Fic: My Old Ways, 6/6 (Harry/Draco, NC-17) for heathen_ursidae Author:derryere Recipient:heathen_ursidae Title: My Old Ways Rating: NC-17 Pairing(s): Harry/Draco Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended. All characters engaging in sexual activity are 16 years or older. Also, Nick Hornby's How To Be Good has inspired so much of this it needs to be credited/praised to a sickening degree. Summary: In trying to become a better person, Harry seeks the help of a certain professional. Warnings: *deep breath* plot-induced OOCness, AU for serious muggle lifestyle, language, boysex, hetsex, crack, feelings, flangst, canon-pairings, first-person, a lot of words, and the weird. Loads of weird. Word Count: 54K Author's Notes: Hellooo, heathen_ursidae! One of your prompts mentioned 'an awkward moment escaping an orgy gone wrong', and that's where I started. Originally. Where I ended up is—Well, the orgy somehow disappeared while the awkward and the things going wrong stayed put. Despite the lack of that main element, I hope very, very, very very very much that you might still enjoy some of it :) I'd like to thank the mods for giving me more time than anyone should get, and my beta, J, who did this at a superhuman speed. Any remaining mistakes are the product of own stoopid.
14. THE SECOND BIG FIGHT
and also my all-times, top-ten, desert island favourite fight
"Well, that was . . ."
"I hate that guy," Draco says. He's pacing back and forth in the living room, troubling his hair and walking off his adrenaline. I'm on the couch, amusedly following his movements when he repeats, "I HATE that guy!"
I smile sympathetically, not knowing if it's okay yet for me to tell him I hate Nott, too. But Draco abruptly stops in his step, turning to glare at me with a look I haven't seen in ages.
"Well," he starts meanly. "I suppose you're happy now."
My amusement ebbs away a little. "What d'you mean? Why would I be—"
"Oh, come off it, Harry. You don't think I notice? Always quick with those snide little comments and that fucking sarcasm. Always going out of your way to prove me as some—kind of—" His words jumble as he tries to say them, so he gives up with a frustrated grunt. "Well, you won now, didn't you?"
I frown up at him, feeling deeply indignant even though I know he's right. "Hey, I didn't win anything, all right?"
"You wanted me to punch someone's lights out from day one," he accuses. "Well I just did. So. That would mean you won. Whoop-dee-fucking-doo for you!"
"No, not Look Draco. Look Harry, is who. You don't get it. I worked so hard for this. So fucking hard for this change. I actually thought that for once, I actually felt that for once I was on the right track and—" He stops himself, the muscles in his jaw rippling under his skin as he grits his teeth. "And now it's all ruined," he continues, looking away. "Just because of that stupid fucking asshole of a Nott."
I blink at him for a quiet heartbeat, unsure of I just heard it right. "Wait," I say, not understanding, "you don't actually believe still believe in that . . . all that . . ." I shrug apprehensively. "Spiritual shit."
Draco barks a small, cynical laugh. "Yeah, I still believe in all that spiritual shit, Harry! That shit saved my life, you asshole!" He seems ready to spit fire right then, but instead of picking up the picture frame from the mantelpiece and throwing it at my head like I expect him to he deflates, slumping back against the fireplace. "What do you know, anyway? You're just glad to see my lose my fucking marbles. You don't care that it's the end of everything I've worked for. That all those people who I've convinced to throw their lives upside down, to get rid of their . . ." He shakes his head, "Fridges and TVs, that they'll come to me tomorrow asking me why the hell I punched a defenceless homeless guy in the face. You don't care that they probably won't even fucking believe in me anymore, or that this is the first fucking time in five years I said fuck and—" His babbling stops, suddenly, and a enlightened expression smoothes out his angry features for the smallest of seconds. "Oh, shit," he says. "I need a drink."
I don't have time to reply and he's already walking toward the kitchen. I jump up in pursuit, the heat of undeniable guilt rising to my face and making me quick on my feet. I catch him at the refrigerator, trying to open a beer bottle with his teeth.
"I don't think you should," I start feebly. "I mean, I'm sure they'll understand if . . . if you explain what happened. I mean, even the best of us occasionally—"
"Hey, you know what I think?" He looks up from the stubborn bottle in question. "Fuck you, is what I think."
I watch as he tries to literally bite the cap off the bottle, and decide that this needs to stop before the man hurts himself. Far too easily, I grab the beer from his hands. Draco blinks up, oddly surprised, and then frowns angrily. I don't expect him to grab the beer back, so when he does the act is just as simple as it was for me. I give him a stern look and make to take it from him once more, but this time he holds on firmly. I give it a hearty yank, but he's got quite a hold on it, and it only just slides minutely in his hands. He pulls back, letting go one hand to push at my shoulder.
"Shove off," he says, sounding every bit the spoiled kid I know him to be.
And me, being equally the confrontational jerk that I am, push him too. I don't mean to put so much force into it, but I forget how slight he actually is and am surprised when he stumbles and his back hits the closed refrigerator door.
His nostrils flare with anger, and he tries to leash out for a even harder shove—putting his weight into it—but I catch his hands as they reach my chest and use his momentum to rock him back against the fridge, pinning his wrists to the surface as I press my full length flush against him. My head is heavy with the feel of it, and I know it can't be right how he makes me lose it like this. My breaths come shallowly, lingering high in my chest as I look down at him. He gazes back in challenge, all anger and flushed cheeks.
"Draco Malfoy," I mutter, my face a breath away from his. "You drive me in-fucking-sane."
"The name," is his reply, uttered through gritted teeth, "is Fixit."
Slowly, I lean down to run my nose along the line of his cheek, inching toward his ear as I whisper, "Draco."
He struggles in my grip, and the friction that causes only elicits a quiet and breathy moan from me. In reaction I bite down on the jutting curve of his jaw, then soothe it over with a swift tongue. Draco gasps, and there's a hint of a grin over my lips as I whisper it again against the wet skin,
I quickly nip at the point below his ear and then move up to suckle his earlobe, licking and biting down until his shaky, half-hearted attempts to wriggle out of my hold turn into something else, something that's a lot more like rubbing, his body against mine. And when he arches up just right, rutting his clad half-arousal headily to my own, something inside me snaps and then I just can't get enough of this—of his skin, of those minute, intoxicating noises he keeps on making—so I let go of one hand and hold on tightly to his hip as I rut back against him. The sensation is overwhelming, and we both groan it out; Draco curling a tight hand into my hair, and me dipping down to leave a trail of open-mouthed kisses to the line of his throat. At his pulse-point I bite down, hard, and he hisses and pulls my head back. From the odd angle I look down my nose at him, his skin flushed and eyes dark with something thick and sultry, and I am more turned on than I can ever remember being.
Maybe the thought transfers, because just then he uses the same hand fisting my hair to pull my face close to his.
"Say it again," he says on a breath, rolling his hips in a maddeningly slow wave.
My jaw slackens at the feel of it, and I barely even know what he's saying.
"Say it," he urges, a needy undertone to his voice that's suddenly so much more erotic than it should be.
"What?" I ask, vaguely, cocking my head to lick the corner of that open mouth.
"My name," he whispers, his lips brushing against mine. "Say it."
I let go of his other wrist to cup the side of his neck, my thumb parallel to his cheekbone as I rest my forehead against his.
"Draco," I say, letting the name rumble in my chest. I kiss his upper lip, wetting it before repeating the syllables, "Draco." And again, after playfully biting his cheek, "Draco." My lips moving to other corner of his mouth, his own pressing a an askew kiss to the dip of my chin, "Draco." His bottom lip, sucking it into my mouth and giving a small nip before releasing it, still somehow managing a low-voiced and final, "Dra . . . Draco . . ." before crushing our mouths together with a muffled groan. At first it's just slick lips, mixing our breaths in a slow rhythm to match that of our hips, but then he tilts his head just right and slips in a tongue and my insides just melt.
He is so hot, and I am so hot for him that I don't even care how my kissing is probably coming across—sloppy and urgent and noisy. But whatever I give he takes, slacking his mouth further and sliding his tongue against mine with a certain abandon that goes straight to my groin. I try to move my hips faster, harder, looking for more relief and we share murmured gratitudes breathed onto each other's lips until his hands find their way down to front of my jeans. It occurs me to then, just as he cups me with a strong hand and I practically whimper into his mouth, how good this can actually get.
"Fuck," is the extent of my articulation as he strokes me through the thick fabric. I hold on for dear life, trying to deepen the kiss again but each time I'm distracted by the pressure of his fingers moving against my erection. "Want . . ." I attempt words, pausing to brush our lips together, ". . . your hand . . . on my . . . cock . . ."
For all the better ways I could've said that, it seems to work just fine because a heartbeat later Draco's hands are frantically working on unbuttoning my jeans and fumbling with the zipper. I know what's coming next, but the sensation of his hot hand wrapping around my hard prick—experimentally stroking as he pushes down the elastic band of my boxers—still renders me to a single, surprised moan that I muffle to the side of his neck. His fingers work deftly, deliberately, occasionally flicking over the head to tease the slit or dipping down to brush over my balls.
My own hands are now travelling under his shirt—my shirt—greedily grazing over every expanse of skin, feeling the contours of his chest and running the flat of my thumb over his nipples as often as I can to hear him make that heady noise in the back of his throat. All the while my face is pressed closely to his neck, where I suck and lick and have by now made a sky map of bruises. I nose the nape of his hair, breathing in the sweaty scent of him and then set to show an impressive amount of self-will by pulling back to look him in the eye.
He pauses in his movements, searching my face for alarm and on finding none he moves in for a quick and urgent kiss. I follow his lips when he pulls back, my heart wild against my ribcage as I gather the courage that manifests itself in a shaky, whispered,
"Let me fuck you."
My eyes are closed when I say this, my forehead resting on his, and it's only the warmth of his breath as he replies—"Yeah. Okay."—that makes me open them again. I keep his gaze as I let my hand drift to the fastening of his trousers, making quick work of those irrational obstacles. He gasps as my hand dips under, pulling out his heavy, leaking cock. I make some movements, twisting my wrist in ways I think I would enjoy too, and by the look on his face and the noises he's making I don't think I'm doing an all too bad a job of it.
"Harry," he pants, arching up into my fist. Please . . ."
I swallow, quietly murmuring in reply that—"I . . . don't know . . ."
"Just . . . keep doing that," he says, almost distractedly as he reaches for my other arm. He tugs at it, and I don't know what he wants.
"Your hand," he clarifies impatiently. "Give me your hand."
I do as he tells me, raising my hand so he can see it and immediately he grabs it, brings it to his mouth and starts sucking on two of my fingers—flicking his tongue between them, curling it around and then sucking again. For some reason this makes me blush so fervently that I can feel the flush spread all the way down. It doesn't help when he looks at me as he does it, and my grip on his cock slackens a bit. He takes this opportunity to toe off his shoes and shimmy out of his trousers, holding on to my raised hand for balance.
"Oh, God," I whisper as he lifts a leg and hooks it high up my thigh, pulling me closer like that. Our throbbing erections meet messily, and it's so brilliant that I forget all other resolves and agree with myself that I want to do this—rubbing up against the hollow dip Draco's pelvis, making the heads of our cocks brush together every other heartbeat—for the rest of forever.
But soon enough Draco has my fingers in his mouth again, and then he's guiding them down behind him, over the swell of his buttocks and between them—and even further, placing one over a tight ring of muscle and telling me to push. I do, and he hisses, so I want to pull back but he won't let me.
"Just—easy," he says. "Yeah—like—fuck, yes, like that, don't—stop—"
He pushes back onto my finger and I'm brave enough to try and add another, wrapping my other hand around both our cocks at the same time. It feels good, it feels so fucking good and not only for me, I know, because he bucks wildly and bites down on my shoulder and I'm so close to coming that I need to still entirely and catch my breath before doing anything else.
Draco, on the other hand, is frantic and unwilling to stop moving altogether. His hands are all over me, under my shirt and down my back, squeezing my arse and all but mewling at me to keep on. He bunches my shirt high up, closing his mouth over a nipple and the wave of ecstasy that sends through me leaves me no choice but taking a hurried and unsteady step back.
"Hold on," I say, voice breaking. "Just a moment."
Draco stares at me predatorily. His chest is heaving in time with mine, his expression unreadable and dark in this worked up state of ours. I take a deep breath, and then cautiously take off my shirt. My shoes, jeans and underwear are next to go—and Draco, mimicking this, takes off his own shirt in a majestic, wild movement.
I'm ready to move back into my righteous place when he stops me with an easy hand to the chest and says,
"You've got oil here somewhere, right?"
"Yes, here—the kitchen. It's . . ." His hand slowly travels down my torso, and distractedly glances at the path his hand his following. I lean into his touch, but it's the wrong move—it shakes him out of it, and he quickly pulls back his hand. "You find the oil," he says, stepping out from between me and the fridge and quickly setting toward the living room.
I don't even bother looking. I just open the cabinet where I know it is, throw out everything inside it onto the floor and quickly wade through the array of bottles—taking the one I need with me as I all but run out of the kitchen.
"You got it?" Draco breathes, but I don't know what I've got anymore because he is lying on the couch, spread, fingers buried in himself and oh god oh god oh—
"Fuck, Harry." He arches to his own touch, brows furrowed with effort. "Come the fuck over here."
I don't need to be told this twice. I maybe almost trip over my own feet trying to get to the couch quicker than the three steps' time it usually takes, and when I'm there I don't even know where to start. I crawl over him, hovering close, and he takes the bottle from my hand and lets a small amount of oil pool at the centre of his palm. I wonder where that's going to go, and then I don't wonder anything at all but holy fucking shit as he slicks it over my cock and down, up, down, and I move my hips in hope of more contact but he stops all too soon. I'm ready to protest when I notice that he hasn't so much stopped as reverted to waiting for me to make the next move.
I am shaking a little as I place the head of my prick at his entrance, the excitement and nervousness overlapping constantly, and I try to ease my way in gently when Draco pulls me closer with a frustrated grunt, pushes into me, arching off the couch and babbling half sentences such as—"So fucking close right—", or "If you go slow now I'll fucking—". These quickly turn into, "Fuck, fuck—harder, shit, faster—", when I thrust into him and don't stop, keeping on in a quickening pace. He's so unbelievably freaking tight and the heat is impossible, and there's no way I'm going to last another second. I move my hips sharply, and when his legs come up around my hips the angle changes and Draco groans, and I groan, and I feel his hand work on his cock between us and the noises we make are so wet and fucking erotic that it's too soon but I can't hold it back anymore and I come, I come so hard, so intensely, blindly slamming into Draco until I have nothing left—not a shred of energy or power to even keep myself up, and I collapse onto him, shuddering.
I'm not very aware of what is happening for some while, but there's a hand gently drawing soothing lines over my back and a pair of lips pressing quiet kisses to my neck, shoulder and the joints that bring them together. I have half the mind to pull away, slightly, before I crush the man beneath me. I lie on my side, still catching my breath, and his leg follows my hip—where the hook of his knee still draped over.
He moves against me, withering, and I vaguely register that he's still hard. My hand, lazily resting at the dip of his waist, moves to his lower back to urge him closer. He buries his face in my chest, hands slipping behind me to grip my cheeks as he pulls himself flush against me—whimpering at the friction of thighs against his cock. He pushes between my legs, and it takes him once, twice, three times and then he's there—muffling a loud cry into my collar bone, biting down into the flesh above it as he rides it out. I whisper encouragements close to his ear, and then some words of sleepy comfort. He laughs breathily into my neck, and I laugh a little too.
He is warm and smaller and fits against me quite perfectly, and I feel myself slipping into the easiest sleep I've known in years.
15. THE ONE GIFT I GOT TO GIVE
with which also got to hit someone over the head
Something has changed. What exactly is beyond me, and I'm not talking about the obvious here—I'm talking about something more abstract here, something in the air or maybe just in me. Scrambling eggs in the light or the morning, bright as it is glistening off the snow outside, there is a feeling I can't shake off. I try really hard, I think and try to remember—what was it again that was wrong with the world? I can name the usual. Hunger, disease, hate. But I don't feel it. So I know humanity is pretty nasty, and I know the world's crappy and global warming and all, I know—but it still sounds like bullshit to me. What do you mean, crappy? The world is awesome. The world is GREAT. It's Christmas and it's snowing, I've had sex last night and again this morning, and yeah—sure. With Draco Malfoy. But who cares, because the world is the most awesome freaking—
"Would you please stop singing to yourself?" a rumbling voice queries from behind me. I shoot him a big grin over my shoulder, and find that he's still sitting there—a mostly silent, gloomy lump of human, his face dropped onto the surface of the table.
"Cheer up," I happily urge him. "I've got food!"
Draco mutters something illegible about kids in Africa, and I whistle a Christmas tune as I place the hot pan on the table and set the plates. His head's in the way, though, so I pause to run my hand through his hair—then I give a tug, lifting his face up. He gives me a miserable glare, and I smile down at him.
"Breakfast," I say, brightly, and slide the plate where his head was a second ago.
We eat—or, well, I eat, Draco pokes his eggs and pouts, but we do it in relative silence. Every now and then I start babbling, usually about things like the fact that it's snowing or how lovely the food is, grinning around me like an idiot. Draco concludes the event by dropping his fork and saying,
I chuckle, humouring him, and then patiently explain that, "No, it doesn't."
He groans quietly, pulling a grimace that makes me think he's about to cry.
"Wait. I've got something for you." I stand to walk out of the kitchen, brushing his shoulder as I pass and adding, "Don't move! I'll be right back!"
In my room, it takes me a rummaging minute—head deep in my wardrobe—but I find it. This brings back the whistling as I saunter back downstairs, to Draco, who is still depressed and grimacing.
"Merry Christmas!" I say, handing him the long, thin package. On seeing his honestly surprised face, I add, "I bought it a while ago. Didn't think I'd give it to you, what with your sense of humour and all, but . . . hey, look at us now!"
He takes it from me, warily eyeing both me and the gift. There's a deeply confused frown etched above his brows as he unwraps it, and I watch—with glee—as he stares at it for long incomprehensive moment.
"What . . ." he starts, ". . . the hell?"
"It's a shaman stick," I say, perhaps a little bit too enthusiastically. "For tha spiritual leadah!"
The look of non-understanding on Draco's face turns into that of stammered apprehension. He holds the long, twisting cane as if it's talking to him. "What do I do with it?" he deadpans.
Rolling my eyes, I snatch the thing from him. "You shake it," I tell him, shaking it so that the little balls of exotic fruit tied to the neck of the cane rattle with a pleasant sound. "Or," I add, hitching it higher in my grip and giving Draco's head a little tap with its end, "hit people it."
"Hey!" He rubs the top of his head indignantly, scowling at. "Give me that," he says, trying to grab the stick back. I leap out of reach, and he gets up to make another move for it—but I'm pretty quick, and I take advantage of the fact that he's standing now by swooping close and wrapping my arms around him. His are now trapped, and the stick behind his back where he can't reach it. I laugh, quietly, and say,
He still has that angry pout, and while it was a face I used to want to punch so badly ten years ago right now it's nothing but the most endearing sight. I lean in to kiss him, smiling when he still won't stop pouting—pressing his lips tightly together—and it takes a few well-placed nips for him to relent with a frustrated sigh. But he relaxes all the same, so I pull him closer, liking him when he tastes like eggs and tea.
When I pull away, though, the scowl is back within a split second.
I make an impatient clucking sound with my tongue, giving him a little shake. "Cheer up, man! It's Christmas, you got a gift, you just had great sex with—if I may say so myself—a gorgeous man and above all you're free to be yourself. Your sneering, cussing, cute little self." I grin at him. "What more do you want?"
He glares at the base of my neck, and I think there might be a slight blush low on his cheeks. He drops his head to my chest, bluntly, and mumbles, "I hate being myself."
"Draco," I laugh, bringing up a hand to brush his hair from the side of his face. "Everyone hates being themselves most of the time." He grumbles moodily, hands grabbing the back of my shirt as I add, "Didn't you know that?"
As the day progresses, everything keeps on being amazing. Draco is depressed and moody, but everything is still amazing. Even when he won't even watch the Dr Who special with me and locks himself in the bathroom, I'm untouched in my happiness, and decide instead to pay a visit to friends and show off my new state of bliss. The streets are sludgy and only the saddest souls brave the pubs, but I don't feel the need to be cynical about any of it. It's bizarre and far too easy.
I find Ron and Hermione in front of their TV, slouched on the couch as they gaze ahead. It would be normal, had the TV been on. I sit on the coffee table opposite them, putting a happy hand on both their knee and giving them a little shake as I cheer for Christmas and the beauty of today.
They stare at me, sceptically, and—to my utter shock—tell me where to go.
"What is wrong with you?" I look from Ron to Hermione, puzzled. "Is this about Draco? About the punching?"
Hermione snorts, looking away. Ron just drops his gaze to his hands, appearing to be something akin to ashamed.
"I don't get you two," I say. "Aren't you glad that you don't have to—well, pretend to be good anymore? That that's over? That I was right?" I add with a smile. "Especially that last part."
Ron glances up at me, broody. "You don't get it, Harry," he mutters. "It wasn't fake. At least not at first. For two weeks it was . . . it was nice feeling like we were doing the right thing exactly." He shoots a quick look Hermione's way, as if to see if she agrees. "It was nice that there was someone to tell us how to do right, you know? And then . . . I suppose I knew it wasn't absolute or perfect or that real, exactly .I mean, we all knew, but . . . it was nice." He shrugs. "It was a nice thing to believe in."
"Uhh . . ." I shake my head, confused. "He's not dead or anything. He's still there, you know. Draco. Fixit. Whoever. You can come see him right now, actually. In fact I think he'll very much—"
"No," Hermione interrupts. "It's not the same now."
"Because now," she says, slowly bringing her eyes round to look at me, "we will be pretending."
"Yeah," Ron agrees. "This fucking sucks."
"What? This doesn't make any sense. How will you be pretending now where you weren't before?"
"You don't get it, Harry," Ron says again. "You weren't a part of it."
"But he didn't do anything wrong. He just punched an ass of a bloke. Big whoop. I tell you, if you'd heard what the man was saying, you'd have done the—"
"You don't know. You're just happy he knocked out someone."
"What?" I frown at them. "Why does everyone keep saying that?"
"Because it's true," Hermione sharply replies, and I feel my impenetrable shield of happiness crack a little. I glance down, licking my lips awkwardly, and quietly close the conversation with:
"I guess I'll be going home."
Neither hurries to stop me, so I get to my feet, ready to walk out again. As I pass them, Ron grabs my sleeve and gives me a somewhat abashed, apologetic look. He doesn't say anything, though, so I ask,
"You two want to come around for new year's?"
A hesitant smile flashes across Ron's features. "Yeah," he says. "That'd be nice."
"Great," I say. "I'll see you then."
Back on the street it's darker than it was moments before, but the sky is clear and certain stars push vividly against the atmosphere. My friends are sad and disappointed, my spiritual healer is depressed and our Christmas gifts we gave away to homeless people, but I take a breath and find that I am still happy. I wonder whether it's something new, this happiness of mine, or something I just misplaced for a long time. Then I zip close my coat and start my walk back home.
16. THE NEW YEAR
and the firework that go with it
My new year's party is a somewhat feeble affair. Usually there are more people, and usually Ginny invites them all and I just sit back and enjoy the evening. But this year Ginny isn't here, but Draco is, and we're waiting for our two guests. He sits in the armchair with a bowl of cheese snacks in his lap, eating nervously. He's afraid Ron is going to hit him. I told him that Ron wouldn't, and he didn't believe me.
I lean over the armchair from behind to scoop a hand of the snacks, and take the opportunity to playfully bite his neck. "Relax," I tell him. "It's going to be fine."
He mumbles something like, "Easy for you to say," around a mouthful cheese snacks. I growl behind his ear, pretending to be something canine and he swats me away, annoyed that I'm trying to make fun of his serious worrying. I pull away, ruffling his hair and knowing he doesn't like it, and pop a cheesy thing into my mouth as I flop onto the couch.
When Ron and Hermione show up it's nearly nine, and they've barely even taken their coats off before starting about how they can't stay long. It's a bit ridiculous, I think, and I tell them that. Ron blushes and apologises, but Hermione rolls her eyes at me, saying that they can't help it—Ginny is also family, and it's all very well that we decided not to be together anymore but she's having a new year's party too and they can't just not show up.
In an odd flash I remember how I imagined a life where Ron and Hermione weren't together, one where Ginny and I would be giving two sets of parties for every occasion—one for Ron, one for Hermione. It should be ironic that this idea turned around to bite me in the ass, but instead it's just vaguely amusing.
The four of us end up sharing a few glasses of wine in uneasy companionship. I do most of the talking, and if anyone else braves conversation it never has anything to do with what happened just days ago or the months that lead up to it all. Draco doesn't talk at all, quietly sipping his glass of water for about an hour and half until Hermione tightly announces that they have to get going, if they want to make it to Ginny's.
I am disappointed as I close the door behind them, after offering them both quick hugs and best wishes. I suppose I did half expect to find a way to resolve things by sitting everyone together, as if the insanity of it all will dawn on them by being in close proximity of me. It doesn't feel like something I can't fix, and I'm not worried. But when I walk back to the living room I find Draco sitting forward, leaning on his elbows on knees, heels of his hands digging harshly into his eyes, and think that maybe I'm not quite as affected as others might be. He takes in a shuddering breath and I hear him say,
Sighing, I walk to his armchair. I crouch at his legs, trying to peek at his face from under.
"Hey," I say, pushing back his hair. "Mister. Hey. Look at me."
He holds his head in his hands, blinking at me. His eyes are red, and he looks defeated. It's an honest hurt expression.
"Fuck it," I say, straightening up again. I extend a hand. "Come on."
Draco gazes up warily. "What?"
"Enough. This shit's been going on for too long. We're going." I wriggle my fingers at him. "Come on."
He doesn't seem convinced, but takes my hand anyway. I pull him to his feet, and when he's good and balanced I go to get our coats.
"Don't worry," I call from the hall, hearing him frown all the way over here. "Gatecrashing is great fun."
"Did anyone ever tell you," he says, joining me at the door and adjusting his scarf, "that it's weird how you're only happy when everything's shitty?"
"What can I say?" I exclaim happily, pushing the door open. "Trauma's a bitch!"
We walk the distance because Draco is still queasy about sidealonging and magic. The city is buzzing with the eve's purpose, and drunken party goers already begin to spill out into the streets: girls wearing plastic tiaras with next year's numbers, draping their feathered boas over the necks of their boyfriends who make a show of it, dancing on the road, working it for the laughter of their friends. There's no meanness or bad will to be found, everyone seems equally stupid and intoxicated, and the idea is comforting and exciting at the same time. Walking the streets on new year's night, we all seem to belong.
We get to Ginny's friend's apartment at half past eleven. Parvati's the one who opens the door, a happy 'hello!' on her lips before registers who we are. She freezes. I give her a smile.
"All right, Patil?" Without waiting for an answer I brush past her into the busy room, Draco on my heel. No one notices at first, so I make a point of shouting a loud greeting around the room. Draco cringes a little next to me, and I know he's looking at his feet. There are a lot of people here who lost their fridges thanks to him.
The music is playing quite loudly, but the din of conversation dies down for a moment as odd glances make their way to us. Ginny blinks at me, then around her, as if to make sure she's not the only one who noticed. She's definitely not. Next to her there's a tall, a bit older guy with a vaguely familiar face, and his hand lazily lingers about her waist and I think, Oh.
We're interesting, but not interesting enough to keep the people from their drinks and words for too long because the moment of silence following our grand entrance is actually quite short. Ginny grabs the hand of the tall guy, and wobbles her way over to us. She's flushed and quite possibly drunk, I notice, and brace myself for a good time.
"Hello!" she says with biting brightness. "What the fuck are you two doing here!"
"Your party trumped ours!" I exclaim, equalling her somewhat sarcastic enthusiasm. "And I felt Draco here needed to get with the people." I elbow him lightly.
"Oh!" She nods. "All right. Just—don't make a scene. I'll fucking kill you, Harry Potter. This is a happy night, yeah?" When the man behind her shifts uncomfortably, she suddenly remembers his presence and pulls him forward a bit. "This is Liam," she introduces, the slur of her tongue evident now. "We're going out."
I shake the man's hand, noting his nervous stance and think that he probably expects me to be here to win back my ex. In an attempt to bring to the light his misjudgement, I shove Draco forward a bit.
"Say hello, Draco," I jokingly command.
"Ah, we're acquainted, I believe," Liam says when Draco doesn't do anything. I turn to look at him, and find him staring at the floor wide-eyed, a serious blush blotching his neck and cheeks.
"Do you?" I ask, curiously.
"Our parents were familiar," Liam says cautiously, visibly wary of my reaction. He glances to Ginny, who's following the conversation with a blank indifference, and then adds, "My little brother, he—"
"—McLaggen," I marvel, a slow grin spreading over my face. "You're Cormac's brother."
Liam gives a relieved little smile and nods, and I'm just about to share a follow-up thought when Draco grabs my arm—tightly—and drags me away. I spin cartoon-like with my head still in the same place and manage an amused "Bye!" over my shoulder as I go. Draco roughly leads us to the beverages table, and the few people who are standing there clear away almost immediately. I think I've seen them last week, but I can't be sure.
Draco watches them go for a brief second before turning to me and hissing, "I don't want to be here."
"I know," I reply, matching his hiss with a conspiring whisper. "But you have to. Look, you have to face these people sometime. Just—" I gesture around haphazardly. "Talk to them. Mingle. Explain. They'll have to understand."
"They won't understand," he retorts through gritted teeth, trying not to raise his voice. "Did you understand when I explained myself to you two months ago?"
"Oh, for fuck's sake, would you just—" I stop, shaking my head. I grab nearby chair and pull it in front me, mumbling a quiet, "If Ginny kills me, it's your fault," in Draco's direction before getting on the chair, standing high above the crowd.
"Hello, people!" I begin, loudly addressing the room. Only some heads turn so I raise my voice and try again, "OY! FRIENDS!"
This earns me the reaction I want, the room silencing awkwardly, and so I continue: "Uhh, well. Happy new year! Whoo!" I add a lame laugh, but get no response. I clear my throat. "Anyway. I'm sure most of you know Draco over here. Or Fixit. Or—well, you know, the crazy guru guy who made you throw out your stuff." A quiet murmur washes over the room, and next to me I can almost sense Draco shrinking into himself. "Some of you people were actually pretty nuts about him, huh? Remember that? A few days ago? Of course you do. Just as I'm sure you remember that thing where he went and punched someone's light out. Which apparently pissed you guys off. Now I still don't know what the hell it all was about, whatever you lot were doing with the vow of silence and shit but—seriously? That bloke Draco punched, Nott? He was an asshole. He deserved that and way more, if you ask me. And I should know about being good, right? I saved the world, ha ha." Again, my joke doesn't have the expected effect. The crowd looks at me slightly horrified, even in their inebriated state. "And what does it matter, anyway?" I bravely continue, my voice unnaturally high. "This man right here, he got you doing good. Us. We were doing good, and even if it didn't make a whole lot of sense most of the time it's more than we can say for ourselves. And now what? He makes one mistake and you dump him, just like that? And honestly, let's admit it, two months ago we did fuck all to change our lives for the better and because of this basketcase right here we were all standing by the old factory just a few days ago, bloody handing out food to homeless people on Christmas eve so why don't you just give him all a fucking break and . . . I don't know, just . . ." I trail off, finishing with a huff. "That's it. That's all I wanted to say."
An astonished silence meets the end of my speech, until from the back of the room Seamus starts a hesitating applause. He claps once, twice, but no one joins—so he quits.
I would probably stay up on that chair for a long time, if it isn't for the fact that Draco practically hauls me off immediately. I'm not even steady on my feet yet and he's already moving through the crowd, and it parts for him in quite a startling way, making his way to the door. I rush after him, pulling a fistful of the back of his shirt before he gets to disappear on me. He whips around, pushing my hand off furiously, and I want to say something—but everyone's watching us, and I don't think he'll appreciate the attention my comment will undoubtedly get us.
So I take his wrist, wanting to lead him somewhere else. He tries to pull his from my grip—but hold on tightly, or at least tight enough, and he reluctantly follows as I guide him to the narrow hallway where the bathroom is, and where the people in the living area can't see us. It's dark here but I can still see him seethe at me, but I don't let him go until I hear the voices from the party pick up their conversations once more. I am convinced I hear their indignant voices denying everything I just said, but it might as well be my imagination. They might just be excited, or just normally talking.
"What the hell did you do that for?" Draco spits, rubbing his wrist now.
"What d'you mean?" I ask, thinking he's talking about his hand.
"What do I mean?" he shouts in a whisper, even though no one would probably hear him by now even if he yelled. "That—on the chair, you idiot! What hell was that!"
"I—" I exhale through my nose, irked. "Everyone's unhappy!" I say. "I'm happy and everyone around me is miserable. I just wanted . . ." I slump against the wall behind me, "to fixit."
Draco gives a dry little laugh. "You didn't fix it," he says. "You just made it worse. Now they just think I've used you, Pillar of Society Potter, to somehow—to—"
A collective raising of voices drowns out whatever he has to say next. We're both confused for a second, and then—oh yes, we remember. It's new year's night and whether we like it or not, whether we're ready or not, the old year is twenty seconds away from its inevitable end and the new one is racing toward us at a phenomenal speed.
A frightening feeling of running out of time clenches my heart and instinctively I reach out to cup Draco's face. They're counting fifteen, fourteen, thirteen . . . He closes his eyes, turning a little into my touch, and I run my thumb over his cheekbone. The crowd shouts ten, I move forward and he takes a step back so I follow the path of my arm until all of me is closer to him. He leans back into the wall and I lean into him, tilting his face with a gentle nudge.
"Three," I whisper a hairsbreadth away. "Two. One."
I press a careful kiss to his lips, leaving enough room to wish him a, "Happy new—"
His mouth opens to swallow my words as his tongue slips past with a desperate little noise, and I kiss all my resolutions of being better and what it all means onto him. He can have it all, I think. And I can have him, and this way it will balance itself out. He seems to agree, eagerly sucking every idea I have about the definition good and bad right from the flat of my tongue. The crowd agrees just as valiantly, cheering and whooping in the far distance.
It's the new year, and already time is running circles around me. I have no idea how long we stand there, pressed together and latched at the mouth, and when I pull away—slightly dizzy—Draco turns his head toward the end of the hall as if hearing his name. I follow his gaze and realise that someone actually did call us.
"You guys coming?" Hermione asks, looking unfazed at finding us as we are. Behind her people are bristling past, walking out the door in their coats while loudly talking.
"Going where?" I ask, hoarsely.
"We're going to the park to watch the fireworks," she replies, half turning toward the door but keeping her eyes on us. "Coming, then?"
I glance at Draco with the silent question of, Y'wanna? So he gives me the universal shrug of, Sure.
Hermione offers us a small smile as we follow her out of the apartment and then out onto the streets. She says something to Draco, something quiet I don't catch, and he replies with a hesitating, shy smile of his own. Ron, walking ahead with another group of people, notices us and stops in his stride to join us instead. Hermione hooks her arm with his, resting her head on his shoulder.
Together we walk the grassy incline leading up to the park, the fireworks already flashing the sky with neon colours. At the top we all sit down, even though the grass is wet and the ground cold. Hermione perches herself between Ron's legs, leaning back, and I see it and I want it too so I think—Fuck it, and sit down behind Draco, pulling him close to my chest.
Ron sees it out of the corner of his eye, and gives me a quick look—perhaps a somewhat embarrassed one.
"Harry," he shouts over the deafening sound of explosions in the air.
"Yeah?" I shout in reply.
He smiles, laughing inaudibly and then asks, "You happy?"
"Sure," I decide. "Why not." And then, "You?"
He shrugs, leaning back on his hands. "What's happy, anyway?"
I can't find the words to tell Ron how right he is, how right this moment—this very, very moment—he has stumbled onto a truth so simple and honest that none of us has ever noticed it before. So instead I settle for mimicking his movement, leaning back as well and watching the lights reflect in the eyes of the people I love.