The worst kind of gut wrenching angst. Be warned.
It’s March and it’s been exactly 18 months and seven days since Voldemort met his end and the war is over. No more sleeping in rundown shacks, no more watching your drugged former classmates go to certain death on the battlefield with a peaceful smile on their faces. No more staying sober just because someone has to and no more fucking Ginny to try and stay sane.
You failed anyway.
No more blood and gore and you don’t kill on a daily base anymore. You don’t torture captives for information anymore and there’s no one left to lead. Except maybe Hermione, but she in denial, lost in her books and pretending that peace is what she wanted all along. Maybe she did. You don’t remember what it was that you wanted, because now that the war is over you feel mostly lost.
You enter the pub quietly, still sneaking past enemy lines that don’t exist anymore and choose a table at the back, so you can watch the door but still have your back to the wall. You’re so used to doing this that it’s almost instinct by now, not conscious thought.
You order something that burns as is slides down your throat, something that might offer oblivion, now that you can afford it and let your eyes wander over the other guests of this dark and gloomy establishment. You might be looking for someone to forget. Ron’s sightless eyes, Neville’s screams, Dean’s little muggle sister’s broken body, the blood on your hands and how it feels to take life away.
You might have gotten lost in that particular memory for a moment because the next thing you see is a black clad male chest, only a foot away from you. Your hand is on your wand before you know what you’re doing and you look up slowly, because you learned the hard way that looking into the faces of your victims (enemies) is never a good thing.
The shirt is expensive and the throat on top of it is pale and almost female. The chin that follows is too pointy and the mouth is curled into a cruel little smirk more out of habit than actual intent. Malfoy’s eyes still look the same, still gleam and shine with life when everything else is dead and oh so cold. His hair is long enough to stay tucked behind his ears until he cocks his head to the left and sneers at you.
“Now if this isn’t Saint Potter on the way down.”
Your hand eases away from the wand, because Draco may be worse than the plague, but he’s not deadly. Your lips twitch at that thought. Not deadly for you, but deadly?
You don’t know many people that can spy on their father three years and then kill him in cold blood and still manage to look morally superior while doing it. Only Malfoy. The Death Eater that never was, the spy, the murderer, the one who kills, killed as easily as you do. Past tense, you have to remind yourself of that all the time now. All past tense.
You shrug and point at the only other chair at the table, “Either sit down and get drunk with me or piss off, Malfoy.”
You speak without emotion, without any life in your voice, flat and dead. It’s the way you made your voice, yourself, to survive, to be able to give out orders for what added up to suicide missions. You scared a lot of people with that voice and it must still work, because Malfoy’s sneer loses some of its malice and he sits down. Or maybe your offer just shocked him a little.
Now, there’s a concept you sent west a long, long time ago. Saints in general do not kill anyone, except themselves and that’s not called suicide, that’s called martyrdom. That’s another idea you never understood, because to be a martyr you’d have to stop fighting and you never did that. You’ve been fighting all your life and sometimes when you watch Hermione read a book with ‘that bloody cat’ on her lap you think that maybe you still are.
Draco orders a drink and so do you and then you almost smile at the way he can make even getting pissed look sophisticated. It’s so….Malfoy. You open your mouth twice, just to close it again, before you manage to ask him what he’s doing here, in the middle of Muggle London. He shrugs and sneers and asks you the same question.
You look him straight in the eye and reply, “I’m here to get pissed enough to forget what it feels like to tear a human body to shreds.”
And then you watch his reaction, as if you were talking about the weather and not the big hush-hush word with three letters. W-A-R. It’s a dirty word nowadays.
His expression changes to something akin to…interest and somehow this pleases you. A lot. He nods, accepting your answer, your company, your insanity, whatever. Maybe he just agrees with you. You don’t know and you don’t care because silence is lonely, but Draco’s silence is a sound. Little more than white noise but less than the terrible small talk everyone wants to engage you in and so it’s alright. Draco’s silence is the best you had in a while.
You have five more drinks and he two and then you look at him again and you ask, “Do you ever miss it?”
You nod and then shake your head, because lies are for friends and loved ones and this is still Malfoy and he doesn’t deserve pretty lies. You won’t play sane for Malfoy’s sake. But you offer truth, because there always was truth between you. Ugly, raging, painful truth.
“The killing and blood and gore. The power over life and death.”
Again his expression flickers and this time you’re sure it’s something like respect. You think that maybe Malfoy has had a lot of lies too, lately. So you sit and wait and stare and are dimly aware that you’re getting too drunk for this, but you don’t care. Because someone is listening.
He stares at you for a long time, then looks down at the glass that’s constantly, endlessly rotating between his long pale fingers. Doesn’t matter. You have time now.
All you have is time now. And truth, at least for tonight.
You nod, wisely, drunkenly, like you expected nothing less and truth is you didn’t. You and Malfoy are too alike, always have been. It’s why you hated him so much once. You down another shot of fire and acid as he watches and when you put the glass back down he lets go of his own and leans back, stretching like a pale pale cat, studying your face.
“Fuck yeah.” You reply, with the pride of a five year old child. Which is funny, because you don’t think you’ve ever been a child.
“Eloquent, Potter, eloquent.”
You shrug and grin and say, “Mione scolds me every time I say ‘fuck’. She also scolds me when I try to talk about the war. She tries to forget it ever happened, I think.”
“They all do.”
It’s his turn to shrug and you’re both silent for a long time. It’s strange to get drunk, even to just sit here with your arch enemy turned reluctant ally turned whatever the hell you want to call it. He’s suddenly not Malfoy anymore, he’s just someone who’s haunted by the same ghosts as you are. Someone who is as tired of lying as you are.
It’s a quiet confession, that hangs over your heads like cigarette smoke, grey and stale, cold and deadly. It’s a slow creeping death and maybe worse than lung cancer. It’s also in that moment that you realize, that you’re not Potter anymore now than he is Malfoy.
He looks away from your face suddenly, digging through his expensive pants for cigarettes and a lighter. He offers you a smoke and you take it, silently.
Smoking is a quiet kind of suicide after a lifetime of loud and ugly ones. You’ll never forget the look on Katie Bells’ face as she blew herself up along with most of Azkaban and four dozen Dementors.
The two of you smoke in silence until you can feel the heat of your cigarette on the back of your fingers and when Draco speaks again his voice sounds deeper than before, deader.
“What was the worst thing? During the war?”
“Watching my people get high enough on a lethal cocktail of muggle and wizarding drugs to smile while they were torn to pieces and having to stay sober through it all.”
He nods and you look at him expectantly, because you know that he’ll answer his own question in time. It goes unsaid, tonight, somehow.
“I wouldn’t know. I was so high most of the time, I couldn’t have told Voldemort from a tree trunk. The worst thing…I think for me it was how used I got to killing. And when it all ended….”
When it all ended you were expected to be like any other 22 year old. You were expected to finally get your N.E.W.T.s and stop being a soldier. You were supposed to forget how many ways there are to bring ruin to the human body and mind. You wonder a lot if the others managed or if they are just better at hiding than you are.
“It was you, wasn’t it? During the second year of war, we found Pansy, her body and it was….”
You nod and you wait until Draco closes his eyes to answer what he already knows to be true. “She came to us, offering to spy for the Order, but we couldn’t be sure. She gave us what we needed and I did what I had to. People stopped treating me like… like one of them after that. I was the freak, the guy you better didn’t mess with. They never questioned my sanity again after Pansy.”
He chuckles quietly. At what you don’t know, maybe at the fact that your own people thought you were off you rocker, maybe that they were right, or at some memory of Parkinson during your school days. Before everything else.
Before. That always means during school or pre-school days. Because none of you ever finished school. None of you graduated. You either died or learned the hexes and curses you needed to survive on your own. Hermione still gets all worked up when someone reminds her of the fact that you never got to take your N.E.W.T.s.. Trust her to have looked forward to them.
You tell Draco this and his chuckle turns into a bitter grimace. “Don’t you get tired of it? During the war you were a bloody hero. Because you did what you had to and killed who you had to. During the war, you were good and suddenly it’s over and you’re not the hero anymore. You’re unstable. Insane. Broken. If the Ministry weren’t so bloody scared of what you’d do, they’d have locked you away in some dark cell long ago. Because you don’t fit that fucked up new and improved world of theirs. The one where nobody ever died and children weren’t given a wand and a suicide mission instead of breakfast.”
Oh, how you know that song. You’ve heard it a million times and it’s clear that so has Malfoy. Harry, stop talking about it like this. Are you insane? It’s over now!
Yes, you are insane and no, you don’t give a fucking damn and again, no, you don’t care what anybody else might think because this is you and you’re done anyway. So is Draco.
You throw back your new, and last drink and slowly, unsteadily you climb to your feet.
You shrug and clutch the edge of the table tightly, because you might just fall if you didn’t. “They’re closing.”
You use your free hand to point toward the bartender who is quietly cleaning glasses and throwing looks your way every few seconds. Draco nods and gets up beside you. He throws a wad of cash onto the table, that should cover your drinks and then some, before nodding toward the door. You notice with no little satisfaction that he too has some trouble walking in a straight line, but together you manage and soon the cold night air and far away sounds of London traffic hit you like a brick wall.
You lean against a dumpster and dig out one of your own cigarettes and offer Draco one. Then you inhale the acid mixture of smoke and smog and cold misty air and wait for your lungs to starts itching and your head to clear a little.
You silently smoke three cigarettes in a row before Draco turns his sour smile on you and asks, “You’re not eager for sleep, are you?”
He doesn’t ask again.
The bartender brings out the trash and locks the doors, eyeing you sceptically, before you finally both run out of smokes and you wonder aloud, “Which way do you live?”
He points right and you nod and wordlessly point left.
“This is goodbye then, huh?”
“You don’t say ‘huh’ Drake.”
“Pansy used to call me Drake.” He looks strange as he says it and so you nod.
“I know.” You take a step forward, but with out the dumpster to support you, you don’t look very steady, despite the nightly cold clearing your head. Draco eyes you up and down from his own spot against the post of a street light. Finally he sighs, “Fuck Potter, look at you.” And he walks over to you, no steadier than you are and puts your arm around his shoulders and you try not to notice how he fits perfectly against you side.
And then the two of you wordlessly start walking.
To the right.
Draco’s flat is small and neat, just like you expected it to be and that makes you wonder, because when did you imagine Draco Malfoy’s flat?
He locks the door from the inside and you can’t help but laugh at that. You can feel the magic protecting this place and you know for a fact that anyone trying to enter Draco’s home without an invitation is likely to leave it horizontally. You know because he never flinched on the way here when you started ranting about blood and pieces and twisted bodies.
Next he shoves you up against the door he just locked and kisses you, ashtray and booze breath and all and it’s a little desperate. The door to the bedroom is just a few feet away, but when you reach it, there aren’t many of your clothes left.
The two of you tumble onto the bed in a pile of limbs and pants and it’s dark and warm and nothing pretty but everything right.
It’s March and it’s been exactly 18 months and eight days since Voldemort met his end and the war is over. No more sleeping in rundown shacks, no more watching your drugged former classmates go to certain death on the battlefield with a peaceful smile on their faces. No more staying sober just because someone has to and you’re fucking Draco and you’re not even trying to pretend to be sane anymore.
Because the war is over and this is a quiet kind of suicide, too.