[personal profile] lrthunder82 posting in [community profile] hp_mhealthfest

Scorpius and I apparate just behind the large wrought-iron gate because I’m desperate for some fresh air. The garden of the manor is the only place here that holds no tainted memories for me, and I’ve always enjoyed its lush, relaxing beauty. But every step I take towards the back entrance of the manor seems to weigh a tonne. I so don’t want to be here, and the thought of crossing the threshold and letting the heavy stone walls close around me makes my chest feel constricted. I already have the desperate urge to open my mouth and ask Scorpius to take me back. But I can’t do that to him. I can’t make him worry about me more than he already does.

I glance at my son nervously, anxious that he will pick up on my discomfort and begin fussing at me, but he is uncharacteristically quiet and thoughtful. Hugo asked to speak with him in private before we left, and I wonder if what he said has anything to do with my son’s subdued behaviour. He’s normally practically bouncing as he walks, chattering about everything and nothing, noticing a million interesting details around him, and simply living for the moment, clearly happy with his place in life. But not today. He’s working through something in his head. I know my son well enough to see that, and I know it won’t be long before he comes out with whatever is bothering him. That boy can’t keep anything inside to save his life.

“Father… I was wondering… would you be willing to show me?”

Show him?

“There’s this old Pensieve in Grandmother Cissy’s boudoir… I was wondering if you would be willing to show me what has been bothering you so much?”

No. No, no, no, no, no! I’m shaking my head before he even finishes, and a cold shiver runs down my spine at the mere thought of my precious, innocent son witnessing any of the horrors that took place in those rooms he considers home, seeing his father in a role that is… no, god, no. I’d rather die than have him witness it!

“No. Merlin, no, Scorpius. Don’t make me.”

I barely choke that out, and my distress must be extremely obvious, because an actual look of panic crosses his face before he quickly pushes me onto one of the benches without saying another word. Not a moment too soon. I don’t think my legs would have held me much longer. He pulls my head onto his chest and just holds me, whispering quiet, soothing words and apologies.

“Merlin, I’m sorry, father. I don’t know what I was thinking. It’s just… it would be so helpful to know what you’re dealing with, to see what it is that is making you so miserable. But of course I wouldn’t make you… how could I? It’s not like I really want to see it, you know,” he shudders, “but I suppose it would make it easier to understand. But perhaps… if not me… would you show Hugo?”

Hugo. I close my eyes and try to think. It’s such a gigantic mess in my scared, panicked brain at the moment that I can’t tell if that is a good idea or not. I know for a fact that I don’t want Scorpius to see it – never, but Hugo… he’s seen it all. He would know what to make of it. He might understand, it might be helpful… But Merlin, to expose myself so horribly in front of that young man for whom I was beginning to feel a lot more for than just professional respect? I don’t know… I don’t know if I can go that far.

“Perhaps… one day,” I say feebly, knowing that my son wouldn’t push it if I gave him an answer he could work with.

“Perhaps,” he agrees, and I can hear that he’s content with his small victory.

“Would you like to go inside now?” he asks gently, and I look at him with complete lack of understanding. Going inside is what I’ve been desperate to delay; how could he possibly think…?

But of course. For the first time, I realise that for him, the manor bears none of the haunting memories I find inextricably embedded in these grey walls. He cannot hear the screams of the tortured in the howling of the wind, cannot see the white of the bones in the cracks between the cobblestones. He doesn’t pick up the subtle, ever-present smell of blood, the low-hanging stink of fear and malice, the suffocating smell of despair. For my son, the manor is simply a home, the beautiful, grand palace of his ancestors where he grew up happy and protected. It’s not the place that is dark. It’s me.

“Yes… I suppose so. I’m sorry for startling you. I’ve been a tad off lately. It’s just… this place…”

“I know,” he says quickly, and he looks at the floor, squirming. “I’m so sorry. I… I forgot. Hugo told me that you might be… a bit unstable for the next few days. He said that beginning your therapy is bound to rattle you... and that I needed to keep you closely monitored when you got home because this is where most of your bad memories took place. I’m sorry, I wasn’t thinking. He would have my head on a platter for this. He’s absolutely fierce when it comes to his patients.”

For some reason, those words make my blood flow faster, as if even from a distance the thought of Hugo caring can take the edge off my anxiety. Somehow, I feel a little better already.

“He’s very considerate,” I say, careful not to reveal too much of the awe and admiration the handsome redhead inspires within me. What good could possibly come of that?

“He’s the best,” Scorpius says simply. “I’ve never met someone so talented and dedicated. He’s absolutely brilliant at what he does, and he never gives up on anyone. And he likes you,” he says smugly – and how is it that those simple words practically turn me crimson?!

“Surely you can’t tell as much… after a mere two days… which I mostly slept through anyway… How could I have possibly made an impression? Oh, I suppose he’s the type that likes everyone,” I mumble, suddenly not knowing where to look or what to do with my hands so as not to give myself up.

“I’ve known Hugo since he was eleven, Father,” my unruly child says with the same smooth smugness, “and I’ve never known him quite as… enthusiastic as he seems now. I dare say he’s quite passionate about you… that is, about your case.”

Oh, this evil child I’ve spawned! He must have smelled somehow that I’m anything but indifferent towards the gorgeous redhead, and he’s grilling me with no mercy. Still, there is no stifling the silly… oh, perhaps not silly, but certainly less-than-distinguished smile that curves my mouth, and it feels like the first genuine one in an eternity or so. I dare say I’ve never had such a frivolous conversation before, and I certainly didn’t expect to have one with my son! Oh, my, what have I got myself into!

“You like him, don’t you?”

Straight to the heart, that’s my Scorpius; he knows no other way. And the truly terrible part is that he would know if I attempted a lie. Merlin, I should have known better…

“He’s… exceptional,” I say carefully, but upon seeing my son’s bright smile, I quickly realise that I hardly did a good job aiming for indifferent with my choice of words! “That is… it is extraordinary to see someone so young so dedicated to his profession and so… caring,” I finally blurt out. Oh, Merlin’s limping dog, I think I might be ready to take my chances with the ghosts and darkness of the manor! This conversation needs to come to an end, or I will soon betray myself. My hopeless babbling certainly speaks volumes about how flustered I’ve become!

“I think I might be ready to go inside,” I get up, trying to salvage what little is left of my dignity. “It’s getting chilly out here, and I think I’d like a cup of tea.”

“Some ginger tea, perhaps?” my son inquires innocently, and upon my horrified, miserable look bursts into a loud unabashed laughter. Honestly… it’s going to be a long couple of days, I can tell already.

~

But whatever iota of carefree joy I carry inside, it quickly dissipates once the heavy door of the manor closes behind us with a decisive thunk, and the bright, cheerful light of the gardens abruptly disappears, reduced to nothing but a memory. Whatever natural light reaches the manor entrance, it is solemnly filtered through the manor’s many stained-glass windows. I used to think it was grand and it certainly created interesting effects, but these days the subdued light creates too many shadows for my liking. The manor is mine now; I would be well within my rights to give it a makeover, but… quite honestly, the thought makes me uncomfortable. I can’t stand the idea of workers tumbling about with their tools and their curiosity, and this place simply has too many secrets to find. No, I will not go poking at this sleeping dragon. It is I who has to change, the manor is… just stone and material, however antique and regal.

But, my god, the heaviness of this place brings me down! The thick velvet drapes, and crystal vases, the gilded frame portraits of my frowning, haughty ancestors, all that cold polished marble… like a gravestone… suddenly I feel as if I need air desperately.

“I think I’d like that tea now,” I gasp, and I can’t be bothered walking – I can’t even manage a warning – I simply apparate straight to the breakfast parlour on the south side of the building, the one room my mother had furnished according to her refined, delicate taste. Sweet Merlin… so much better… I grip the back of an elegant, handmade chair for support and inhale all the air and brightness of this room.

The atmosphere in here is drastically different from the gloomy aura of the rest of the house, where the time seemed to stop centuries ago. The large French windows are overlooking the gardens, and the transparent golden-hued curtains are flowing in the breeze, making the room look flooded with sunlight and so airy that it instantly reminds me of the brightness of Hugo’s cheerful, cosy place. I want to be back so badly it hurts.

“Father! Oh, here you are, Father! Oh, but you gave me a start! At least warn me next time, I’m not fifteen anymore, you know!”

Even through my laborious breathing I manage a wheeze out a laughter. My beloved 24-year-old son has no idea what it means to feel a million years old. I hope he never will.

“I apologise,” I murmur, still fighting to steady my breath. “I might have had a bit of a crisis. It’s all those walls, you see… How did you manage to find me so fast?”

How did he manage indeed? There are well over a hundred rooms in the manor, and I could have been in any one of them!

“I might have taken Hugo’s advice and put a little tracking charm on you,” he mumbles, looking positively embarrassed. “It’s for your own safety only, I assure you,” he adds quickly. “He warned me that you might collapse at some point, and he seemed so honestly concerned about your health that I didn’t think it would do any harm… and look at you, giving me a fright like that! Well, I suppose I could take it off, if you insist, but since it’s proven useful already…”

I shake my head. If anything, my trust in Hugo’s judgement is even stronger after this little incident. If he thinks that I need a tracking charm on me, however inconvenient and mortifying this is, then I’m ready to concede to walk around with one. After all, I’ve all but collapsed and had a near-panic attack – all in the few minutes since I apparated home.

“Hugo is… wise beyond his years,” I blurt out, and literally bite my tongue to keep from launching into an inquiry that would provide me with more information on the stunning young man – and reveal to my son just what an old, smitten fool I’ve become. But he’s already looking at me with those bright silver eyes, and after he looks to the side with a very Malfoyian smirk, I know he’s got me figured out.

“He’s ages wiser than his 22 years – well, nearly 23, really. I suppose it comes from dealing with all that sorrow… but I reckon he wouldn’t have it any other way. He used to be immensely popular in school, given his looks, talents, and kindness – there was this incident involving a girl literally sneaking to his bed naked; Merlin, you can’t imagine what a fuss it was! – but I can’t ever recall him really seeing anyone for long. I think Lorcan Scamander was the last one he dated for longer than two weeks,” he says frowning as if trying to remember, but I can barely suppress a shiver. Lorcan… that’s a male name. Wasn’t that the name of one of the sons of that oddball, Luna Lovegood? Merlin, could he really be into men? I have to bite my tongue again not to blurt that out.

“Yeah, but that was about year ago, and I haven’t seen him with anyone other than one-night-stands since. He doesn’t go clubbing much, either. Rose barely manages to drag him along every once in a blue moon, and he only ever picks up strangers, preferably Muggles – he hates being just a trophy. But as Ron Weasley’s son – no doubt of parentage there as you might have noticed – it’s hard to avoid it. He seems to have a thing for blonds, though, Rose noticed…”

He throws me a sly, meaningful look worthy of a true Malfoy, as if he could see my heart beating faster in my chest, and clearly satisfied with the sight of my flaming face, he continues smugly:

“… and mostly he leaves with men. But so far he has yet to find someone who could compete with his job – that is one dedicated redhead! The only thing that ever came close to his love for his job is his love for Quidditch. You should see him play! He could easily go professional. He prefers playing against his Uncle Harry; I imagine hardly anyone else is his match these days. But other than that… His father always mumbles that he should “live a little”, but he just shrugs it off and laughs: “But so many people need me…” – and that’s the end of that. Everyone is really proud of him, I guess. Even in a family of over-achievers, he’s quite something.”

“Yes,” I mumble with a knot in my throat, afraid to look anywhere but the floor. “He certainly is.”

“Oh, but I nearly forgot,” my evil child says. “We’re here for the ginger tea.”

~

All things considered, it’s been a fairly nice afternoon in the company of my son – Merlin, have I missed his bright presence! – but now the darkness begins to crawl in through the large windows, and there is no escaping the long shadows. My heart grows heavier by the moment, and the mere thought of returning to my lonely, dark bedroom for the night fills me with a feeling of discomfort and slowly burgeoning dread.

Partly because I’ve made a decision: no more sleeping potions for me, come what may. Last time I took something, I didn’t care if I lived or died, and I never want to feel so desperate again. It’s not like they worked very well anymore, and if I took too little, they might contribute to my nightmares; that was one of their well-known side effects. Hugo’s words about repressing one’s memories not being the right way still resonated in my mind… and I willingly chose dread over oblivion. Of course, I am absolutely scared stupid.

“Father, would you like me to stay with you tonight?” my wonderful, observant son offers, and I realise what a poor job of hiding my nervous fidgeting I’m doing.

Yes!

I nearly blurt that out, but then I remember… and it feels as if someone just poured ice-cold lead down my spine: in the last of my fits, I hurt my wife – what if something of the sorts happens when my son is near?! I’d rather finish myself than put a finger on him… so no, as much as I’d love to have him near, that is not an option.

“No, there’s no need,” I say as coolly as I can manage, desperate to keep my nervous tremor out of my voice. “I’m quite tired, I’m afraid. I’ll retire to bed soon, I think.”

“But…”

“You’ve still got your tracking charm on me, yes? Well, that should do. I don’t imagine I will come to much harm in my bedroom alone, and if I do…”

There is no need to finish that sentence. We both know he is bound to find out about it. With the amount of ruckus I’m likely to cause with my thrashing about, it would be surprising if someone in bloody Russia doesn’t find out about it!

“Very well, then,” he agrees grudgingly, and I can tell he’s not entirely happy with the current state of affairs. “Hugo did say I shouldn’t really attempt to mollycoddle you too much, it might irritate you further,” he mumbles unhappily. “I’m only supposed to make sure you’re safe.”

“Well, that’s… considerate of him,” I attempt to say as matter-of-factly as I can manage, but who am I kidding? I can barely hide my awe at how well the redhead already seems to know me, and I have to try hard to hold back a silly smile at the thought that he cares. But there’s no stopping the treacherous warmth spreading through my chest at the memory of that beautiful smile and intense sapphire eyes.

“He’s that kind of guy,” Scorpius says sweetly. “A Weasley. Once they care about someone, they’re unstoppable. Let’s get you to bed, then!”

So much for not mollycoddling me.

~

I’ve been clutching the sheets in my fists ever since the last of the candles was extinguished. If I could hope to get any rest – or any comfort from them – I would have left them on, but they weren’t likely to contribute to any of that: falling asleep was already a precarious affair, and the flickering of their flames made me edgy.

But now the darkness of the room presses down heavily on me, and it’s like I’m eleven again, scared and lonely in my oversized bed, covered up to my eyes and waiting for the unknown dread to roll over me from the darkness surrounding me. Only, my dread has a face now, and not just one, but many, and it was my own actions who transformed the imaginary horror into a real one. More than ever, it feels as if there is no escaping my nightmares. How long can I stay awake? I’m absolutely exhausted, and even though the night is anything but chilly, my body feels stiff and icy, as if my fear constricts me like a tightening noose.

Even though the darkness in the room is nearly absolute, I still close my eyes, as if this pitiful, childish action – if I can’t see them, perhaps they can’t see me – is the last line of defence from the horrors I’m desperate to avoid. I try not to feel the darkness pulsating all around me, waiting like a pack of hungry wolves for me to succumb to sleep so it could have a piece of me. But it is all in vain. There is nowhere to run… and suddenly I can see the darkness. It’s my darkness, the darkness of the poorly-lit corridor I find myself in. I have a sinking feeling that I’ve been here before, but even so… the icy-cold dread curling around me like an angry, pitch-black sea fills me with a desperate urge to run. So I do.

I turn around and stumble as fast as I can down the shady corridor, desperate to get away from the chilly, vicious shadows scraping at my neck from behind, and my sinking heart telling me that it is all in vain, that my legs, turning into lead with every step, are taking me straight to that place frozen in time that strips my soul bare. There is to be no mercy for me; I can’t ever turn back. So I struggle along, nearly blind with panic and anxiety at the turn of every corner, fearing, anticipating, until suddenly… I hit the void. And everything freezes, just like I knew it would. My body, the time, even the darkness, piling behind me like a frosty, threatening dark cloud, about to devour me. I’m here. Exactly where I was destined to be.

I can already feel the hairs on my neck rising as a frigid drop of perspiration trickles down my spine. It’s like pure evil is watching me with merciless, unblinking eyes. Any moment now, there would be this thick, putrid presence breathing onto my bristling skin, slowly closing in on me from all sides, filling the air until it was all I could smell, and my lungs would hurt from its sickening poison… It wouldn’t stop until my chest ached with its tremendous weight, and I would either give in and let it crush me, or let the panic take over and start my hopeless fight for a chance to breathe. The malevolent presence crushes me down, and my struggle for the thick, suffocating air makes my ears buzz with effort – but suddenly… something is different.

The petrifying silence is no longer absolute. For the first time, I pick up a low murmur, barely more than a hum that seems to emanate from the darkness itself. It’s like the sound is leaking from the gutter of the black void surrounding me and its low murmur gradually becomes a proper rumble. It’s as if the darkness came to life with a thousand voices, and they resonate inside me as if my insides were made of jelly. I begin shouting… something in reply, and somehow it feels as if I should know… I do know what they’re saying; only I can’t for the love of god comprehend it on any level of consciousness, I can’t remember it, and I can’t repeat it. I can only shout my reply until my voice is raw. It’s an absolute madness, the end of all sanity.

But then, it’s as if a tiny bright crack has opened in the darkness, and a new voice reaches me, warm, golden, strong enough to guide me, and I turn my head around frantically, like a wild beast, desperate not lose it.

“-oy… Draco… wake up… I need you to wake up… can you do that for me? That’s it… just follow my voice… there you go, I’ve got you. You’re safe now. I’ve got you.”

My eyes pop wide open, and at first there is no comprehension – just immense relief that I’ve once again made it back, that I’ve once again managed to save myself from that wretched place where I nearly disintegrated completely. And then I realise that I’m staring at the sapphire heaven of Hugo Weasley’s eyes, that I’m cradled in his arms, that he’s keeping me close and safe. He came to get me, just like he promised. He gave me his word to drag me back from the doorsteps of death if he had to – and this was so much better. He came for me when I needed him most.

“I’ve got you,” he repeats in that beautiful… most beautiful, comforting voice he has, and I notice that his gorgeous, fiery hair is flowing down his back, just like the first time I saw it. Lying like this, safely cradled in his arms and completely vulnerable, I blurt out the first thing on my mind, because I’ve somehow lost all my inhibitions. I can’t recall any boundaries. I need to tell him.

“You’re so beautiful. Your hair is… precious… like copper treasure… aeribus… I love your eyes… and your voice saved me. I just followed it… and it led me back to you.”

He doesn’t seem the tiniest bit bothered by the outburst of my feelings; he merely smiles tenderly, and his long fingers brush a wet strand of my hair off my face.

“Glad I could be of help. I’m happy you were willing to follow.”

“They were different this time… my dreams,” I choke out with sudden urgency, because I’ve just realised that I only have precious few moments before they fade away. I can’t even be bothered with eloquence. “There was not just that deadly, paralysing stillness… well, there was darkness… there always is… suffocating, malevolent… it tries to… possess me… take me over… and I fight it… I always fight… but this time… this time there was noise… like a whisper… rumble… voices… hundreds of them. All saying something as one… whispering… demanding… only I can’t recall what… and I was trying to tell them something… shout it, even… and I can’t recall that either…”

I look at him, feeling helpless and frustrated, and barely clinging to the edge of my sanity I wonder if he can make heads or tails of my scrambled words… if he even believes them…

“Help,” he says after a long moment of silence, as if he had to decide whether to share that with me. “They were screaming for help. That’s what you kept saying in your nightmare.”

Yes! Yes, I remember that now; how could I not remember?! Help, help, help, help us, help!!! In the same desperate, pleading tone over and over again. Merlin, how could I forget?!

And I said…

“Forgive me.” Please, please, please forgive me.

My darkness wasn’t fear. It was guilt.

~

Half an hour later, I’m sitting in the armchair by my bed, wrapped in a cosy, warm blanket and clinging to a piping hot cup of tea – yes, ginger, don’t bother asking, it’s always been my favourite, and it has nothing to do with… oh, bugger. I can’t believe I’ve said all those things to him! About his hair… and his eyes… oh, someone murder me! But his voice did save me, there’s no denying that – and I suppose I can live with a bit of dented dignity.

I’m only just beginning to thaw when I notice Hugo having a quiet, yet animated conversation with my son in the corner of the room – yes, the animated part, that’s all Scorpius, Hugo is as calm and as in charge as ever.

“Fine,” my son finally agrees grumpily and loudly enough for me to catch his words. “But promise to call me as soon as something is up! Hugo – promise!

It’s good to know my son is not only attempting to terrorise me.

“I promise,” Hugo says, and there seems to be a bit of laughter in his voice. “Now go to bed and let me handle this.”

As soon as my son is gone, he approaches me, and just like that very first time I set my eyes on him, he takes my breath away. I can’t help thinking that I want to get better just to keep seeing him.

“How are you?” he wants to know, and as he takes a seat near me, those astute eyes are taking in all of me, as if he is trying to determine the state of me as a whole.

“I’m… better,” I tell him, suddenly desperate to conjure some kind of apology for my stupid outburst. “Look, about earlier…”

“Never mind that,” he waves with his hand as if dismissing my apology, and smiles that radiant smile of his that makes everything all right… and makes me want to blurt out more nonsense. “You were very vulnerable, and please don’t feel awkward. I’m your Healer, believe me, I’ve had worse. Besides, you didn’t say anything you should be ashamed of… I suppose I should thank you…” his sapphire eyes twinkle naughtily, and I come all too close to blurting out “And I meant every word.” .

But suddenly his hands are around mine, and I have to bite back a moan. Why does his touch affect me so? He called me Draco, I suddenly remember… he called me by my given name when he brought me back, and I didn’t think it one bit odd. It fit.

“Do you have any idea why your dream changed, Mr. Malfoy?” he asks, suddenly all serious and professional. I shake my head, but it’s not because I’m out of ideas.

“Please, call me Draco,” I whisper, because Mr. Malfoy… just feels plain wrong after what happened today. I like the way my name sounds from his mouth. It’s like those soft lips shape around it, and he just breathes it out… god, I’m an old, wretched idiot! What on the devil’s earth is wrong with me?! How could I be so starved for closeness to this exceptional young man?! Are all his patients so clingy?

“Draco,” he says without any objection, and those blue eyes smile at me as if he’s perfectly comfortable with using my first name. It seems… natural somehow, almost as if he was calling me that in his mind already, and I cannot help but smile, stupidly exhilarated for no reason whatsoever.

“Thank you. I was thinking… perhaps it wasn’t just the dream that changed. Perhaps it was me.”

His blue eyes light up, and his smile is so soft and appreciative that my heart flutters madly in my chest. He doesn’t mean anything by it, I remind myself. He can’t help being so… so… breathtaking.

“You read my mind,” he speaks warmly. “I imagine your dream changed because you did. Can you think of anything that changed between the last time you’ve had it and tonight?”

“Well,” I swallow, because I’m afraid it’s going to come out awkward, “I remembered you telling me that there was no point in trying to forget… so I decided not to run. I didn’t take anything… no potion… I just let it come.”

“That was incredibly brave of you,” he says gently. “I can’t imagine how scared and alone you must have felt.”

And desperate, I want to add. Desperate to get to the bottom of it, desperate for it to end. It’s been going on long enough. I had to find a way to end it… even if it meant the end of me. For the first time, I realise how tired of my suffering I’ve become, how badly I craved some peace of mind.

“And once you let yourself hear them… hear the voices… how did that make you feel?”

His hands are still wrapped around mine, making their comforting, soothing warmth seep into me. This is the only reason why I can do this. Still, I cannot look into his deep, penetrating eyes; I focus on our intertwined hands instead.

“It felt as if the darkness was made up of the voices all this time… and that I’ve made them so angry by refusing to hear them. It was as if they wanted to be acknowledged, wanted to be heard, wanted me to respond… as if I’ve been dumb… and cowardly all this time, not willing to face them… just running and fighting. And I wanted… Merlin, how I wanted to tell them how sorry I was… I let them down… I was too cowardly… but I couldn’t find the words. But the worst part is… if I could turn back time… if I knew back then how much my actions… my cowardice would come to haunt me… I know I’m too downtrodden to act differently. Back then, I so desperately wanted to live. These days… not so much anymore.”

I close my eyes in utter shame, and then force myself to look into his bright eyes because I need to see… I need to know what he thinks of me… it’s imperative. Will he judge me? Can he possibly understand? But then he shakes his head slowly, and my heart nearly stops.

“If you had done anything other than what you were coerced to do, you would have ended up dead, possibly all three of you. You know that as well as I do,” he speaks softly, and there’s a tinge of true sadness in his voice now. “But it is easy for me to talk. I wasn’t there. I didn’t see what you had to endure. I speak rationally, but as cold as my father always thought you… Draco… an awful lot of your most important decisions spring straight from the heart. You regret… even now you do… you care. Someone heartless would never have to endure 25 years of nightmares.”

His beautiful blue eyes… so warm, intense and understanding… they seem to purify me. The longer I keep staring into them, getting lost in their sapphire depths, I feel as if there is hope for me to earn my reprieve. Merlin, could it be?

“I could show you,” I blurt out, and my voice is awfully shaky. “There’s this old Pensieve…”

I realise there are tears streaming down my face, but I no longer care. If I’m to be forgiven, someone should see the true depth of my sins. There could be no forgiveness for half-forgotten truths. He needs to stand where I stood, see what I saw, witness my cowardice, feel my fear, my self-loathing, the way I was clinging to hope even then, that somehow I could make it out of there alive if only I could endure the worst. Someone needs to see. Someone needs to share my burden… and be my judge and jury.

“Show me,” he says simply, and I nearly collapse, feeling equal parts relieved and absolutely flooded with horror.

~

I show him everything. Every last memory I can get ahold of, starting with the most benign one from the Forbidden Forest, all the way up to the horrors of the days in the manor. Viewing over twenty-five years of memories takes us nearly all night but neither of us is willing to stop. I’m fuelled by the strange desperate energy of a person who’s putting their every atom of strength into their last line of defence – and come hell or high water. He allows himself to be pulled into every one of my memories with a serious, dedicated face – and holding my hand. I insist on coming along. It’s my penance to see them all clearly once again, my last desperate plea. This pilgrimage through the darkness and sorrow of those days is my only chance for forgiveness, and I’d go through this hell on my knees to get there.

He emerges from every memory pale as a ghost, and I feel for him – god, yes, I do. The young people of today know nothing of the darkness of those days – and to be thrown straight into the heart of the horror… it takes a very special person to endure that willingly. This particular Weasley really is something else, and I can’t even put my admiration into words. Even though I can tell how shaken he is, he’s still determinedly clutching my hand, and his brilliant eyes are almost on fire with deep thought and the intense processing of such an enormous amount of overwhelmingly emotional impressions.

“I see what you meant about his bone-chilling presence,” he says thoughtfully when we return from my memory of the Dark Lord after he’d come back to his full power. “He has an aura of evil around him. He doesn’t wear it proudly, like your aunt… it’s like he’s made of it. Even the smell of him is… unnatural… poisonous.”

Yes!! Yes, that’s exactly how I feel! Merlin, I never knew it would mean so much to me to have someone understand. I could simply hug him right now, but even the thought of it leaves me strangely dizzy and disorientated, and instead, I squeeze his hand tightly and ask: “Are you ready for another one?”

And here we go again… on and on… it seems as if there’s no end in sight. And inevitably, we come to that memory.

“Merlin, you were all so young…” he whispers in a voice resonating with sadness after having witnessed his mother being tortured by my mad aunt. I can see he’s found this particular memory especially harrowing to watch, and I swallow thickly, guilt washing over me anew because I was there and I let it happen. I never got to tell her, but I begrudgingly admired Hermione Granger for her intellect and her bravery, and deep down inside, I knew she was trying to do the right thing – yet I just stood there and watched my vile aunt carve her malice into the girl’s flesh, and I did absolutely nothing to stop it. I felt so damn helpless and frightened…

That’s what I’ve always envied Potter and his lot the most – they were so insanely brave. They just went and did things, took matters into their own hands, took risks and did everything they had to do to achieve their goals, whether that meant living on the run in the wild for half a year, or breaking in and out of Gringotts on the back of a dragon. And I was hardly ever more than a puppet, a barely-useful pawn to people who knew how to play big games.

“I’m sorry,” he speaks unexpectedly, and his voice is dark and soft. “I shouldn’t have made you uncomfortable this way. But seeing my mum like this… I suppose I’m a bit too empathic for my own good. It serves me well in my profession, but when it gets as personal, as it did just now…”

“Please don’t apologise,” I speak quickly, my heart beating in my chest so madly it’s making me dizzy. “I shouldn’t have made you watch it. I should have known better. Merlin… it’s just that I wanted you to know what it was like to be me back then, I wanted you to see what my nightmares are made of; perhaps I was hoping…”

And there it is. The lightest touch of his palm on my cheek, caressing it gently, and my breath seems to stop in my chest, expanding it, causing my heart to swell at such unspeakable tenderness.

“Draco,” he has softly. “Look at me.”

I look at him, helpless, unable to resist, desperate for understanding, desperate for his tenderness.

“I want to see. I need to see to understand. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy… how could it be when it’s been tormenting you for a quarter of a century? But if you think that dying by the hand of Voldemort’s cronies would have made anything right, you couldn’t be more wrong. Most of those people whose end you witnessed would have made the same choice as you did just for a chance to live. Not everyone is as insanely brave and self-sacrificing as my Uncle Harry. Fear of dying is the most basic human instinct, and you shouldn’t expect to be punished for protecting yourself. You were not meant to die then; that was not your destiny, and you would do well to keep that in mind. You were meant to be a witness, you were meant to bring the real perpetrators to justice – as you did… you were meant to be Scorpius’s father,” he says gently, and more than anything, this one gets me straight in the heart. I can barely choke down a strained wail.

“And isn’t that amazing? None of that would have happened if you hadn’t lived. And perhaps… there’s more for you in the stars, who knows?” he says with a mysterious, tender smile that makes me want to launch myself at him and kiss him stupid. I’m not even sorry anymore for having such hopeless feelings. I’m only sorry I’ll never get to express them.

“Shall we?”

Is he really asking me to continue? God, how I want to… but I hate the thought of tormenting him again. If he’s really highly empathic…

“Draco! Please… I want to.”

Merlin, how does anyone ever says no to these soft, lit-up eyes? I just nod with a knot in my throat and grip his fingers tightly, before extracting another silvery, swirling string from my head.

After that, he barely says a word – just gives an occasional deep sigh, as if he needs to expel all the misery he’s been witnessing, and rubs that handsome face with his hands, as if washing himself clean of all those cruel memories. But other than that, I can’t really read him. All his emotions seem contained in an endless realm behind those deep, thoughtful eyes. After a while, I no longer wonder. It’s his way. I’m just immensely grateful he’s not giving up on me. He takes a few moments after every return from the Pensieve to think and to collect himself, but he never lets go of my hand for long, as if he needs the support and comfort of our touch just as badly as I do. Perhaps he does. What I’m having him witness… it’s not for everyone. Not for the faint of heart, and by all means, not for anyone with a weak stomach.

But he never stops repaying my trust. I feel more devastated every time we return from one of my memories, but each time I feel his grip on my fingers tighten, as if understands just how much I need him, and I find comfort and strength in those clever, soulful eyes, and his quiet, encouraging words: “Shall we move on to another one? Please don’t try to spare me. You need to share your burden. It has festered long enough.”

Until finally, after what feels hours and hours of agony, I run out of them. I’ve got no more memories I want him to see. I’m empty. And barely standing.

“This is it,” I say, but I’m so exhausted even my toneless, quivering voice has no volume. “I haven’t got more. Now you know.”

“Thank you,” he says softly, and then my legs finally give out, together with my stubborn conscience. The last thing I feel is a pair of strong hands wrapped around me as I’m falling head-first into a deep tunnel of darkness, for once no longer feeling a thing.

Part 5
hp-mhealthfest.dreamwidth.org/2895.html
 

Profile

HP Mental Health Fest

July 2017

S M T W T F S
       1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031     

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Aug. 21st, 2017 03:36 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios