Awake

The first sense that alerted him to his vitality was not pain as he would have suspected, but rather the feeling of a petite hand gently covering his own. His body was stiff, as if the muscles were encased in cement to force them into their current position.

The subtle rustle of turning pages drew his attention outwards and away from his own musings. The person next to him was familiar and comfortable enough with him to hold his hand while they read. This unknown person, caring enough to stay with him and expecting nothing more in return than quiet companionship was more of a miracle than his own survival. That realization gave him pause. He was alive and being taken care of, not in Mungo's (the bed was too soft to be a cot), not in Azkaban (there would not be a bed at all, let alone a companion beside him), and most likely not at Hogwarts (Madame Pomfrey would certainly have blown through by now for one reason or another to check on him). So where was he?

This lack of knowledge made him want to grind his teeth in frustration and he wished more with each passing minute to be able to at least open his eyes and find out his location. He knew he would be unable to speak to the person next to him for some time, at least not until he could get some water to sooth his ragged throat. With much concentration he focused intently on the muscles he previously in his life had such strict control over, using the full force of his will. This struggle continued in silence until finally he felt the slightest twitch in his left eye. Success! The relief over this minimal movement was immediately swallowed by the muscles screaming out in reaction to their newfound use. Still, any movement at all meant he was not paralyzed like he had so feared and if movement was possible, so was some form of communication with the outside world.

He quickly shifted his efforts from his face to the fingers being held by the mystery figure next to him. He thanked whatever higher power there was that this person held his dominant hand as he fared a much better chance of using those muscles than those in his left hand. Starting with the pinkie and moving inwards, he focused on feeling the pull of gravity against his digit He then spread his awareness to take an assessment of all five of his right-hand fingers and the soft touch of the unknown person against them. This time when he attempted movement there was only pain waiting for him. If anything, the pain only hardened his resolve to persevere and master his condition. Every fibre and nerve ending from that side of his neck down to the tips of his fingers ached for respite from this new onslaught of sensation as he worked towards some kind of movement but the man harnessed his newfound feeling to fuel his efforts. The agony of movement made him want to yell out but his throat was still no more cooperative than his fingers. In a last-ditch effort, he made as if to lash out in frustration and was rewarded with the his fingers clenching slightly before they were overtaken by the resulting pain. This agony was overwhelming in its all-encompassing nature and dragged him swiftly back into the darkness of oblivion.