mildlunacy: (bam! harry time)
[personal profile] mildlunacy

This is the last time
That I will say these words
I remember the first time
The first of many lies
Sweep it into the corner
Or hide it under the bed
Say these things they go away
But they never do



~ Keane




4. BREATH

In the dark, the rain looked like tear tracks down Potter's cheek.

Draco didn't want to see him like this. What use was this now?

"Go home," he said softly, not looking at him. "Stop embarrassing yourself, Potter. I won't pity you."

Potter stood there silently for a long time, not answering. So did Draco.

"Neither did I," Potter said, just as quietly. "I never pitied you. I'm not here to ask you for anything."

"So why are you here?"

"What about you?"

Draco went for the next best subject. "Shagging would just feel queer now, I'd reckon. And we never did much besides shag. And argue."

"Yeah."

Another long pause.

"So how's life? Got that promotion, Potter?"

"I quit," Potter said in that same monotonous voice.

"What?"

"Well." A tiny smile lodged in his voice. "An enforced sabbatical. Not a huge chance I'll come back all dewy fresh, but everything's going to be fine if I pass the psych screening this December."

"Oh. Well, that's--"

"You don't have to pretend you care, Malfoy."

Draco smiled a bit at the echo of their earlier conversation. "You should never have let me do it, idiot. Your girlfriend, that is."

"Yeah."

"Christ, I need a fag." Potter offered one to him wordlessly, and Draco lit up, sighing. "Better."

"Want to have a drink?"

Draco gave Potter an incredulous look. "That old tactic again? Do you think alcohol solves everything?"

There was a pause, and then they both smirked.

"We don't have to talk," Potter said with his innocent face. "We just have to drink. And I'll respect you in the morning."

"Ugh. Just because I chose to tolerate you, you think it gives you leave to make bad jokes."

Potter's eyes crinkled behind his spectacles when he smiled. He looked older, suddenly. Draco cursed himself for a sucker even as the thought occurred to him. He rolled his eyes.

"I know a place," he said. "You better not make me unable to show my face there later."

Now Potter rolled his eyes. "I'll be on my best behavior," he said.

"That's what worries me," Draco grumbled.



It was anyone's guess how the two of them wound up sitting side by side on a bench facing the Thames past five in the morning, near-empty bottles between their knees.

"The sun will rise any minute now," Potter said slowly. Draco was already half asleep, but he refused to be just another bum dozing off on the streets. He also refused to get a hotel room. Obviously, he further refused to take Potter home. The question was, why were they together?

"Look, it's pink! Just like--" Draco gave him a Look, and Potter wisely reconsidered whatever unfortunate analogy to Draco's anatomy was forthcoming. "Just like a baby's arse!"

Draco shook his head with studied ruefulness. "You think you're crass and wicked, don't you," he said. "But you're just sort of… stupid."

Potter looked scandalized.

Draco smirked. "A little cute, though mostly stupid." Potter smirked back, and it was so like the expression he had as a wicked fifteen year-old Quidditch god, something in Draco gave a tiny, painful twist. He was ten thousand different kinds of twat, wanting to kiss him. Of course, this sort of thing had to be killed on contact, preferably with fire. "You know, the kind that ends up first against the wall."

Potter's smirk was unphased. "Good form!"

Draco looked away in disgust and leaned back against the bench, staring up into the fluffy pink clouds. Still mostly grey, of course, but increasingly rosy-colored, with baby blue around the edges. He exhaled, and fished in his pockets for more smokes. Ever the gentleman whenever it was least desired, Potter held out a light, and in spite of himself, Draco leaned forward.

"I have to admit," Potter said after a minute. "I'd have thought we'd fuck by now. That, or pass out. Or, I don't know, have a deep and meaningful chat about our souls or some shit. There's the sunrise, so I mean, the mood is right. We're certainly pissed enough. Don't you feel… disappointed?"

"Should I be?" Draco asked the clouds, quite philosophically. "My trust abused. My arse just used…."

"I didn't know about the trust part."

"There's lots you don't know about me, Potter."

"Like what?"

Draco thought about it. "I can make my own coffee! And… it's pretty good."

Potter groaned. "Is this the best we can do? I feel like a cheap smartass on a cheap date."

Draco blew smoke through his nose, and thought it blended quite well with the fog. "I wouldn't date you if you were the last bloke on earth without clams who wasn't severely retarded."

There was a pause. "So. You really like me, then."

Draco sighed and gave up. "Yeah, I used to, you tosser."

"Oh," Potter said, a bit faintly.

Thankfully, he shut up after that, letting Draco finish his smokes in peace.



Once Draco realized that Potter shut up since he'd passed out, the morning brightened, though he had the beginnings of a blinding headache. He hated not getting his eight hours nightly.

On the bright side, Potter looked more like your average London bum than the Golden Boy of Draco's fevered imaginings, and he spent a few moments taking stock. Only a few, of course. He needed a piss something fierce.

What do you know, he thought. An opportunity like this only comes along once in a lifetime. It was too bad that Draco was too good-natured and gently bred to leave him in his y-fronts, with cute drawings on his nipples and dried come on his face. It was tempting, of course. He couldn't resist a fake moustache. Yes, it was primary-school, but Draco felt a little too sorry for Potter to draw any spurting penises instead. Besides, he was an adult about these things.

When Potter woke up, he'd quickly discover he held a cardboard sign: "Help! Told my girl I'm a Golden Boy, and she kicked me out! Rub my belly for luck: 2p". The paper cup stood on the ground, and Draco left the first two pence to encourage business.

Sometimes, he thought, satisfaction comes cheap.

::

The back of his neck prickled, and on a hunch, Draco turned around. Naturally, Potter was only a few feet away, and though he was surrounded by people streaming by in both directions, he stood alone. For a moment, he remembered that first glimpse of the new boy at Assembly, the one who looked so plain with those patched-up spectacles and scruffy hair. Somehow, he'd stood out then same as now, as if there was an invisible hill to stand on, and an invisible wind to stand against.

Draco had known exactly what to say, then. Every word was serious and sincere: You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort.

Now, he didn't have anything to say, nor did he need to say it.

Potter nodded at him, but neither of them moved. The spotlight lingered on both of them, freezing the frame until the edges hurt. He's looking at me. He's really looking.

Potter stretched out a hand. He didn't smile, but Draco knew he was thinking of their second meeting too. He was wondering if Draco would return the gesture, and maybe he was even nervous and bluffing a bit, the way Draco did back then. He should refuse it: come full circle. Besides, he was too good for this kind of juvenile nostalgia these days. Wasn't it about bloody time to move on? How long was he going to keep playing the game by Potter's rules, anyway?

He couldn't look away from the uncertain look on Potter's face. The power he had, now that he didn't want it. Draco laughed out loud, and kept going in the opposite direction.

"YOU FUCKER! COME BACK!"

He laughed harder, until he had stop, as the tears prickled and his fellow hardworking Brits began to stare. Never. The game never ended, but the rules did change.

As he passed another mirrored shopfront, he turned and paused again. His face had an odd, twisted expression. Was this really him? Draco Malfoy, twenty-three years old, soon to be a student at Trinity, where no one would know who he or his father was, and no one would care.

If Draco closed his eyes, he could still see a blurry image of himself, receding in the distance.

What did Potter see, if anything? What was Potter looking for?

Did it matter?

He opened his eyes, smiling at himself and all the reflections of busy people walking by. There was a flash of movement at the edge of the mirror-- that same messy mop of black hair he remembered from twelve years ago-- soon lost in the crowd. Draco walked on, and his smile felt beautiful.
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the artist formerly known as lunacy

October 2012

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