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Healing begins

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I awake the next morning from a fitful sleep. These empty grey eyes have been dancing through my dreams. I groan as I roll over and my feet land on the cold floor. The house is eerily silent. Hermione left last evening after a short talk about our next steps, so now I am alone with an apathetic Draco. After a short morning coffee to wake myself up, I decide that this is my next goal today. Find out how bad Draco is and at least get him clean for now.

Softly padding upstairs, I stop in front of the door to his room. I have to take a deep breath before I muster up enough courage to enter. When I do my eyes wander immediately to the bed. Only to be met with said empty grey I dreamed about the whole night. Draco is awake, seemingly unseeing eyes locked straight ahead. He has not moved one bit from the position I put him in the last evening. I shudder again at how entirely unresponsive and run down he has become. Softly I kneel in front of his head.

“Hey, Draco. Good morning. How are you today?” I try to act as normal as possible with him first.

He doesn’t so much as blink. I sigh and put my hand on his shoulder, “Can you hear me, Draco? I am Harry. Harry Potter, do you remember? We used to be rivals in school.”

My face falls as he still doesn’t show much of a reaction but after some seconds of silence his face twists. It is that crooked smile again. There is no happiness in his face, just empty. Again tears tug at the back of my eyes. I reach out my hand and stroke his cheek softly.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t get you out of there earlier. You never deserved that. You sacrificed everything and had to pay even more. It’s not fair,” I lean forward a bit, “But now you’re free. You are never going back to Azkaban again. I will take care of you, I promise. I will make sure you can become a normal person again. Just give me a sign you’re still in there.”

I don’t know what I expect but it certainly isn’t this. Again it takes some time until he even does anything. But then he slowly reaches out one of his bone-thin hands towards me. It is slow and shaking but he certainly does react. Then his ice-cold hand lands on my cheek, that crooked smile still on his face. He isn’t even really looking at me. I gasp and my pained face falls against the bed.

“I am so sorry,” I repeat, “But I will do my best to make it up to you.”

He doesn’t react this time either, but the hand stays on my cheek. It is ice-cold, reminding me of a ghost’s limb with frightening measure. I shake my head, straightening up. Now is not the time to mourn over the past. Now is the time to create a better future. With as much care as I can muster, I take his hand from my face and force a smile on mine.

“Right and we start now,” I stand up, still holding his hand, “And the first thing is to get you something to eat and then clean you up, okay?”

He only blinks up at me. As he doesn’t move of his own accord, I carefully tug at his hand. Slow but obediently he sits up and swings his legs over the side of the mattress. His eyes are focused straight ahead again, seeing nothing or at least something I can’t see. Slipping an arm around the thin waist I slowly lift him on his feet. His legs aren’t strong enough to keep him up on their own, but with my support, he is at least able to walk. Our movement is slow and it takes way more time than I would alone to reach the small sitting room on the same floor. I don’t want to make him walk down two stories to the kitchen in the basement, so we are eating up here. Once there, I carefully lower him into one of the armchairs standing around a small table. He slumps into it, body not holding him upright properly, and with the tiniest twitch around his mouth, presses into the soft material. I summon the food already prepared in the kitchen and actually get some reaction from Draco. When the food appears on the table, he turns his head towards the smell. His expression gets a hint wistful.

“That’s for you, Draco. No more prison food, I promise,” I say, then frown, “If you were fed there to begin with, which I am not so sure about anymore, going by your appearance,” I sit myself on the table in front of him and take up a croissant, something I have seen Draco eat often during Hogwarts, “Here. Can you eat by yourself?”

He stares blankly at me and the food too but doesn’t make any move to reach for it. He is still as apathetic as he was when we got him out of prison. Even when I stretch the croissant further towards him, he only looks at it as if he doesn’t really know what to do with it. I sigh, a painful sting shooting through my chest. But he has to eat something. He is way too thin anyway. If this goes on for much longer, he is going to die of starvation. So I tear a small piece from the croissant.

“Here, you have to eat that,” I lean forward, nearly touching his lips with the food, “Open up, Draco,” I say with a pained chuckle, “I never thought I would ever feed you. Eat it, please,” I urge.

It seems to take him some time to process the words again, but then he actually opens his mouth. I give another of these chuckles and carefully put the morsel of food in his mouth. Urging him to eat, he eventually complies, chewing the bit of croissant. He gives me one of those crooked smiles, mixed with wistfulness. When I tear off another piece, he carefully reaches out a shaky hand. But it is hesitant as if he doesn’t know whether he is allowed to take the good food. I give a pained smile, one tear running down my cheek, and hand him the piece. For one moment he makes eye contact with me and I think to detect the smallest spark of thankfulness in the usually dead eyes. After he has put the food into his mouth, I carefully take one of his hands and press the rest of the croissant in it.

“That’s all for you. You can have all the food you want as long as you are with me. No matter what, no matter how much. All you have to do is ask,” I choke out.

He doesn’t react only eats the croissant at an incredibly slow pace. Each of his movements is shaky. But we are getting there. Nearly all of it is gone when he stops eating. He throws me a cautious look, then stares at the food for a moment. Another look to me and the rest of the croissant suddenly disappears into one of his dirty sleeves. For a moment I startle than realize that it is an action he learned in prison where he didn’t get enough food. Again sadness overwhelms me at how broken he has become. I caress his dirty cheek for another time, then I take a buttered toast and hold it to him. He looks at it for a moment, then takes a bite from it. I give a small smile. After half of the bread he looks up. Gaze skipping from the food to me to his sleeve and back, I shake my head.

“You don’t have to do that anymore. You don’t have to hide any food. You can have as much as you want from now on, I swear,” I take his hands in mine, empty eyes vaguely focusing on me, “Look at me. There will always be food here. I will leave it there, you can take something whenever you want. But please don’t start hiding morsels everywhere in the house, that would become pretty smelly.”

He just stares at me with that empty gaze, so I only shake my head, “You want something else?” I ask, holding out a biscuit to him. He makes a motion that could be understood as a headshake, so I put the food down. Only to notice that his eyes seem to constantly wander to the small jar of jam on the tray next to me. I grin and pick it up, “Jam? You want some of that?” another small spark shoots through his eyes and I take that as ‘yes’. I chuckle and scoop some onto my finger, “Here you go.”

To my surprise he leans forward without a moment delay. His movements are still slow but determined this time. And then I freeze, because his mouth wraps around my jam covered finger without one second of hesitation. I twitch uncomfortably. Thankfully he stops soon and sits up straight again. His eyes become vacant again.

Clearing my throat, I look at him, “How about we get you cleaned up now? You desperately need it,” I say, standing up and taking his hands again.

He looks at me but doesn’t react any further than that. So I sigh and pull him back on his feet. A quick wordless spell and the bathtub some rooms over starts to fill on it’s own. Until I get Draco there it should be about half-full. I don’t want to put more in it, since he still can’t really sit up straight on his own and I sincerely don’t want to risk him drowning.