'Here you go Dr. Weasley.'
'Thank You Hermione. Still not comfortable with first names? Please, I've told you, we've been seeing each other every Friday for, what is it seven years now? You can call me Ron.'
'Sorry, er, Ron. I just, I think it's better to maintain professionalism in front of the patients. I think it helps set a standard.'
Hermione, of course, thought no such thing. She had always heard things about the gangly ginger-haired Doctor and his wandering hands and she didn't want to be the next victim, sobbing in the staffroom. Seven years and it had not happened to her yet. Maybe he was getting better. As the two of them walked into the room where the patient was, they knew that Harry certainly wasn't.
He was sat in the spartan room, rocking gently irregularly backward and forward in the lightweight plastic armchair as if metering out the rhythm to a song that no-one, save himself, could hear.
'Hello Harry.' Doctor Weasley said in the tone he always used when talking to the more extreme, or as he called them, hopeless, patients.'How are we today Harry?' The young man of nineteen looked up from his jiggling, just pausing a little to look into the eyes of his two most regular visitors before the shaking took him over in jitters of excitement.
'Ron! he cried happily. Hermione!' We did it! we saved the world. He's dead. Voldemort's dead! I was the last horcrux! It was so simple really! And Neville! Neville! he saved us in the end.' In one of Harry's hands he was brandishing the 30 centimetre ruler that he had acquired from the creativity space some seven years ago, when his delusions became so serious that he couldn't live with his Aunt and Uncle and cousin anymore.
'I see the delusion has not subsided.'
'No, but it does appear to be changing in nature. This, er, task that he has been obsessed with seems to have resolved. He is mentioning Neville again.'
'That's the brother, yes?'
'Yes. He mentions him occasionally, and he had a period a few years ago where he seemed to save him in some way.'
'Has he visited recently?'
'Strange. Well. Not much to do here I guess.' There was never much to do with Harry Potter. From time to time another psychologist would become interested in his case and write a book citing him. Some world famous name like Lupin, or Moody would take them under their wing, but they would never penetrate what was still popularly known as one of the worst cases of Post-Traumatic Stress disorder that had ever followed parental abuse. He was, in a way, quite famous. People often wrote letters to him, not that he ever read the words they wrote, but it had a cathartic effect. The staff used it as a tactic often, Particularly after the Doctor Black incident, to hand Harry envelopes to open saying it was from Black. He enjoyed that; smiles would light his face like a magic trick.
Dr Weasley and Dr Granger thanked Harry with all the politeness that is borne of knowing that someone isn't really listening, but that courtesy is important.
'I take it he has been told?' Ron's voice punctuated the sterile air after they had closed the door and headed to the next patient.
'About their release?'
'We have told him, but we're not sure he has taken it in.'
'Perhaps the resolution of the initial delusion indicates this. Maybe he is readying himself for the trauma.' Ron didn't seem thoroughly convinced by his own words, but it was better that than walking in silence, and Hermione was clearly having none of his advances today. Perhaps next week he might find her more amiable.
'They won't be allowed to meet him will they? Not after what they did?'
'No, No, of course, but you know the media. There will be renewed interest. He is not a child anymore. The media will have a field day. Photos of him on the front page next to them walking out of prison. A close up of the scar. I imagine they'll track down Neville. If they can find him.'
'He hasn't visited for a while.'
'Well. Who would want to be reminded of that?' Silence fell over the pair of them, and they continued the walk along the daunting corridor of the old mansion in silence. The paintings of old owners and masters seemed to flicker and dance in the afternoon light that streamed uncertainly through the window as if it was not sure whether it was a welcome visitor or not. Across the great ornamental lake the darkness that hid in the forest stared back at the house and dared it to come closer and find a final answer to the centuries-old stand-off.
Harry heard the footsteps fade down the hall and his smile fell a little from his face.
'Hermione?' He asked to no-one. 'Ron?' The air around was still and cold as the flickering sunlight died like a childhood dream behind a steadily overcasting sky. He stood up out of the chair and looked out of the window where the gardener, a giant of a man, was tending to the little menagerie of furry animals kept so that some of the lesser cases of the building could have something to care for before their release. Harry turned his head away from the window and walked to his bare bed, still clutching to his breast the ruler; an object that had worn to the point of having a visible handgrip on one end. He lay down and pulled over him the thin and threadbare blanket that was his only relic of his father and that he clung to regardless of the offers of better, more modern bedding.
His head gifted the pillow the weight of his unkempt hair and his gaunt head, not devoid of the glasses that found their diurnal resting place on his bed side table. He closed his eyes and the room disappeared for him. A bird, maybe an owl, called through the darkening air as Harry just let himself slide out of the woken world. His lips managed to slide a single word as he fell asleep.