|Celandine's Chronicle (celandineb) wrote in cels_fic_haven,|
@ 2007-08-28 11:36:00
|Entry tags:||hp fic draco/harry, hp fic settlement|
HP fic: Resolve [Harry/Draco, general]
Warnings: Deathly Hallows spoilers.
Summary: Draco finds out why Harry hasn't suggested settling their life debt again.
Note: Fourth in the Settlement series: Settlement, Choices, Friends
As he had on nearly every Tuesday night for more than eighteen months now, Draco stepped inside the door of Ollivanders a few minutes before six o'clock, waiting for Harry to finish with his last customer of the day and be ready to spend the evening together.
It was obvious that Harry loved his work. He never hurried a customer, never pressured anyone, but would search through every wand in the shop if need be to ensure that he found one suitable to its new owner. The big rush of wand purchases, of course, was in late summer, when the new students were heading off to Hogwarts for the first time. But there was a steady trickle of business throughout the year: accidents happened, wands broke or were lost. Today Harry was helping an elderly witch who peered up at him with suspicious eyes.
"I'll have you know, young man, that I had my last wand for eighty-two years, and it always served me well. Hazel and unicorn hair. Why don't you find me a nice new wand of the same sort?"
"Because," Harry explained patiently, for the third time since Draco had arrived and goodness only knew how many times before that, "You've already tried all of the hazel and unicorn hair wands that I have and none of them suited. Sometimes a person's magic changes. There's nothing wrong with that, it's a natural consequence of developing your ability throughout the years. Please try this holly and unicorn hair one instead."
It took another twenty minutes and a dozen more wands before at last Harry found one that responded properly to the witch's attempts to use it. He took her Galleons, wrapped the package, and bowed her out the door, turning to Draco with a sigh of relief.
"Thank you for waiting." Harry put his hand on Draco's elbow . "It will just take me a few minutes to lock up, and I'll..."
"... be right with you," Draco finished with him.
Harry smiled a bit ruefully. "You know me rather well, don't you?"
He did, Draco supposed. They might spend only one evening a week together, but most often they spent it talking, sharing all sorts of things. Harry had become his closest friend... certainly he talked more with Harry on that one night than he had done in an entire week with Daphne, most of the years of their marriage. But Harry had married his wife for love, not due to family pressure. He and Ginny probably communicated much better.
Lost in his thoughts, Draco was startled when Harry came back, saying, "I'm ready if you are. Where were we planning to go this evening?"
"I don't think we'd decided. We hadn't booked tickets for anything, and I didn't make any restaurant reservations, did you?"
Shaking his head, Harry put a casual arm around Draco's shoulders to lead him out the door. "Nope." He gazed up at the sky. "It's a nice evening. Want to take a walk?"
"Kensington Park?" Draco smiled at Harry. They both had a fondness for the park where they had walked the first night of their friendship, and often chose to return there.
The park was, as usual, crowded with Muggles, but Draco hardly noticed that anymore. He listened as Harry talked on about what he'd been telling the elderly lady in the shop; how a person's magical signature could change over time, or as a result of illness or injury, so that an old wand no longer worked as well as it once had. Even though Draco had no especial interest in the topic, Harry's enthusiasm was infectious.
In the middle of describing the comparative properties of mahogany, oak, and yew, Harry broke off abruptly and stared at Draco.
"What is it?"
"You're not really that keen on any of this, are you?"
Draco shrugged. "Not for its own sake, no, but that doesn't mean I don't like hearing you talk about it. Because it excites you," he stumbled over that phrase and hurried on, "and I like to know about what you like, what interests you. It makes you happy to talk about these ideas, and so I'm happy to listen."
"Let's sit down." Harry pointed at one of the few benches unoccupied by any young Muggles with radios plugged into their ears.
"Ginny doesn't listen much any more," he said when they were resting comfortably
Draco wasn't certain how to respond to that. They talked about nearly everything, true, but they never talked about Harry's relationship with his wife. Only occasionally did Harry mention her, such as when he and Ginny had gone to spend the holidays with the elder Weasleys, so that he wasn't able to have his weekly meeting with Draco.
"Oh?" Draco said cautiously at last.
"I suppose she's heard it all before." Harry looked down at his lap. "After a while, you know, you've pretty much said everything that you have to say; you've told all the stories, shared all the new ideas, and all that's left are the mundane everyday details."
"Do you think that's true in any relationship?" Draco reflected for a moment, then added, "I mean, I can't deny that Daphne and I ran out of things to say on a certain level, but we were in a somewhat different situation. As friends though, she and I always found plenty to talk about. Do you have the same problem with Ron, for instance, or Hermione, or any of your other old friends?"
"I've never really thought about it." Harry went quiet, and Draco waited.
"No," Harry said at last. "But then, I don't know if it's really fair to compare. I don't live with Hermione or Ron or anyone else; when you're married, there are so many more hours that you're together than is the case with even your closest friends. Perhaps running out of things to say to your spouse is inevitable." Harry sounded regretful but oddly resigned as well. "I'm glad that we still enjoy talking with each other, at least."
Draco reached out and touched Harry's knee, and Harry startled. It was nearly always he, not Draco, who initiated any physical contact; not that Draco didn't enjoy it. Rather, he feared that he enjoyed it too much for either his own comfort or Harry's. There might never be a better opportunity than this for Draco to ask the question that had been plaguing him.
Without letting himself stop and think, lest he put it off once more, Draco said, "Why haven't you ever suggested that we could perform the Relinquishment Spell, Harry? It's not as if settling the life debt would prevent us from remaining friends."
Harry froze, his expression both shocked and guilty. "I couldn't," he said at last in a voice so quiet that Draco could hardly hear him. "It wouldn't have worked. I thought... I hoped... you would suggest it, sometime."
Draco shook his head. "I couldn't, either."
"I see." Harry shifted on the bench. His leg had been resting against Draco's; now he moved it away. "I did believe that becoming friends would resolve matters," he said at a rush. "I don't want you to think that I suggested that under false pretenses, or anything."
"I didn't think you had," Draco said honestly. There was a flutter in his stomach. "What do you want to do about it? I mean, do you want to carry on as we've been doing, give things more time and see? Because I enjoy our friendship, but I can't say that I wouldn't like for it to be more."
"I don't know what I want to do. I'm sorry, I know that's a terrible answer. It's hard for me to think about leaving Ginny; she's been part of my life for over three quarters of it, one way or another. And there's the children even if they are grown now, and the whole extended family... it's something I value a great deal." He sighed and took off his glasses, pressing the heel of his hand to his eyes.
"That's all right," murmured Draco. "I understand."
"Perhaps I shouldn't say this, but since we started see each other, every time that I kiss Ginny, I imagine that it's you." There was a desolate look in Harry's green eyes. "I've kept hoping that would change, that just being friends with you would be enough. But I've been weak, I guess. I taken every opportunity I had to touch you... I don't know if you noticed."
"Oh, I did." Draco kept himself from saying just how much Harry's touch had affected him.
"Yeah, well." Harry bowed his head. "I'm sorry about that."
"I thought that you were just the sort of person who liked physical contact in general," said Draco. "When I saw you with your son you hugged him a lot."
"But that was Albus," said Harry. "Being physically affectionate with my son is different from liking to touch people in general. There are really very few people that I feel comfortable doing that with: only my family, and a very few close friends, like Hermione and Ron. And you."
Draco reached over and took Harry's hand. After a few moments of silence, Draco said, "I'm not going to tell you what to do. I'm not even going to give you friendly advice because my motives would obviously be suspect. But much as I would like us to be more to each other than we are now, I have to tell you, I can't be anything but your friend unless your wife knows what's going on, or you're separated. Daphne and I were honest with each other. I wouldn't be able to trust you if you weren't honest with Ginny."
"That's fair." Harry squeezed Draco's fingers, and then let go.
The loss of that simple contact struck through Draco, but he stopped himself from protesting. Friends could hold hands, that was true, but in their circumstances, it wasn't a safe thing to do. Draco was certain that the more he touched Harry, the more he would want to, and he was determined to stick by what he had just said. If Harry were willing to cheat on his wife, he wouldn't be the person that Draco wanted to be with.
"Do you still want to have dinner tonight as usual?" Harry asked.
"Why not? I mean, we do both have to eat tonight, and it's certainly more enjoyable to do so with you than all alone."
They left the topic alone during dinner, making light and meaningless conversation instead, and Draco noticed that Harry didn't reach across the table to touch his hand as he so often had in the past. When they had finished, he asked, "Do you want to meet next week as usual?" He waited, afraid, for Harry's answer.
"Yes." Harry gave him a crooked smile. "Whatever else, you still are my closest friend, these days."
The knot in Draco's stomach relaxed. "Good," he said, "because I feel the same way."
Nevertheless, going to meet Harry the following week was more awkward than it had been a long time. Harry had owled on Thursday that he had tickets for the theater for them, some musical that Draco was only mildly interested in seeing, and he wondered if this might be Harry's way to avoid talking. They had gone to shows together several times before, but the timing seemed too coincidental for Draco not to be a little suspicious.
There was only time for a quick sandwich before the performance started; although Draco enjoyed it more than he had expected, he waited impatiently for the end.
"I don't want to pressure you," he began, and saw Harry's face tighten in the yellow light of the streetlamps. "No, really," he insisted. "I'm not going to ask if you've come to any decision about what you might want to do, or anything like that. I just want to say that I don't want to us to behave differently because we've admitted that our feelings are little more complicated than maybe either of us necessarily wanted. We can still talk about anything; you can still hug me if you'd like. I think I'm able to cope with that without reading more into it than you intend, and I hope you can do the same."
Harry nodded. "I thought it might be easier if we didn't worry about talking as much for a bit, but maybe you're right. I do have things that I want... I need to tell you. Look, I know it's late, but do you want to have coffee and dessert or something before we go home?"
"If you want to talk, yes," Draco agreed.
Ensconced over slices of cake and coffee -- decaffeinated for both of them -- Harry lifted his coffee cup in a silent toast.
Gravely, Draco returned the gesture, took a sip, and then said, "Did you have something to say about us, or was it something else you needed to talk about?"
"Us. I have... I've thought about it good deal, actually. Not just since last week; it's something I've considered more and more for months now." Harry pressed the tines of his fork into the crumbs of his chocolate sponge, and licked them off. It was a childlike action, and Draco couldn't decide if he found it endearing or irritating. "There's a lot, a lot, that I value in my marriage. But..."
When the silence had continued long enough that Draco wondered if Harry were going to say anything else at all, he prompted, "But?"
"But as I was saying last week, I don't talk with Ginny any more the way I talk with you. I'm not sure that I ever did, really. We were friends before we ever started going out, but we were so young then. Friendship with someone when you're fifteen or sixteen isn't really the same. And then once we started seeing each other seriously after the war, I think neither of us wanted to take positions that might upset the other person. Not that we never had quarrels, because we did, of course, but things like whether the Ministry was right in the kind of sanctions imposed on people like your parents; if Ginny made it clear that she felt strongly one way, then even if I disagreed I would usually let it slide. It didn't seem important, because it wasn't anything to do with us.
"Now I think that was a mistake, because over time we got out of the habit of talking about those things at all, and they are important; what you believe says something about who you are, what kind of person."
"Yes, I know," said Draco softly. He took a sip of coffee and grimaced; he'd picked up Harry's cup by accident and Harry used far too much sugar for Draco's taste. He quickly set it back down, drinking from his own cup to cut the lingering sweetness.
"So that's what makes the difference, for me. That she and I don't really seem to know each other very well any more, if we ever did. And I don't know how we can change that now. I don't know that either of us wants to change any more; it's too old a habit between us." Harry was still fidgeting with his fork. "So there's that. And there's also the fact that when I touch you it's as if I come alive. It isn't just," he paused, glancing around, and then lowered his voice, "a sexual attraction. I mean, that's there, definitely, but it's more. It's as if being around you makes me more myself, more the person that I want to be. Does that make any sense at all?"
In reply, Draco reached for Harry's hand across the table, square and solid in his own, and nodded. "You make me feel more myself, too."
With a relieved smile, Harry said, "That's exactly the sort of thing that I don't think I could say to Ginny. We're comfortable with each other, but there isn't, there never has been, that sort of intensity. I don't know if it's necessary. I guess it isn't, because I think on the whole we've had a good marriage, but now that I know I can feel like this about someone, about you, I can't help but want it all the time."
"Is this your roundabout way of leading up to saying that you're going to leave Ginny?"
"Yes." Harry took a deep breath. "I haven't talked to her about this at all. I have no idea if she has ever guessed, or if she has the same feeling of detachment that I have. And I don't want to hurt her more than I can help; she doesn't deserve that. But dragging things out won't make it easier for anyone. I'm going to talk with her this weekend." His expression was strained, but his voice was resolute.
Draco wondered if Ginny would accept what Harry told her, or if she would resist. There was nothing he could do about it either way, of course, only hope for the best, hope that Harry knew what he was doing.
"Are you going to tell her about me?" Draco had always assumed that Ginny knew Harry had dinner with Draco on the nights she went out with her female friends, but he knew Harry would understand what he meant: would Harry tell Ginny of his attraction to Draco?
"I'm not sure. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't have recognized my feelings for a long time, maybe not ever, but I don't want her to hold you to blame, because you're not. I'm trying to be fair to her, and I don't want her to be unfair to you."
Giving him a faint smile, Draco said, "Well, if she throws you out of the house, you can come and stay with me. I have a guest bedroom, and I promise that I won't molest you unless you ask for it."
"I may take you up on that," Harry said.