Hi, guys. :) Finally, the story I mentioned at the end of After Effect. It is, indeed, darker than anything else I've written, and it delves into pretty serious issues as well, namely eating disorders. If that is a problem for anyone, or if there is any chance of relapse or trigger, I recommend not reading this. I don't want to be responsible for anything like that. I've gone through my fair share of the struggle, which is where I've gotten my background knowledge, and I am at a place where I feel comfortable writing about these things in a detached perspective.
This is not, as I had planned, complete as I am posting this, although it is planned out in its entirety and already halfway done. I'm not going to say how many chapters, because things change, as most of you well know. Especially when it comes to me. ;) For now, there shouldn't be any worries. It'll definitely get finished. I plan on updating every four days.
Special thanks to SlythERindoR, who has semi-beta'd each chapter. You're lovely.
As an additional, yet no less important, note, I would like to point out that the title of this piece of fiction—Manorexic—is an ambiguous word, and no offense is meant by its use. I will go more into depth in the story, but I wanted to make an initial note of saying that.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Pansy walked into the Great Hall mid-breakfast on a Tuesday morning and made a beeline for Blaise, who did not look particularly thrilled to be awake at the present. Goyle sat alone a short ways down, looking lost and confused without a co-idiot or a blond leader from whom to take direction. She sat down directly across from Blaise, snapping at a few younger students to clear out so she had room to do so. Blaise did not acknowledge her presence.
"Blaise," she said shortly. He looked up from his untouched plate of food without moving his head. "Are you unconcerned with Draco's whereabouts?" Blaise laid his fork down carefully and linked his fingers on the table.
"He told me he was going to sleep in and miss breakfast."
While someone else might not have noticed, Pansy didn't miss the underlying tone of worry in Blaise's voice. She relaxed minimally at the knowledge that Draco's behavior had not eluded him.
"You let him?"
Blaise glared at her before looking back down at his plate of food, seemingly contemplating his next words. Apparently, they didn't come quickly enough for Pansy.
"You should have dragged him out of—"
"It's one day, Parkinson," Blaise growled, staring intently at his food. "One meal—"
"You know goddamn well it's not just one meal," said Pansy, her mouth turned into a deep frown. Blaise chanced a glance at her before looking blankly over her right shoulder. "He hasn't been eating. Don't act like you haven't noticed."
"I haven't," he said, much too quickly. Pansy raised an eyebrow and Blaise threw the napkin from his lap down onto the table before proceeding to storm out of the Great Hall, Pansy in tow.
"How can you let this go?" she said once the Great Hall doors had shut behind them. Blaise began the descent into the dungeons, only managing to fuel Pansy's fire. She jogged to catch up to him and spun him around by his arm.
"He's fine!" he yelled, throwing her off. She merely folded her arms and glared at him. "Hop off his dick, Pansy! You can't throw a fit every time he skips a bloody meal! He's skinny! He's not always hungry!"
"How can you say that?" she hissed, and for a moment she thought about kicking Blaise right in the groin. "After the shit we went through with him these past two years. You can see his ribs, Blaise."
Blaise paled for a moment and looked away. Pansy was breathing heavily, thoroughly irritated by Blaise's shallow attempts at pretending like nothing was wrong.
"How do you know?" he said after a moment. Pansy frowned.
"Because I was in your dorm with him yesterday and he changed his shirt."
Blaise folded his arms across his chest and looked down.
"I know," he said quietly. "I've noticed."
"Then why, pray tell, didn't you forcehim out of bed this morning?"
"Because you know he doesn't work like that!" Blaise said desperately. "If I'd even hinted that I was thinking about that he'd have shut me out completely for who the hell knows how long!"
"Well, you can't just ignore it!" Pansy pressed her palms into her eyes and sighed. "Merlin, why does he have to do this?"
"Because he's sick, Pansy!" Blaise dropped his arms and laughed humorlessly. "For fuck's sake, he thinks he's fat."
"But I thought we'd gotten past that!" Pansy felt on the verge of tears. She was frustrated beyond words. How could this be happening again? She'd thought that, after the breakthrough she and Blaise had had with Draco back in July, things were finally beginning to heal. Draco had slowly begun eating again until, when they'd gone back to Hogwarts for a makeup seventh year in September, it had hardly been an issue anymore.
At least, that's what Pansy had thought.
But for a few weeks now she'd been seeing those signs again. The signs she'd become accustomed to in sixth year when everything had hit rock bottom for Draco. He'd periodically miss meals, giving them odd excuses for his absences, and when he wasthere he'd eat very little, claiming to have eaten before.
And then there were the bathroom breaks immediately afterwards. Bathroom breaks he'd come back from looking pasty and shaken.
"I don't know, Pansy," said Blaise, shaking his head. "Maybe we dropped it sooner than we should have. I mean, how can someone just get better in two months?"
Pansy leaned heavily against a wall and took a deep breath.
"So you think he's still been doing it this whole time?" she whispered. Blaise shrugged. "It's February. It'sFebruary, Blaise. And I've only just started noticing him not eating again in the past few weeks. You think he's been puking since September behind our backs?"
"I don't fucking know, do I?"
"This is serious!" Pansy shouted. "You must have caught onto his more frequent bathroom breaks recently! Why now? Why didn't we notice before!"
"Maybe he's getting sloppy! I don't know, Pansy!"
"The hell are you two yelling about?"
Both Pansy and Blaise spun around to find Draco walking toward them, one eyebrow raised in polite annoyance. Pansy stole a quick glance at Blaise, who had momentarily shut his eyes, presumably in order to compose himself.
"Nothing," Pansy assured him, plastering a smile onto her face. "Blaise is a prat." She saw Draco look at Blaise, but Blaise wouldn't catch his eye. Draco looked back to her in question. "It's fine. It doesn't concern you. Are you ready for class?"
Draco scoffed and readjusted the bag on his shoulder. Pansy noted, not for the first time, how frightfully thin Draco's wrists were.
"Yes," he drawled, "I'm positively itching to get to Charms."
"We have a test today," she said as they made their way back up to the entrance hall and ascended the marble staircase that led to the classrooms. Students had begun filing out of the Great Hall and the three Slytherins were jostled by students trying to get to class.
"Wonderful," said Draco, eyeing something ahead of them distastefully. Pansy followed his gaze and landed, predictably, on the Golden Trio, waiting outside the Charms classroom and chatting to other students.
"You're not prepared?" Blaise asked, speaking for the first time since they'd run into Draco in the dungeons.
"As ready as I'll ever be."
Pansy shot Blaise a pointed look behind Draco's back, one which he determinedly ignored. Draco had always been fairly competitive when it came to classes and exams. It was only a mark of the state of things that he didn't seem to care.
"You know, you should be taking this more seriously," Pansy said quietly to Draco, not meeting his eyes in case he decided to lash out at her. He'd been particularly sensitive lately.
Probably because he's not eating, she thought wearily.
He didn't say anything but Pansy could feel his cold gaze on her, ready to snap should she look up. She did so tentatively.
"It's not as though it matters," he said sharply, and then he looked away. Pansy heard Blaise laugh mirthlessly and tensed.
"Just because both your parents are dead and you've inherited the entire Malfoy fortune, Draco, doesn't mean you can slack off—" Blaise began nastily but was cut off when Draco shoved him in the chest, only managing to make Blaise lose his footing for a moment.
"Shut your filthy mouth about my parents, Zabini!" Draco shouted, and his voice was a bit hoarse.
Pansy grabbed his arm and tried to talk sense into him but he wasn't listening. His frail body was trembling with fury.
"Blaise, stop it!" Pansy shouted, but Blaise ignored her as well, preferring to glare at Draco instead. She knew it was born from his concern and his anger at Draco for making them worry, and she understood because she hated him for it too, but she also knew this wasn't the way to go about anything.
Harry had been talking to Seamus when a shout from somewhere close by interrupted him. He turned to find Draco Malfoy glaring at Blaise Zabini, positively shaking with rage, Pansy Parkinson at his side apparently attempting to cool him down. Harry hadn't the slightest clue as to what they were arguing about, but the next thing that came out of Zabini's mouth sounded rather harsh even to him.
"You're one to talk about filthy mouths, aren't you?" he spat, glaring at Malfoy. "Why'd you miss breakfast, Draco? Skipping the meal preferable to puking it back up this early in the morning?"
Harry heard Hermione gasp next to him at the same time that his own eyes went wide in shock.
What had he just said?
The corridor watched in silence as Malfoy walked up to Zabini and slapped him across the face before storming away and out of sight. Parkinson was looking at Zabini with tears in her eyes.
"That was really unnecessary," Harry heard her whisper, and then she was running after Malfoy. A few moments later Zabini, too, left, though Harry somehow doubted it was to find the other two.
The hiss of whispers broke out all along the corridor. Harry, however, remained silent, managing only to look at Hermione, who seemed just as stunned into silence as he was.
Ron, however, didn't appear to have any such qualms.
"The hell was that?" he said, looking to Hermione with his eyebrows scrunched. Hermione looked at him and then back at Harry, who shrugged as if to say "Don't look at me."
"I don't think we should be discussing it," said Hermione eventually, looking around at everyone else disapprovingly. "It's none of our business."
"They just had it out in the middle of the hallway," said Ron. "Besides, who cares? It's Malfoy. He has no feelings."
"Ronald!" Hermione glared at him angrily before turning away from both of them. "That is not something to be joked about. Now drop it. It's none of our business."
"I don't even know what just happened!" Ron yelled defensively, crossing his arms over his chest. "How can I joke about it if I don't even understand it?"
Harry tuned Ron and Hermione out in order to listen in on Lavender and Parvati's conversation nearby.
". . . know he was bulimic," Lavender whispered, and Harry thought he could hear a giggle in her voice. "He's always been skinny, hasn't he?"
"Not this skinny," Parvati said excitedly.
"What a scandal." Lavender's eyes went wide and a large smile grew on her face. "Draco Malfoy anorexic."
"That's disgusting." Ron leaned back in one of the chairs in the Gryffindor common room and made a gagging sound. "And just when I thought he couldn't get any worse."
"That is absolutely horrible, Ron," Hermione chided. "If Malfoy really is anorexic that's a serious issue. I hope his friends do something to help him."
"I just don't get where it came from," said Harry, not looking up from the Charms essay he was working on. "I mean, blokes don't usually care that much, do they?"
"Yeah, well, Malfoy's a complete ponce. It makes sense."
"Stop it," Hermione said harshly. "We're not talking about this anymore. Besides, we don't know it's true anyway. Lavender is known for starting rumors." Harry finally looked up from his essay and raised a brow.
"Have you seen him, Hermione? He's smaller than you."
"It's none of our business," she said for the umpteenth time, and to emphasize her point she flipped her book open and began taking notes. Ron rolled his eyes and Harry smiled at him before going back to his own homework. He wasn't particularly bothered about Malfoy. It was weird, of course, but it hardly affected Harry. If anything it made sense. Malfoy was too skinny. Had been since sixth year. Harry only wondered why the issue was surfacing now. If something like that had afflicted one of his friends Harry would have been on top of it from the beginning. But, he supposed, Slytherins would be Slytherins. And it wasn't as though Malfoy had very many friends since the war had ended.
Perhaps that was it. Perhaps it was the war. Both of Malfoy's parents had been killed. Maybe this was just his way of acting out. It seemed like something Malfoy would do. He was such a little prat.
Harry didn't understand what the big deal was. Malfoy would get over it eventually. He'd give up on making a scene, start eating again, stop puking for attention, and everything would be back to normal. Why did everyone have to make it into such a big ordeal? What Zabini had said had been harsh, sure, but . . . Harry thought the whole thing was being overdone.
"'Mione, can we please go to sleep?" Ron whined, slumping in his chair so low that his head was level with the rest of his body. Hermione raised a brow at him and Harry stifled a laugh.
"Have you finished your Charms essay?"
"Oh, really." She made to pull Ron's essay over but he snatched it out from under her hand, glaring as though she'd offended him.
"Okay, fine, I haven't finished! But it won't be good anyway because I'm so tired!"
"Fine, go to bed," she said, bending once more over the book from which she was taking notes. "But don't come crying to me when you don't have it done for Thursday."
Ron looked at Harry with a dramatic roll of his eyes.
Harry looked down at his own half-finished essay and pursed his lips in thought. He reallydidn't feel like writing this at the moment. He knew Hermione would give him that disapproving look, but right now he just couldn't be bothered to care. With a heavy sigh he stood up and packed his things away, smiling at Ron's triumphant punch in the air.
"I can't believe you two," said Hermione. "These are our N.E.W.T.s."
"We'll be fine," Ron assured her. "See you in the morning."
"'Night," she said curtly.
Draco stood in front of the large mirror in the Prefects' bathroom, his shirt and trousers lying forgotten near the tub. He was clad only in his pants and they hung precariously low on his lips, managing to stay up only because of his protruding hip bones. There was significant space between the elastic of the boxers and his stomach, but Draco didn't notice. He ran a hand over his abdomen, sneering at the sight of himself. He had no definition in his abs. This was due to the fact that he was very nearly emaciated, but that's not what Draco saw.
He pinched his skin and flinched at the sight. I am so fucking fat, he thought miserably.
He'd eaten dinner tonight. It was because of what Blaise had said, though he'd never admit to it. He was furious with himself for having messed up so badly. Blaise and Pansy suspected again. He'd done so well hiding it from them since September, if only because he'd been able to eat as long as he purged within the next hour. But in the past few weeks it had become more stressful to eat at meals. It was becoming increasingly difficult to wait any amount of time before puking. And so he'd begun skipping meals more often, giving his friends what he thought were legitimate excuses, and when he did eat he went straight to a bathroom afterwards.
But he hadn't realized he'd become so obvious. He'd thought they'd forgotten. After all, Pansy and Blaise had stopped bothering him about it only a few weeks into the school year. It hadn't been nearly enough time. He had been trying, albeit not very hard, to work through what Pansy had called his "eating disorder." But when they'd dropped it after only two and a half months he'd gladly gone right back into his old habits. Truthfully, he didn't think he had a problem. They had the problem if they didn't realize how badly he needed to lose weight.
His gaze drifted to the toilets and he felt his stomach turn. He'd purged about an hour after dinner, having made the excuse of having to use the loo while he'd been studying with Pansy and Goyle in the Slytherin common room.
But he still felt the food resting heavily in his stomach, and since it was nearly two in the morning and his roommates would hear it if he used their loo, he'd gone up to the Prefects' bathroom.
Draco walked into one of the stalls and knelt down in front of the toilet, assuming a very familiar position. He hunched over the bowl and wasted no time in sticking two fingers down his throat, prodding the back roughly until he felt himself gagging, and even then he didn't stop. He continued to prod until he felt his stomach heave and only pulled his fingers out when the bile came up.
It was easy now. Purging was routine. When he'd started, back in his sixth year, it had been much more difficult. Well, in all honesty, he'd tried earlier than that, as early as third year, but it had never worked until sixth. Draco thought it was probably because of all the stress sixth year. Refusing to eat and purging became a sense of control that he'd had nowhere else in his life. He'd started out using paper towels and toilet paper and toothbrushes. It had taken a while to be able to keep anything down there when he began to heave, but once he'd mastered that it had become much easier, until he didn't even need those things anymore. Just his hand.
It wasn't only about the control, though—it never had been until sixth year. For as long as he could remember Draco's parents had been very focused on looks. When he was younger his father would make snide comments about his body and wonder aloud why parents hadn't complained about the food at Hogwarts if it was doing thisto their children. His mother hadn't been any better, always telling him to remember to suck in his tummy.
He thought about this as he remained bent over the toilet bowl, arms resting on the seat as he breathed heavily. They were dead now and Draco hated himself for having let them down in so many ways. He'd let them down as a fellow Death Eater, a son, and a Malfoy. Malfoys were beautiful, they'd always told him. But Draco knew he wasn't beautiful. He was disgusting.
Lately, Harry had been waking up around one in the morning and was never able to fall back asleep. He'd taken to wandering the halls of Hogwarts for a while to tire out his body, and sometimes that worked, but most of the time it only wasted an hour.
Tonight was no different. He'd woken up at a quarter past one, but it was only at two that he finally gave in, hastily grabbed his Cloak, and headed down to the common room. By the time he made it to the portrait he'd already decided on his destination; perhaps a dip in the Prefects' tub would help to calm him enough so that he could sleep.
He didn't run into Filch or Mrs. Norris on his way down, and by the time he was pushing the door open and walking inside he really hadn't a thought in the world except the hot bath he was about to take and which bubble solution he'd use.
He'd just put his wand down and was beginning to toe off his trainers when he heard a door creak. He didn't even have to time to snatch his wand before none other than Draco Malfoy walked out into the open, clad only in his boxers. Harry felt his mouth open in surprise but he couldn't seem to do anything about it. What he was seeing—it looked like something out of a horror film. Malfoy's spine was clearly visible along the length of his back and Harry could see the vertebrae shifting beneath the skin when he moved. His ribs were visible, as well, and his hip bones. It wasn't in an entirely attractive way, either, although Harry had to admit he could tell that, were Malfoy in better shape, he would have a mouth-watering V. The V had been one of those things that had convinced Harry, back when he'd been struggling with his sexuality, that he really was gay. Blokes' hip bones just sent him wild—he hadn't the slightest clue why.
This, though, was unhealthy. He wondered vaguely why he'd never noticed before. Seeing it now, it looked as though one would be able to tell even when Malfoy had clothes on. But apparently not, because had Harry not been seeing this right now, he wouldn't have believed it was this bad.
It was as Malfoy grabbed his shirt and stood up that he noticed another presence, and he quickly used the shirt to cover himself.
"Potter!" he yelled, and Harry was almost startled to hear that normal, snarky voice come out. Harry shook his head, coming to himself and finding that his mouth had gone dry.
"I—sorry, I just . . . I—"
"What!" Malfoy spat, quickly tugging his shirt on and then his denims, a patch of color rising on his cheeks. The horribly skinny body was effectively covered up, but Harry felt like that image was burned into his retinas forever. And worse than that was the dawning realization that was slowly creeping into Harry's consciousness.
Harry tried to swallow the lump that had formed in his throat but it wouldn't seem to go away. He watched silently as Malfoy walked up to him and stopped. Harry knew he was staring, knew how obvious it was that he suspected what Malfoy had just done—but he couldn't seem to stop.
Earlier in the day it hadn't really registered. When Zabini had said those things about Malfoy—about him deliberately throwing up his food and refusing to eat—it hadn't really occurred to Harry that it was actually happening. Now, though. . . . Now he was faced with the aftermath of such an incident only minutes after the fact. He felt his stomach lurch as he realized Malfoy had literally just been kneeling over a toilet bowl with his fingers down his throat, puking up whatever food was left in his stomach from the day.
"What the fuck are you staring at?" Malfoy growled. Harry could only manage a feeble shake of his head.
"Nothing," he said quickly. Malfoy sneered at him before apparently deciding to let it go, bumping harshly into Harry's shoulder as he passed him. Harry felt how bony it was and flinched.
Even when the door shut loudly behind him Harry could only continue to stare blankly ahead, still stunned by what he'd seen. Malfoy was hurting himself. Fuck, he was killing himself. He nearly looked like a corpse already. Harry found himself wondering how much longer the boy could possibly survive.
He turned the water and bubbles on mindlessly, his thoughts centered entirely on what he'd just seen. He couldn't even bring himself to relax completely when he slipped into the aromatic water.
It was his goddamn hero complex and he knew it. He couldn't see something like that—someone literally aiding in their own deterioration—without feeling like he needed to personally get involved. Especially when he'd just had such a close encounter with the problem itself. He began to wonder if he should have said something . . . done something, even. But a small voice, one that rather sounded like Hermione, told him that would have been a terrible idea, and he clung to that, because even though this was someone who was really and truly fucked in the head, it was still Draco Malfoy, the boy who had once been the bane of his existence.
But then he began to wonder why Malfoy was doing this. Earlier he'd pinned it on the war, but . . . this just seemed so much deeper than Harry had previously thought. It felt less like a temper tantrum and more like an issue that had roots in several places. He just didn't know what they were. And that part of him that hadn't reared its ugly head since sixth year—the part of him that was, for whatever reason, obsessed with Malfoy—desperately wanted to find out.