The sun was already too low in the sky to shine directly through the windows of Ravenclaw tower by the time Feuilly woke up. Courfeyrac sat up at the first sign of him stirring, his quill and the essay he was supposedly writing falling unnoticed to the floor, and leaned forward eagerly, propping his elbows on his knees. Feuilly’s eyelids fluttered, but it was a few more minutes before his woke up properly, blinking at his surroundings like he wasn’t quite sure where he was.
“Ravenclaw dormitory,” Courfeyrac supplied. “You’re safe at Hogwarts, nobody found out, and it’s almost dinnertime on the first day after the full moon.”
Feuilly’s eyes fell closed and he slowly let his breath out. Courfeyrac squeezed his hand and saw a little more of the tension slide off of his face.
“How’re you feeling?” he asked softly.
Feuilly opened his eyes again, moving his arms and legs experimentally. “Okay,” he said, his voice rough. “Really tired.”
Courfeyrac knew from weeks of research in the dusty “Non-human beings” section of the library that Feuilly probably wasn’t being entirely honest; how you felt just twelve hours after your body had ripped itself apart and reassembled itself twice couldn’t really be described as “okay.” But that was Feuilly for you.
“Think you can eat something? Combeferre said you’ll recover faster if you get some nutrients into you. And water, definitely water. You were pretty sick last night, I don’t know if you remember.“
“How could I forget?” Feuilly grimaced. “I still don’t feel right, but I’ll try to eat something.”
"I’ve got water right here, and then I’ll run down to the kitchen for something to eat … anything in particular you want? They like you–you keep your dormitory clean and never make extra messes for them–so I’m sure they’d be happy to cook up something really good.”
Feuilly wincing, managed to push himself up into a sitting position. “Whatever is easy is fine,” he rasped, accepting the glass of water from Courfeyrac. “I don’t have any appetite anyway.”
Courfeyrac took the stairs down to the castle’s lower levels two at a time, until a moving staircase halfway down took him by surprise and he almost ended up accidentally taking that set of steps all at once. Then he slowed his pace a bit, reminding himself that Feuilly wasn’t going to starve in the next ten minutes. It was a good night for convalescent food, it turned out; dinner included a pasta dish and Courfeyrac was able to beg some plain buttered noodles before they were mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, and a cup of hot chocolate. The house elves (who did like Feuilly–but who also had a fondness for the candy and the prank firecrackers Courfeyrac always brought them from Hogsmeade trips) offered to make several other dishes, but Courfeyrac, knowing they still had a whole meal to put together, pleaded limited hands to carry things with, and ducked out with just his noodles and hot chocolate.
Even with just that, his hands were full, and when he got back to the Ravenclaw tower he had to stop at the dormitory door to carefully balance the plate on top of the mug so he’d have a hand free to open the door. As he reached for the handle, he heard a soft sound coming from inside the room, and he stopped in surprise.
In the three months since he’d found out about Feuilly’s condition, Courfeyrac had seen him stumbling with exhaustion, scratched and shivering and filthy. He’d seen him half crazy with anxiety the day before a full moon. He’d seen him doubled up in pain as his body knit itself back together the next day. in all that time, he’d never seen him cry.
But he was crying now, heavy, wrenching sobs that Courfeyrac could hear even though the thick wooden door.
The moment he touched the handle, the sound was cut off, and by the time he had the door open, Feuilly was leaning back against his pillows, his eyes closed, any traces of tears wiped from his cheeks.
Courfeyrac wasn’t having any of that. Feuilly could pretend that he wasn’t in pain, if he liked, but if you were crying you talked to someone and let them comfort you; that was the deal, that was what having friends was all about.
“Are you okay?” he asked, setting down the food so he’d have his hands free for hugging (or gesticulating to accompany a lecture about letting people take care of you, if it came to that).
“Just tired,” Feuilly muttered, but his voice was all creaky, and when he opened his eyes they were wet.
“You were crying,” Courfeyrac insisted. “What can I do? I know it seems silly to ask ‘what’s wrong?’, obviously there’s way too much that’s wrong here, and there’s a lot of it I can’t put right. But, like, if the pain is bad, let me bring you something for it. If you’re thinking about all the bullshit our DADA textbook book said about werewolves, tell me and--well, actually, I already burned those pages from my copy, but I’m sure I can find another copy. Just. Let me know what’s wrong. Let me at least try to help you?”
Feuilly shook his head, but his hands, clenched on his knees, were trembling and Courfeyrac was pretty sure that if he just started talking it would all come out.
“Do you want something for the pain?” he asked again.
“No,” Feuilly croaked. “No, it’s--it’s fine. Honestly, there’s nothing I need . . . I--I’m safe and back in my room, and you brought me food and water and--” His voice cracked and shot up an octave. “--and maybe that’s why I--”
He took a deep, shaky breath, brushing his sleeve across his eyes. “Usually, I would wake up afterward and have a million things to do just to get through the next day--hide my ruined clothes until I had the energy to actually fix them, think of excuses to skip class, find a way to get food without going all the way down to the Great Hall . . . I guess it kept my mind busy, because I never really thought about--I never--”
He scrubbed at his cheeks again, and Courfeyrac scooted a little closer on the bed. “It’s just,” Feuilly whispered, “this sucks. I--I’m not human anymore. I could have hurt someone last night, we don’t really know. And--and everything hurts, and I feel so sick, and, and wrong, and if anyone finds out my life is over.” He stopped, hands clenching on the blanket, breathing through his nose, his jaw set. Courfeyrac put an arm around his trembling shoulders.
“And it’s only twenty-eight more days before I have to do this all over again,” Feuilly finished in a rush, the last few words coming out strangled. He pressed his fists against his mouth, his shoulders shaking with stifled sobs.
Courfeyrac had always prided himself on always knowing the right thing to say--on being able to find the words that broke uncomfortable tensions or gave you hope that everything would turn out okay or convinced you that people still loved you in spite of everything. But there really wasn’t anything he could say to make this better. Feuilly knew his friends still loved him, no matter who or what he was. He knew they would be at his side through this whole thing, every twenty-nine days, for the rest of his life if he needed them. He knew that attitudes in the magical world were slowly shifting and that magical treatments were advancing and that someday he might be able to have a life that was at least close to normal. He knew that he could get through this.
And none of that changed the fact that what had happened to Feuilly last summer was a painful, terrifying, horrible thing that would change his life forever. To try to suggest solutions or offer comfort seemed like an attempt to minimize what Feuilly had gone through--what he would have to go through for the rest of his life. It killed Courfeyrac to see a friend in pain and not do anything to try to make it better, but it seemed like what Feuilly needed to do more than anything right now was to acknowledge that pain, to say that yes, something really, really bad had happened to him, and it sucked.
Sometimes, perhaps, the right thing to say was nothing at all.
So Courfeyrac quietly cast a locking and muffling spell on the door, and sat beside Feuilly, rubbing his heaving shoulders, staying with him as he grieved for everything he had lost.