Draco sees Neville every Sunday in the hallways of St. Mungo's. At first he tries to ignore him, but since his mother's room is so close to the Longbottoms' eventually he starts acknowledging him. First by nodding, then a soft 'Longbottom' which gets him a smile and a 'Hi Malfoy' in return.
He visits his mother every day. It is horrifying. St Mungo's is ugly and he wants to see his mother Narcissa surrounded by beauty. He has always idealised her in that respect; whatever might have lacked in her parenting, she was always beautiful and elegant. He was proud that all of the Slytherin boys wanted her and all of the girls wanted to be like her.
All that is left of his mother now is this empty, fragile shell. When his father got Kissed it was as if they sucked out her soul too, and he wants to see its beauty preserved. Unfortunately, there are 'Rules and Regulations' at Mungo’s about absolutely everything: furniture, clothing, hygiene. Beauty is not a requirement for proper care according to the rulebook.
He brings handcream and massages it in, so she smells like roses and lavender; but she looks horrible in the hospital gowns, and there isn’t much he can do about that.
She's always happy to see him. She smiles when he enters and frowns when he leaves, but she does not speak at all. Maybe she does not have anything left to say.
After every visit he goes and sits in the garden, a tiny piece of dry grass trapped between large walls, and smokes a cigarette. 'A filthy Muggle habit.' his mother would always say. Now she does not say anything anymore, so Draco feels he's allowed to, deserves to even for putting up with all of this shit. Ahh, swearing, another bad habit his mother would chastise him for.
One Sunday Neville is in there, crying. Draco does not know how to behave. He offers a cigarette, but Neville declines. Then he remembers that he has a chocolate frog in his pocket and gives him that— anything to get the boy to stop crying. The card that comes with it has Potter on it.
Draco scoffs, 'They should have made one of you too. Potter can't always be the hero, you know.'
'They did,' Neville whispers, 'but I don't feel like a hero right now.'
There was a potion, Neville explains, that had gotten his hopes up. It was supposed to regrow the myelin around the brain cells damaged by the curse. Past efforts had failed completely. He had thought that maybe, now that Bellatrix was dead, it might work. It hadn't.
'I tell myself not to hope, but I have to. If I give up on that, I give up on them. I don't know if I could visit them then.' Neville sniffs, wiping his nose, hiding the handkerchief in his pocket.
Draco nods, because he knows exactly what Neville means.
Then he does not see Neville again and he wonders if he's ashamed and avoiding him, but it seems that the Longbottoms have moved rooms, because there are new people in room 5.22.
Three weeks later, Wispy informs him that there is someone to see him. Neville comes in with brochures of a private hospital in France. He moved his parents there. It's small, he says, personal, there's a garden and a golden retriever. Neville thinks it would be good for his mother to go there, because she was always so refined and she belongs in a refined environment. He wants to hug Neville for noticing that, but restrains himself.
When he has owled Maison Bethanie, he goes out and buys a hundred chocolate frogs. He has to eat seventy-two before he finds Neville's card. The Slayer Of Nagini brandishes his sword, then puts it down, staring embarrassedly at the floor. Draco rubs the card between his fingers. Then he goes to puke.
He gets a tour at Bethanie. It's very expensive. The patients are only in their private rooms to sleep; the rest of the day they are free to spend in the communal areas. It's open and light, some people are drawing at the table, while someone else is petting the dog. Draco at first can't see the difference between the patients and the staff, because nobody is wearing uniforms, until he notices the staff have name badges. Aurelie, who gives him the tour, takes him to the garden. It smells of roses and lavender and he agrees at once to the transfer. It's worth every galleon.
Draco places Neville's frog card on his desk, next to his quill holder and fills in the release and transfer forms.
He dresses his mother in one of her favourite green dresses and does her hair. She arrives at Bethanie in style. They've already put in the furniture that he sent them, but he takes her to the gardens first.
She seems delighted, looks up to him and whispers, 'Draco...'
Maybe he was wrong about her, maybe her soul had not gone, maybe it was all that was left. St Mungo's had not been a place for souls, but this place is. Here, at Bethanie, souls can be free.