potter was doing it. And how he was supposed to manage living with him without dying of bitterness and regret.
"Will you come?" he blurted out, before he could stop himself. Philippe cocked his head and looked at him for a moment, and Draco wished the sheets would just swallow him up right now for being so bloody needy. "I mean, for check ups," he added.
"You know, he asked me. I wasn't sure how you'd feel about it, actually. Thought you might rather be alone with him."
"Why would I want that?" Draco asked a little too quickly.
"I thought… you two… didn't you used to…?" he trailed off, looking flustered.
"Used to what?"
"I thought there might have been a… history… between you, you know. The way he looks at you..."
Draco shook his head. "No, we hated each other in school. There was a time, right after the war, when I thought maybe there could have been…. but we lost touch," Draco sighed. There probably had never really been a chance, but he liked to imagine it, sometimes, when he was feeling particularly masochistic. "Anyway Potter is a straight-arrow Auror now on his way to Department Head. Probably already married, too."
Philippe grinned. "Well, ok. Gods know I need the extra money," he chuckled, and Draco chuckled, too. He could understand that now, what it was like picking up extra shifts whenever possible.
"Thanks," he said, swallowing the sleeping draught and steeling himself for the nightmares he knew would come.