Status: Work in Progress

Lost in the Echo

Chapter Four

Draco stood outside St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries, which was hidden inside the Muggle store Purge and Dowse. Somewhere in there, under the guise of a Porticia Washburn, his childhood best friend sat in a world that was not her own. Somewhere in there she lived a life that was not what she wanted.

Taking a deep breath, he exhaled slowly and then made his way in through the front doors. The entry was wide with a domed roof overhead, and inside healers from all over the hospital rushed about, bustling here to there, forever in a rush to try helping as many people as they could.
Even Draco admitted how noble a cause it was, trying to heal those harmed not only during the Wizarding Wars but also in everyday activities. Even though he had often looked down on others when he was younger, he had always held a deep respect for the healers, because he knew that despite how strong he was, he may one day need their help.

He admired the room around him. On the wall opposite where he stood, high above his head, was a trio of round-top windows that he imagined held a spectacular view of London. Just underneath that was a set of three elevators, crowned by light wood molding, and his stomach lurched at the thought of riding in one – after all, those were the only exits he saw in the room besides the Floo network and the doors where he had just entered from, so he imagined that those elevators traveled in much the same way that the Ministry of Magic’s elevators did: up and down and side to side and diagonally and all kinds of ways that would likely make his dinner want to leave his stomach. He swallowed thickly as he turned his gaze towards the center of the room.

In the very center of the room was a tall, rounded desk that he assumed was where he would discover the number of the room Syndil was in, as his mother had refused to divulge any kind of information regarding her visit to Syndil. At the desk sat three elderly-looking witches in front of bulky computer screens. He approached them slowly and was grateful when one looked up at him immediately.

“Can I help you?” she asked in a clipped, no-nonsense tone that reminded him a great deal of Professor McGonagall.
“Good evening.” he said, checking the clock on the desk. It read five o’clock at night. “I’m looking for the room where my friend is. Her name is Syn- erm – Porticia Washburn?”
“Washburn is in room three hundred and ninety four. Use the middle elevator, it will take you directly upwards to the third floor. Once the doors open, you will want to head towards the right down the “Green” hallway. Follow it until the end where another elevator will be. Use that elevator to go up towards sub-level nine. Once the elevator lets you off, you will find the room at the end of the hallway before it goes left. Do you understand?”
“Yes, Ma’am. Thank you.” he said and smiled politely.
“Please bear in mind that visiting hours end at eight o’clock tonight, sharp. If we have not seen you exit, we will send an Auror up to escort you off of the premises. Also, the illness that she suffers from has made her believe that she is the lost princess of a non-existent kingdom called Semper Amici. Keep that in mind as you interact with her. Carry on.” she said, then bent her head once more to the computer screen in front of her.

Draco could only nod dumbly, and then he followed her instructions and within moments he found himself outside Room 394. The door was slightly ajar, so he took a deep breath and knocked three times.

“Come in.” came a firm, regal voice that Draco could not recognize. He took another deep breath, then gently nudged open the door and stepped inside the room.

There, sitting by the window, reading a book, she sat. She looked just the same as she had back then, with the only difference being her womanly figure and a scar that ran down her left eye. She had been a late bloomer, but it was worth the wait. Her white hair was piled atop her head in a regal bun, while two short braids hung to the sides of her face, in front of her ears. On top of her head, just in front of the bun, she wore a small golden crown. Her eyes were that same baby-pink color that Draco remembered, and he couldn’t help but stare in awe at her. It’d been nearly thirty years since he was last able to have a face-to-face conversation with her.

Her eyebrows, however, furrowed in confusion when she saw him. She marked her place in her book, then stood up and walked over to him, only to walk around him in circles like a dog before they lie down.

“Well?” she asked, in a cold clipped tone. “Is that how you greet royalty? You gawk at them? Goodness, what has become of manners!”

Draco was confused for a moment, but then realized what he had done wrong.

“My apologies.” he said, smiling sadly. “Good evening, my Lady.”

She harrumphed and then sat back down in her chair.

“It is improper to call me ‘Lady’ when I am royalty. It would be more proper to address me as ‘Highness’ or ‘Majesty.’ However, since I receive so very few visitors, I shall make an exception. Why have you sought an audience with me, sir?”
“Erm… Thank you? My Lady.” he said, then thought. How could he explain why he was here without overwhelming her?
“I was sent to you by…” he began, thinking, but Syndil cut him off.
“Oh, you must have been the manservant Narcissa was going to send to me. I told her she need not do such a thing. I am perfectly capable of doing things on my own.” Syndil said, sighing as she pressed the button to signal a Healer – or, so he assumed.
“Erm. Yes. That would be me. My name is Draco.” he said, consciously keeping his lip from sneering. ‘Servant, eh, Mother? Perhaps we should have a little chat when I get home.’ he thought, sourly.
“I did not ask for your name. Nevertheless, since you have introduced yourself, I suppose I shall formally introduce myself, though you already know who I am. I am Syndil of Semper Amici. I am the first born princess to the throne.”
“And who is your mother?” Draco asked without thinking. Syndil cut a glare at him.
“My mother’s name is of no concern to a servant like you.” she said, and Draco winced. Perhaps he should go apologize to the servants in Malfoy Manor. Being called servant in that tone of voice was absolutely intolerable. How had they managed not to strangle him when he was younger?
“I have no need of you right now. Go… Fold those clothes on my bed… or something.” she ordered, and then picked up her book again and began reading. Draco took another glance at the bed, but there were no clothes to be folded.
“Erm…. My Lady?” he asked, timidly. It felt so unnatural to be acting this way. Normally he was the one in charge.
“Ugh. What?” she snapped, slamming her book down on the table.
“There are no clothes to fold here…” he murmured and he saw her roll her eyes.
“Of course there are, you nincompoop! There, right there! Just in front of you!”

Draco looked back at the bed in confusion and she sighed in exasperation again, then stood and marched over to him and lifted an imaginary pile of clothes and threw it in front of him.

“Erm… Alright then.” he said, and then mimicked folding a shirt in half, then in half again and setting it on the bed.
“Oh, can you do anything right?! You are not folding them properly! Must I teach you everything?” she demanded, then pulled the imaginary shirt off the bed and snapped it in the air.
“You fold it like this: First, the sleeves get folded behind the torso of the shirt. Then, you fold the torso in half. Then, where the neckline is, you fold that underneath the torso of the shirt, as well. And then you stack it on the bed. Goodness, were you raised by hooligans?!” she said, angrily. “Now that I have shown you the proper way to fold the laundry, do it right!”

She stamped back over to her chair and picked up her book again, and then thoroughly ignored Draco’s presence.

For the next two and a half hours, Draco pretended to fold laundry. When it was quarter to eight o’clock, he asked her where she wanted her ‘clothes’ to be stored, and she waved him away and said she would take care of them. He nodded, and then said his goodbye’s, and after she angrily lectured him on asking for dismissal, she finally waved him off and said she would see him soon.

As he made his way to the front doors, he stopped in at the front desk to speak with the woman who had given him directions earlier.

“Ma’am, might I have a moment?” he said.
“What is it?”
“Erm… Porticia. How deep does her belief that she is a princess go?”
“Well, if you ask her what she sees, she’ll tell you that you two are in her bedchambers at her palace and that we are blocking her from going to the throne room to accept her crown and her place as the rightful Queen of Semper Amici. She treats everyone here as if they are a servant of hers, and many of our Healers have simply stopped going to check on her. She’s able to function as an adult with little difficulty on her best days, and on her worst days… well she’s motionless. It’s like she’s dead or paralyzed or something. Our best have tried to help her, but even our magic can only do so much. She will likely be here for the rest of her life, because we can’t trust her not to reveal our world to the Muggles, and she can’t access and control her magic like the rest of us.” the woman said, then looked up sadly towards the direction of Syndil’s room.
“I pity her. To think what torture she must have endured to make her completely lose sight of reality… It makes my blood run cold. We will keep watch on her, though. I do not think it is her true nature to treat people the way that she does… but I could be wrong.”

Draco looked back towards her room. The witch was right – it was not Syndil’s true nature to treat people as if they were scum on her shoe.

He just hoped he could help her. Even if it was just a small bit… perhaps then he could feel less guilty.