Chapter 77 - Reality

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Draco was sitting on the bed reading the Daily Prophet when he felt it; a sudden absence of feeling from Harry as if his soulmate's mind had ceased to function properly, and then the tidal wave hit with devastating force. He had been waiting for this since he had had time to consider the bigger picture rather than just being alive.

Harry had been walking and talking since the battle, he'd even almost been himself most of the time, but Draco had known what was to come, and so had almost everyone else. He remembered all too well how Harry had reacted when he had believed he had killed Lucius, and the safe little shell Harry had been living behind since the demise of Voldemort was bound to crack some time.

Draco was on his feet so fast the room span, as Harry stared at his own reflection, laughing hysterically. It was a frightening sound; totally devoid of the aspect of the man Draco loved; frighteningly close to the inhuman laugh of the Dark Lord himself. Draco did not hesitate; he needed to bring Harry back and he needed to bring him back now.

Stepping up to his soulmate he reached out and, taking Harry's face in his hands, turned him so that his lover's startling green eyes were looking directly at him.

"Harry," he said firmly, making sure he was looking into the slightly mad stare, "focus on me. It's shock, you need to remember where you are."

There was confusion and a feeling of unreality coming from Harry and Draco tried to push through it to his soulmate's mind, but it was like trying to see into fog. He knew Harry was there, he could feel him mentally just out of reach, but he couldn't quite touch him. Madam Pomfrey had warned him what to expect when reality finally caught up with his soulmate, and Draco was not about to let Harry suffer alone. He had no doubt that Harry would come back eventually on his own, Harry was far too strong to let this drag him under, but Draco did not want him to have to do this on his own.

The green eyes weren't quite focused on him anymore and Harry's mental presence felt more distant than ever, which annoyed Draco more than he could express. The continual laughing wasn't helping either.

"Harry," he said in a very stern tone, "you are not doing this to me, now focus. I'm here, let me help you."

Dark lashes flicked up and down several times and slowly the laughter died. Draco could not feel the usual, firm mental presence of Harry, but as he watched the green eyes slowly begin to see him, so the fog obscuring his soulmate's mind began to lift. It took a few minutes, but eventually Draco knew he mostly had Harry back.

"He's dead," Harry whispered in a breathless, almost disbelieving tone.

"Yes, Love," Draco replied gently, "he's gone for good. Voldemort can't hurt anyone anymore."

Another few seconds went by as Harry just stared into Draco's eyes.

"I killed him," this was even quieter than the first affirmation. "I'm a murderer."

It was a shock to hear the derisive tone Harry used to talk about himself, but it was not an affirmation Draco had not expected. He knew Harry's psyche very well, and no matter how Harry had gone into the battle with all his Gryffindor courage, Draco had known what his lover would feel in the end.

"No, Harry," he said firmly, opening his mind as completely as he could to let Harry feel and see that he was only speaking the truth, "you are a soldier. In war people are killed and others are the ones who kill them; you did what had to be done. If Voldemort had had his way we would all be dead. You played the part he created for you when he killed your parents and now it is over."

There was disbelief in Harry's expression and drifting through his mind, but it was vague and unfocused; Draco knew he had the real Harry back. There would be pain and recrimination no matter what he said to try and avoid it; that was Harry's nature, but the crisis was passing.

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