Disclaimer: I do not make a profit off of this piece of literature and I give full recognition to JK Rowling for her works.
Thank you 13 eleMENTAL 31, InsaneOrange and Maiden of Books for your beta skills!
The first block of italicized text is a passage from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, pp. 595-6, Raincoast/Bloomsbury, published 2007.
The bang was like a cannon blast, and the golden ﬂames that erupted between them, at the dead center of the circle they had been treading, marked the point where the spells collided. Harry saw Voldemort's green jet meet his own spell, saw the Elder Wand fly high, dark against the sunrise, spinning across the enchanted ceiling like the head of Nagini, spinning through the air toward the master it would not kill, who had come to take full possession of it at last.
And Harry, with the unerring skill of a Seeker, caught the wand in his free hand as Voldemort fell backward, arms splayed, the slit pupils of the scarlet eyes rolling upward. Tom Riddle hit the floor with a mundane finality, his body feeble and shrunken, the white hands empty, the snakelike face vacant and unknowing. Voldemort was dead, killed by his own rebounding curse, and Harry stood with two wands in his hands, staring down at his enemy's shell.
One shivering second of silence, the shock of the moment suspend: and then the tumult broke around Harry as the screams and the cheers and the roars of the watchers rent the air. The fierce new sun dazzled the windows as they thundered toward him.
He crumpled to the floor, wands clutched to his heart and eyes fluttering shut.
It had been five years since…
Draco Malfoy stood by the one-way window, arms folded against his chest and passively staring at the patient on the floor. It was supposed to be Harry Potter. Draco tilted his head, trying to find a flicker of recognition in his mind. It was supposed to be Harry Potter, but it wasn't. No one had heard from Harry Potter in five years. No one had seen Harry Potter in five years. Many believed him dead. Out of sight, out of mind. The man was sitting on the floor, his back resting against his bed. He was gazing at the wall across from him. Gazing at nothing, from the looks of it. Catatonic.
It was supposed to be Harry Potter, but it wasn't.
"Healer Warren will see you now."
Draco nodded and followed the Apprentice down the empty hall. Morose paintings hung limp, as though the ward was not allowed to be cheerful. The walls were sterile white and lit with bright lights. It was eerily quiet. Draco passed many cells, each holding a patient with debilitating illness of the mind. He wasn't fazed. After what he had been through, nothing could stir him. He was as blank as Harry, in some aspects. He entered the large office of Healer Joseph Warren. He was gestured to take the seat. The Apprentice left the men and closed the door behind her. Draco nodded at Joseph in greeting.
"I will get right to the point, Mr. Malfoy," the Healer said. Draco glanced over the distaste in his tone. It was how the people will continue to talk to him – with disgust and loathing. Even after trials, he was not exempted in the eyes of the people. They hated the sight of a former Dark army member in their midst. Draco was used to it. The large man continued. "As I had indicated in my letter, this is in relation to Harry Potter." Draco nodded again. "What do you know of his condition?"
"Nothing," Draco answered.
"After the War, it took him a year to just regain consciousness. It wasn't so much a coma as it was deep sleep. It is a… rather severe case of post-traumatic stress disorder. Usual PTSD patients are violent and vocal. They are unable to live down their experiences. They see visions of the trauma, hallucinations essentially. It is quite easy to treat such patients because they manifest what is known as positive symptoms. That is, their behavior is added onto their usual manner of living.
"In Mr. Potter, we see negative symptoms. Instead of adding onto his usual behavior, his usual behavior is lost because of the trauma. Instead of being volatile, he is passive. He is incapable of understanding instructions. He does not show signs of needing social interactions. In essence, he is living in his head. Because of this, we do not know what he is experiencing." Here, Joseph paused, leaning back on his chair.
"So?" Draco asked.
Joseph pondered over the man before him for a long while. The Healer was rather formidable. His thick white hair and creased face accented his wise appearance. He took over the room with his presence and his size. He had kind brown eyes, but at that moment they were hard with tension. Draco did not break the contact, keeping his own expression as passive as the Healer's. "So," Joseph said, "almost a month ago, he spoke your name."
Draco frowned. "Pardon?" he murmured.
"Since then, we have tried to coax more out of him. But he spoke it once and never after. Would you know why?" Joseph asked, searching Draco's expression. From what the Healer could see, Draco had even less of an idea as to why Harry would do that.
"It's just a mistake," Draco said, shaking his head.
"Malfoy. That is what he said."
"Why?" Draco asked incredulously.
Joseph stood up. He rested his hands on his belly absently as he paced behind his desk. "I am out of options, Mr. Malfoy. I would not call you unless this was absolutely necessary. Last resort. But we would require full cooperation," he said.
"I need to stimulate his memories. We have tried friends. We have tried prized possessions. We have tried nearly everything." Then Joseph smiled wryly. "We've never tried enemies."
Draco stiffened, staring at the inkwell with purpose. "No," he said.
Joseph paused in his pacing. "No?" he asked distantly. He was expecting as much.
"No," Draco reiterated, getting up. "I am not willing to cooperate."
"The Minister has requested you participate."
Draco froze, turning around. "What?" he asked. "The Minister?"
"It will be counted towards your parole duties."
"You're forcing me to cooperate?" Draco asked as his fists clenched.
Joseph held Draco's murderous glare. "Yes. We are."
Draco found himself watching Harry again. Apprentice Lily Swade was beside him. "What is he doing?" Draco asked.
"Do you see how he is smiling?" Lily asked softly.
Draco studied the raven-haired man. He still looked like a seventeen-year-old, as though he were stuck in time. The healthy glow on his skin was gone, pale from being indoors for years. His hair was cut short, easier to manage. He wore hospital clothes – grey button down shirt, pajamas and socks. His expression was unnerving. He wasn't smiling. "I don't see it," Draco answered. Harry was staring at a spot on the blank white wall, shoulders hunched and knees pulled up to his chest.
"Hmm…" Lily murmured. "I've been with him for years, so I guess it's easier for me to see. He is thinking about happy memories today. He doesn't do that often. It's a good thing you came by now. He might take to you better."
"Healer Warren said that he does not interact with people," Draco said, looking down at the petite blonde.
"He doesn't. I'd be wary if I were you. It took him almost a year to get used to me," Lily said. "He is gentle, so don't worry about him hurting you. Once he gets accustomed to you, I won't be visiting with you. Healer Warren thinks it will be best if Harry met with you without other distractions." She straightened her robe. "I will go in first and you can watch how I work with him. If he is having a good day, I'll introduce you to him. Does that sound alright?"
"Not as though I have a choice…"
Lily looked at Draco for a beat longer before opening the door. He watched through the window. She walked quietly, approaching Harry without startling him. She knelt down beside the man and held her hand out in front of him in his field of vision. Draco saw Harry blink twice before turning to Lily. Draco couldn't hear anything, but he saw Lily's lips moving. Harry went back to looking at the white wall, his head tilted towards Lily slightly, as though listening. She placed her hand on Harry's shoulder. He inched away from the touch. Lily pulled her hand back, still speaking. Harry glanced at her again. She became excited now, looking at Draco with a wide grin. She got up, waving at Harry.
She hurried out of the room, her grin never wavering. Draco looked at her expectantly. "He's doing amazing today, actually," she said after closing the door. "He doesn't usually acknowledge me. But he did right now! I think he will be fine with seeing you. Ready?"
"Not really," Draco murmured, queasy.
"Like I said, he doesn't bite," she said patiently, opening the door. "Follow my lead, okay?" She let Draco walk in, stopping him just inside the room with a hand on his arm. The room was three meters all around with dark hardwood floor, had a large curtained window that looked out into the expansive green grounds, and housed a table, chairs, and a bed. It was airy and fresh. She closed the door and moved towards Harry. She knelt down next to him. Draco followed suit, sitting behind her. Lily held her hand in front of Harry's eyes again. Harry blinked out of his reverie and turned to the Apprentice.
"Hi, Harry," Lily said quietly. "Be a dear and smile for me?" Harry's eyes roved Lily's face before turning to the wall. "You're doing so well!" she exclaimed, giggling. "I brought a new friend." Draco nearly scoffed at this introduction. She motioned for him to hold his hand out in front of Harry.
Draco scooted forward and imitated Lily, his palm facing towards Harry's eyes. Harry blinked and turned. The clouded green eyes stared into uncertain grey ones. "Remember him?" Lily asked.
Harry looked away again, his expression unchanging and blank. Lily gasped and laughed with enthusiasm. "Are you shy, Harry?" she asked, her eyes twinkling when she flicked them at Draco. "He's blushing. Do you see?" Sure enough, Draco saw a faint red tinge creep up Harry's ears. "He will be visiting you again, okay? I want you to be nice to him. I'll see you later," she said. Harry kept his eyes on the wall, his pink-stained cheeks returning to normal as she spoke. She got up and Draco followed her out the room.
"How did that go?" Draco asked hesitantly.
Lily laughed, looking at Harry fondly through the glass. "It went very well. He gets shy when he sees a familiar face, that's all. He recognized you! That's brilliant!"
Draco wasn't so sure if it was. "Do people come visit him often?" he asked.
"Not quite as often anymore," Lily said. "Ron and Hermione visit the most, understandably. He enjoys their visits. Don't let his demeanor fool you. He likes company. Unfortunately, company doesn't like him."
"He looks quite depressing," Draco murmured.
Lily bit back her sharp retort. "He has been through a lot," she said instead.
"We've all been through a lot," Draco responded bitterly. "He's just managed to escape it all."
"I wouldn't judge so quickly."
"He's quick to judge me. Why wouldn't I be quick to judge him?"
Lily closed her eyes in exasperation. "You shouldn't be this insensitive," she said, walking away.
Draco blinked after her, a nagging headache blooming between his brows. He sighed and turned back to watch Harry.
"You're what?" Ron nearly shouted, jumping out of his chair. "You're doing what?"
Joseph looked at Hermione for help. She wasn't giving him any as she stared out the window with conflicting emotions playing across her face. "We are running out of options here, Mr. Weasley. Now, if you would just–"
"We're his legal guardians!" Ron said angrily. "And you didn't think it was wise to notify us? We're talking about Malfoy! He– he would rather kill Harry than help him!"
"Ron," Hermione said, wrapping her fingers around her husband's hand. "Sit down, okay? We'll talk this out."
He sat down heavily, fury in his eyes. "I want to know everything that will be happening at these sessions. And I want full supervision at all times," he demanded.
"Of course, of course," Joseph said in appeasement. "We will give you full disclosure of the treatment procedures."
"Why him?" Hermione asked, looking pained.
Joseph leaned forward, taking off his glasses while in deep thought. "He is the only thing we haven't tried, Mrs. Weasley. We are grappling at straws here. Any change in Harry is now coined as an improvement." The Healer looked desperate. "If Mr. Malfoy is able to bring about this change, wouldn't you want to try?"
Ron raked his fingers through his hair, apprehension eating away at him. "Has Harry met with Malfoy already?" he asked. Joseph nodded. "And?"
"And Harry recognized him," Joseph said.
"Again, that is not saying much. He is able to recognize nearly everything from his life. What we need to find out is why Harry spoke. And I want to know what I can do to make him speak again."
Healer Warren and Apprentice Swade stood at the observation window. He was quickly jotting notes while she was reciting Harry's progress. She stopped midway, clicking her tongue in frustration. "I wanted to talk to you about Malfoy," she said.
"Mhm…" Joseph murmured, knowing what she was about to say.
"I think having him meet Harry could do more harm than good," she explained.
"He doesn't provide the support Harry needs. He is bitter and harsh about everything. He was being critical of Harry! How could he be like that?" she asked.
"We've tried supportive and loving. Perhaps it is time to introduce hate and anger."
Lily looked at the Healer in disbelief. "You can't be serious!" she exclaimed. "He has gotten this far because of all we have done for him."
"Now we see what Mr. Malfoy can do for him," Joseph said. "At the first sign of deterioration, we will stop. I am just trying to help Harry."
"I know," Lily said begrudgingly.
The next time Draco visited, Harry held the gaze a little longer than before. Lily was beaming proudly. "You're doing so well, Harry," she gushed. She tried touching Harry's shoulder again. Harry shifted away. "Still not used to it, huh? That's okay. We have all the time in the world."
Once they were outside the room, she turned to Draco with her hands on her hips. "You could try smiling once in a while, you know?" she muttered.
"Nothing to smile about, is there? This place is sad as hell," Draco said, waving his hand up and down the blank corridor.
"Definitely not for Potter."
"You are quite hard to work with," Lily said caustically.
"Especially since I don't want to be here," Draco mumbled.
"It's not like you have anything better to do, do you?" she asked. Draco didn't answer, remaining tight-lipped.
"Does he ever get out of that room?" Draco asked Healer Warren.
"No. His room is his world."
"Have you tried?"
"Yes. I believe it overwhelms his senses. He can't be over stimulated," Joseph said.
"Pathetic way to live," Draco said, almost to himself.
Joseph tried to keep from rolling his eyes. "But it is his life now, Mr. Malfoy. I hope you understand," he said.
"How do you know he wants it?"
Joseph tensed. "What do you mean?" he asked.
Draco kept his eyes on the Healer as he repeated, "How do you know he wants to live like this?"
"As opposed to?"
"Being dead," Draco clarified impassively. Joseph let out a frustrated breath, leaving Draco to find his own way out of the hospital.
Hermione sat cross-legged on the ground with Harry while Ron stood by the curtains. "Look what I brought, Harry," she said. She held up a photograph of Rose for him to see. "She's so grown up now. She's standing up and all," Hermione said. Harry focused in on the moving picture of a young redhead in a white sundress, bouncing on her curled feet and giggling to show patches of pearly teeth. "Isn't she adorable?" Hermione asked, laughing. Harry looked up from the photograph towards Ron. Ron smiled back, jerking his brows questioningly.
"He is doing much better," Lily said enthusiastically.
"He is… I'm glad," Hermione murmured.
"It's been a week since he's had a depressive state. Hopefully it stays away for a while longer," the Apprentice said.
"I wanted to ask about Malfoy," Ron said, looking at Lily pointedly.
Lily leaned against the wall, looking defeated. "I have no idea what Healer Warren wants. Mr. Malfoy is not providing the best environment for Harry. He is a reluctant participant in this treatment."
"But is he doing anything to hurt Harry?" Hermione asked nervously.
"He's been here almost everyday. So far, nothing has happened," Lily shrugged. "We don't do much. I talk to Harry and he sits here with us. Harry recognizes him and looks at him at times. But that is about the extent of it."
"If something goes wrong–"
"We will stop," Lily reassured.
"Okay. Good. I know you're just trying to get him better," Ron said, looking at Harry sadly.
"It's a slow improvement. But it's been steady," Lily said.
"Did you hear that, Harry?" Hermione said with a smile. "She says you're doing great!"
Harry stared at the wall, listening to the mindless chatter.
"Don't want to talk today?" Lily asked. "It's okay. We all have one of those days." Harry sat still, having ignored both his nurse and Draco that day. "Are you thinking about sad things, Harry? You shouldn't. There isn't anything to be sad about anymore. We will just–"
Draco exhaled forcefully, frustration bursting out of him. "Why are you talking to him like he's a child?" he asked.
Lily looked shocked. Harry was staring at Draco with wide eyes, startled by the harsh tone. "I told you not to speak," Lily said quickly. "He doesn't know your voi–"
"He's known me for seven bloody years! Of course he knows my voice!" Draco exclaimed. "He's twenty-two! Not five."
"Get out," Lily said angrily.
"Gladly," Draco snapped, getting up on his feet. "No wonder he hasn't gotten better. You're coddling him to the point of insanity." Lily was quite close to hexing Draco. The man stomped towards the door.
Draco spun around in shock while Lily nearly fell over onto her side. Harry searched Draco's face, the residue of the laugh on his lips. After a few seconds, he went back to looking at his wall.
"I– I'll be right back, Harry," Lily stammered, struggling to her feet and pulling Draco out of the room with her. Draco was dragged to Healer Warren's office. He wasn't struggling. He had no idea what had just happened. Lily threw the door open. "Harry laughed!" she nearly squealed.
Joseph looked up in confusion. "I'm sorry?" he asked.
"Laughed at him," Lily said, jerking her thumb at Draco.
"I didn't do anything," Draco said quickly, holding up his hands in surrender.
"What did he do?" Joseph asked, getting up from behind his desk.
"Mr. Malfoy was ranting," Lily said, glaring at Draco, "and just as he was about to leave, Harry laughed at him."
"Ranting… Ranting about what? In front of Harry?" Joseph asked in disbelief.
Draco wasn't given a chance to answer. Lily interjected with, "He said that we treat Harry like he's five."
"Oh?" Joseph murmured with a hint of amusement. He walked towards Harry's room, Lily and Draco behind him. "I guess we'll have to stop doing that then, won't we?" He opened the door and stepped in, smiling at Harry. "Hello, Harry," he said, his wand out. He started on preliminary assessment charms while Harry looked up at him.
Lily sat down next to her patient with a cheek-splitting grin. "You're happy now, aren't you? Are you thinking happy thoughts?" she asked. Harry's eyes followed Joseph's wand warily. Draco hung back, unsure of whether he should be in the room.
"Vitals are good," Joseph murmured, crouching down on the other side of Harry. "I hope you realize that this is a wonderful improvement, Harry," he said.
Harry looked up at Draco. Draco felt his signature scowl dawning on his brow. Harry stared at the scowl. Then he bunched his face together, scowling back. Lily looked like she was going to choke. Joseph sat up, interested with the new appearance. Draco saw the scowl from Harry and his faltered, making room for surprise. His eyes grew wide and his jaw slackened. Harry's eyes grew as well and his jaw fell open. "Stop it," Draco snapped, crossing his arms in front of his chest.
"Stop it," Harry whispered haltingly, crossing his arms against his chest.
Joseph laughed rambunctiously while Lily tried to stop herself from hyperventilating. "You've done it now, Mr. Malfoy," the Healer said happily.
"What?" Draco asked, lost in Harry's world.
"What?" Harry repeated.