|Days of Denial
Author: IamtheLizardQueen PM
Just a short, sad, sweet, little ficlet. V.Mild Slash, HP/DM, Established relationship, no spoilers. Harry left Draco on a Monday. Draco knows when he'll come home.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Harry P. & Draco M. - Words: 2,645 - Reviews: 158 - Favs: 225 - Follows: 18 - Published: 07-15-03 - Status: Complete - id: 1431043
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: J.K. Rowling owns Harry Potter and everything else affiliated with him. I own a sizable student loan debt. Trust me, I'm not making any profit here.
I felt the need to write something a little sad, and this was the result. I think it's the shortest thing I've ever posted… hurray for me! Enjoy!
Harry left Draco on a Monday.
Draco knew that Harry was gone the moment he stepped over the threshold, almost as if the house felt abandoned and was trying to share its sense of loss. Draco closed the door behind him, and set his briefcase to the side as he always did. He hung his cloak on the waiting hook. He headed into the kitchen to fix himself a cup of tea.
Draco sat at the table drinking and contemplating. That morning, things had been different, Draco realized. Less tension, less pain, more quiet. He should have paid better attention, but instead he had been so relieved he had just let it be, without questioning the sudden change. Harry had kissed him at the door. A goodbye kiss had once been standard, but that morning it had been a surprise. A welcome one. Draco touched his fingers to his mouth as though he could still feel the soft lips against his.
After rinsing his cup in the sink, Draco began wandering around the house, making a mental inventory of the items Harry had taken. The suitcase from under the bed, some clothes, a few picture frames. Draco spent a moment in the bathroom, staring at his green toothbrush, thinking that it looked so strange all by itself in the holder.
Draco sat in the main room by the picture window where he had a perfect view of the walkway that led up to the front door. Monday. Work was always stressful on a Monday since the work that had piled up over the weekend would need to be sorted out. Harry always tried to be especially considerate to Draco on Mondays, and despite the fact that Harry and he had been arguing more often lately, Draco assumed that this part of their routine would not change. Harry would return any moment now, and he would coddle and mollify Draco's strained feelings.
It was late when Draco finally yawned, and decided to retire for the night. With some vague idea that something was missing, Draco investigated every single room in the house, before entering the bedroom. He curled into a ball on his side of the bed, and stared at nothing as he waited, still anticipating Harry's return.
It was Tuesday now. Harry would be back today.
Draco took a shower, and worried about the dark circles under his eyes, before heading to work. It wasn't too difficult to focus on his tasks, since he knew with absolute certainty that Harry would be home when he was finished work. Obviously, he had miscalculated yesterday, but his new theory was sound. Harry must have decided they needed some time to cool off, and had therefore spent the night somewhere else. But now they had been apart for long enough. Harry would be back that evening, and Draco hurried his steps the closer he got to home.
" Harry? Where are you?" There was no returning voice, and no sounds of life. The kitchen was empty, as were the rest of the rooms. Draco slumped into a kitchen chair, momentarily defeated.
He could remember when it had been different. When he would come home, and Harry would look up from whatever he was doing, and smile. They would begin the evening meal preparations while Draco would tell Harry all about his day. They would make plans for the weekend. They would talk.
Draco heated up some leftovers and ate alone, watching the shadows lengthen and disappear. For the second night in a row, he headed towards their bedroom, and tried to sleep. Despite the blankets, he felt cold.
Wednesday. When Draco woke up in the morning, he felt less energetic than usual, drained somehow, and he was almost late for work. He was slow to get started, and snapped irritably at those people foolish enough to attempt conversation with him. It was late in the afternoon when Draco came up with the appropriate answer. Of course Harry wouldn't come home on a Tuesday. Harry would have remembered that Draco often worked late on a Tuesday, so Harry might have thought it better to return when he was sure Draco would be there. There was little point in storming out, if there was nobody there to witness the dramatic return. All of this was speculation, of course, but the fact still remained.
Harry would be back tonight.
Draco began to whistle as he worked, and apologized to his colleagues for his bitter attitude of earlier. It was a Wednesday – Harry usually picked up Chinese food on a Wednesday. Draco could picture it already. Little, white boxes, strewn over the countertop; piles of food atop clean plates, steaming appetizingly. Harry would attempt to eat with chopsticks, and Draco would laugh. Harry would pout, until he too would grin and abandon the chopsticks and use his fingers. There would be music playing, and both of them would eat too much.
Draco left work early, a rarity in and of itself, eager to get home. The empty house that greeted him felt like a physical blow. His eyes burned and he wiped furiously at them. Maybe Harry was late? Draco sat outside on the front steps and waited. Day turned to dusk, dusk to twilight, twilight to night. Tired, cold, and hollow, Draco climbed the stairs to bed. Tomorrow would be better.
Thursday. Harry would return today.
It had taken a lot of searching, but Draco had finally comprehended that Harry would not be satisfied with leaving one or two days. No, when Harry wanted to make a point, he followed through with his actions. Three days, that's what Harry was waiting for. If he left Monday afternoon, then he would return Thursday afternoon. It all made sense, and Draco felt relieved.
At noon, Draco announced that he was going home. His fellow workers were surprised, one young woman teasing him about having a 'tall, dark, and handsome' motive. Draco smiled enigmatically, and left the building. He stopped at a small specialty wine shop, and bought a bottle of Harry's favourite vintage. At another store, he added to his purchases with some French bread, and a collection of cheeses.
They would stay in tonight, Draco decided. They would light the fire in the grate, and turn off all the other lights. They would arrange themselves on the floor, a soft blanket draped over their knees. Harry would drink his wine slowly, and his eyes would be partially closed with his curling eyelashes dark as shadow, soft as smoke against his skin. Harry would pull Draco close, and together they would watch the flames.
Harry wasn't home when Draco arrived, but Draco chilled the wine anyway, and arranged the cheeses attractively on a plate. It was still early. Harry couldn't know that Draco had left work early. Draco sat nervously in the armchair, picking at a loose thread. The phone rang, startling him out of his reverie, but he ignored the shrill noise. It soon stopped. The following silence was eerie.
Draco's stomach rumbled, but he ignored it. Harry should have come by now. It was well past the time Draco usually arrived home from work. That night, Draco took the wine to bed, and passed out before the bottle was empty.
In the morning, Draco awoke with a hangover. He stumbled into the shower, and rubbed at his clammy skin. His reflection in the fogged bathroom mirror was grimfaced, and sombre, but he forced himself to smile.
It was Friday, and Harry would be back tonight.
At the office, his secretary tentatively asked if Draco wanted to talk. When Draco tilted his head, and asked why he would want to do that, his secretary stammered that she had overheard from somewhere that he and Harry had broken-up.
" We haven't. Don't go spreading such ugly rumours," Draco snapped at her. His secretary blushed and apologized, before hurrying out of the room. It was preposterous. It was Friday. Harry might have needed some time alone to sort himself out, but Friday nights belonged to both of them. It was their time to be together.
With the whole weekend to look forward to, Harry and Draco often went out on Friday evenings. Sometimes it was to a show or a play, sometimes it was some society event that one or both of them was expected to attend. Sometimes they would go out to a fancy restaurant somewhere, and invite the friends they had in common. Sometimes they went to a dark and intimate club, where nobody knew or cared who they were, and they would dance, and touch, and let arousal build slow and steady.
Draco had to work a little later than he would have liked in order to catch up on his work, but he would still be home in plenty of time for whatever Harry had planned. Draco bought flowers from a street vendor that he passed, before he ran up the steps of his house. The flowers went into the rubbish bin at midnight when Harry still hadn't arrived.
Draco awoke stiff and sore on Saturday. He got up and relieved himself, before crawling back into bed. He cast a warming spell to ease the chills of an empty bed. He had forgotten to close the drapes – had forgotten every night that week because that was Harry's nightly routine, not his. The sun was bright, and yellow, and cheerful, and Draco turned his back on it.
On Saturday mornings, when they had first moved in together, Harry would bring them breakfast in bed. Nothing elaborate; usually just toast and honey, fruit and tea. The bed was always just the right temperature, the sheets always fresh smelling. It would take them forever to get out of bed, as they were always pulling the other back in with lingering kisses and lustful looks. Pink cheeked from their showers, they would dress casually, and, if the weather was decent, they would head-off to the open-air markets. The markets were always lively, and full of people. They would buy fresh pastries and eat them as they looked at the various wares on sale. Later, they would buy some produce, and Draco would delight in haggling for the best price. Harry would buy an eggplant, not because he liked the taste, but because he was so enamoured with the rich purple colour. Draco would roll his eyes at the waste of money, but secretly he would smile.
Draco lingered in the bed as usual, but not for the same reasons. He stayed because he had nowhere else to be. What had he done with his Saturdays before Harry? He couldn't remember.
Harry would return today.
Harry had nothing else to do with his Saturdays either, and all their fighting, which seemed so trivial now, would definitely be abandoned in favour of a lazy day spent shopping at the market. Draco got out of bed, showered and dressed, and went down into the kitchen to wait. He was going to make himself something to eat, but then decided that they would get something at the market, so he might as well be patient. Draco sat down at the window-seat with a book, and worried about some dark clouds on the horizon. It would be horrible if it rained. He hoped Harry wouldn't get wet on the way over.
Draco finished the book cover to cover. The clouds had dispersed, and the evening was clear and warm, perfect for a late-night stroll. Draco was trying to convince himself that Harry was still coming, but he was starting to run out of rationalizations. His insides felt quaky, as though he was on the verge of tears or a breakdown. Which was ridiculous, because Harry would be coming home soon. Draco pressed his face to the cool windowpanes, and watched the street outside, straining for a sight of Harry. He fell asleep, still waiting.
The following morning was cold, with the trees whipping angrily in the wind. Draco was hurt all over from sleeping in the unnatural position imposed by the window-seat. Not that it mattered.
He was starting to wonder if Harry was ever going to come home.
Draco was starving, and he went into the kitchen. It felt like he hadn't eaten in days, and looking into his cupboards, he realized that he probably hadn't. Harry had always done the serious grocery shopping. Harry had been home most days and going out for the necessities helped him fill his time, and he seemed to enjoy keeping house. They kept a grocery list near the telephone, and Harry always took it with him when he went out. Harry never let anything run out in their household, without having a replacement ready. Draco used to tease him obsessive tendencies.
Draco brewed some tea, but there was no milk. Draco sighed, and went to find his coat. He went to a nearby shop that sold a little bit of everything. He bought milk and bread, and a half-carton of eggs.
The house still echoed unpleasantly when he returned; his footsteps sounded loud even to himself. He set the small, brown paper bag on the kitchen table, and took out the contents. Draco placed the bread on the countertop, and set the eggs by the frying pan. Maybe he would feel up to cooking in a little while.
He closed his fist around the neck of the glass milk bottle, and it suddenly hit him that this was quite possibly the first bottle of milk he had ever purchased for himself. Harry always bought the milk; Harry always made sure there was enough for breakfast in the morning. Yet here he was, buying milk.
Harry was not coming home. Harry was never going to return.
All the justifications over the past week were helpless against the truth of a single bottle of milk. Draco started to tremble as the protective layer of denial was pulled away. As he grasped the totality of his loss, he felt dizzy and had to lean against the counter. The milk fell out of his nerveless fingers, and smashed against the floor. He stared at the shards of glass and small rivulets of milk for a moment, stunned, and then, inexplicably began to laugh.
Just as suddenly, the laughter gave way to dry, shaky sobs, and Draco slid to the floor, heedless of the debris. Hours went by with him sitting quietly, completely drained, with his arms around his knees. The milk spread across the floor, and some soaked into his clothes.
Footsteps crunched as they trod on the broken glass, and Draco lifted his head wearily.
Harry stood in front of him, looking at the pieces of glass around Draco with trepidation. He didn't say anything at first, just bent down to ascertain that Draco was unhurt. Examination completed to Harry's satisfaction, Draco let himself be pulled to his feet. A kiss started, gentle as a whisper. It was slow, and sweet, and perfect.
Afterwards, their eyes drifted open and they fell into each other's gazes. A hundred soundless apologies were said and accepted. The only words spoken aloud were Draco's, when he finally ventured to ask:
" What day is it Harry?"
" Uh, it's Sunday. Why?"
Draco replied unwaveringly; " I knew you'd come back today."