The stone corridor coiled and curled in a mock imitation of a snake. In a silence broken only by the scuffling of feet and the huffs of breath the mismatched pair made their way steadily through the flickering firelight. Draco kept a close eye on Potter, ready to catch the broken man if necessary, but Potter held his own. After several hours of an eerie silence and long shadows Draco decided that a break was needed, especially for a wavering Potter.
He halted in the middle of the corridor. "Let's stop here, I need to rest," he lied for Potter's sake, knowing that even hinting at Potter's incompetence might cause Potter to regress.
Potter shot him a look, one hinting at a softer emotion, most likely gratitude, but he couldn't be sure. Instead he stretched, sending his arms above his head, and lowered himself onto a cold floor. Potter followed in his stead, sitting with a slight grimace. He longed to whip out his wand and cast a few healing charms, a couple of diagnostic charms to see what was wrong, make a few potions, and ultimately heal the broken man across the hall, but he couldn't, not until Potter got over his fear of wands and/or magic. A sigh escaped his lips as he wondered for the hundredth time what he had gotten himself into. He didn't think he wanted to know. He would get Potter out of here safe and sound, hopefully within the next few hours, and take him to St. Mungo's, where the healer could patch him up and the mind healers would do there damage.
He bit his lip as anxiety coiled in his stomach. So far he had found a broken Potter, a lake full of dead, and a message that looked as though it knew about his past, yet the one responsible hadn't come into the picture. If someone had gone through all of the trouble to spend a fucking four years torturing the Boy Who Lived they would keep their 'prey' at all cost, right? So, where were they…?
Not wanting to psych himself out any more he shook his head and turned his thoughts away from that train of thoughts. Instead he shot a glance at Potter, who was leaning against the wall, a thin veil of perspiration covering his forehead, hands trembling slightly.
"You all right Potter?" he asked. He waited for the scornful look he was sure he would have gotten if he had asked thee question while they were still in school, but instead he got a small shrug and closed eyes.
"You hungry?" he asked, trying a different tack. This time a nod became his answer. He grabbed a muffin from the bag and-remembering this morning's incident- slowly walked over and set it down next to Potter. Another nod followed, this time of thanks, and a mutilated hand reached out to snare the breakfast pastry.
Slowly, aware that he was pushing his luck, he sat down. Potter watched him closely, no emotions reflected in the single green eye. He studied the other from the corner of his eye, gauging the reaction. Though Potter tensed a bit, no panic attack or full blown terror ensured. He cast a small smile to Potter, hoping to ease the other mans nerves, before settling down in a semi-comfortable position and laying his head against the wall, finding a subdued interest in the ceiling.
The idea of sleep tantalized him, reminding him of his all nighter and previous sleep deprivations. He knew he couldn't spare sleep now, but the idea was a good one, and one he entertained for a few minutes before he became aware of soft rustling. He cracked an eye open that found the other man, who was standing and looking anxious to go. Sighing, he got to his feet, wishing for just a few more minutes of rest.
"Do you know a way out of here?" he asked, careful not to come to close to the other man. Potter hesitated before shaking his head. Another sigh before he shrugged and shook his head roughly to clear the cobwebs from his thoughts.
"Ready to go?" A nod answer.
He headed off, making sure Potter followed. As they continued he began to despair, only his tight self control keeping it from showing. There was no entrance, no turn offs, no splits in path, nothing. It was like they were walked in circles, yet they were going straight. It was infuriating. Anxiety crept back into his stomach as another thought struck him. What if the corridor was enchanted, forcing whoever walked them to go round and round until they died? What if they were walking through the same corridor over and over and over and over again? Panic began to grip his thoughts, sending small tremors through his hands. The fate of dying in this barren place, never to see the sun again, stuck underground, in a near dark, lost… it was a Hell he had experienced. It was a nightmare he relived too many nights. It was a reality that happened only a few short years ago. It might be reality…
Unable to stop these thoughts anymore, unable to keep himself together as the past blended with reality, he sank to the floor, trying to control his breathing. He was faintly aware of Potter stopping to look at him with fear, he was faintly aware of the cold stone and sharp rocks digging into his knees, he was faintly aware of the sharp whistle of his ragged breathing, and yet he was unable to change any of it. Memories, ones that he had tried so hard to drown in work and for a while medication, came rushing back. Dark shadows danced on the wall as another body withered. Cold stone bit through his skin, dragging blood from the safety of their home. Sweaty hands, harsh and demanding, yanked and grabbed at him, tearing at clothes, hair, and skin. He tried to scream, but something had been stuffed in his mouth, forcing him to snatch labored breathes through his nose, and hold back waves of saliva that tried to flood his mouth and drown him. Black teased the edges of his vision, a desperate wish that refused to come true. A hot body forced its way onto him. Pain blossomed and blood ran through the path of destruction the hands left. He was suddenly thrown onto his stomach, face pressed against the cold floor, a single rock digging into his cheek, threatening to break the skin.
Too hot hands continued their rampage. They caressed, hurt, damaged him as the owner of those hands had his fun, finding pleasure and release in his pain and suffering. When the hands where done they left. A door closed, a lock bolted, and he was left alone in the dark. Dried cum and blood coated his legs, scratches and bruises covered his body, cold numbed everything, and all he was left with was the memory of burning hands, making him feel unclean and vile. Tears welled and fell down his cheeks. Sobs threatened to choke him, but at the moment he couldn't care, it hurt too much to care. And besides, death would be a blessing by this point. The darkness that had been teasing earlier came for him, dragging him away from all the pain and suffering, and he followed gratefully.
Hands rested on his hair. He flinched, waiting for the pain sure to come. Instead the hands whispered frantically through the soft strands, tugging gently, but not painfully. As the fear slowly subsided he was able to tell that these hands were different. They weren't the sweaty hot slabs of meat that hurt and humiliated him. These hands were warm and slightly ragged. They were timid and scared, but still gentle, though speaking of urgency. Something was wrong with them though. He could only feel the palm and the beginning of the fingers, as though someone was their fingers up. But that was a rather odd thing to do, especially since fingertips held the most sensitive nerves that feed the sense of touch. Then why would they only use their palm, unless… they didn't have fingers…
The haze of the past lifted, shoving him into the harsh reality that faced him. Upon opening his eyes he saw Potter, eye frantic, and clawing at his hair in a desperate attempt to wake him. Tears threatened to overwhelm the green eye, fear shook the thin body, and desperation forced touch. He felt the overpowering need to yank away from the touch, to curl in on himself, protect himself. Yet, the shock of seeing Potter touch someone willing held him still. A hand hesitantly, yet determinedly glided down to his cheek. Harry's face, for it was impossible to refer to the other as Potter at such a moment, drew closer as the hand softly tried to shake him awake.
Harry caught sight of his open eyes. He waited, breath drawn, wondering what the others reaction would be. Shock became his reaction as tears swept down Harry's face and a small body collapsed, forcing him to hurry into a half sitting position to catch the other. He wrapped his arms around the other, body tensing at the sensation of being so close to someone, but not cruel enough to pull away. Harry had gone through unspeakable horrors, who was he to deny him such a simple comfort of touch, even if that was the last comfort he wanted to give.
What seemed like hours later, though it was only a few minutes, Harry pulled away. He hid his sigh of relief, not wanting to show his discomfort and risk hurting Harry.
"Sorry," he mumbled, staring at the ground in front of him as he moved into an upright position. The horror of what had just happened slowly washed over him. He had a flashback and a panic attack in front of a man who had just been tortured for four years. The last flashback he had had was seven months ago. He though they were gone…
A touch on his cheek made him wince, but the touch was persistent, the hand dragging his chin up to face the other. He reluctantly looked at the other, eyes locking upon a green one. Thin, cracked, and harshly bitten lips mouthed something, forcing his gaze to concentrate on them.
"Thank you,' they read. And that was all that was needed before he collapsed into sobs.