Authors Notice: Its kind of sad and it isn't happy because you know how life goes… I love it anyway. I sort of imagine later on in life Draco pushing scrabble letters through a letter box spelling out 'IM SORRY' however that might be just me and you'll have to read on to get it. I hope you like it and you'll find its an odd place to leave it at and maybe one day I'll write a proper ending to it but at the moment its just how it is. And it works. ;)
There's that café by the sea where they always used to sit--at the table at the back, next to the window—haven't you seen them? He always eats a muffin and sits up straight just like his father and watches silently as the other boy plays with the sugar packets. The brown ones.
There's sand in their shoes and they watch the kids on their roller blades go by and back again and the Brazilian waitress takes their order and she'll give them a smile. But its been a long time since then and she's probably a mother now, but they're back where they started.
Harry's back at the table with his head bent low and why the hell should he care that Draco isn't there? In the middle of the table is the holder with the sugar and the ketchup and the salt; like there always is.
In front of Harry is a muffin. He hadn't meant to buy it but he'd never given a thought of what he was saying and even if he was rusty from ordering, it was an old force of habit. Like the door opening and closing like a thousand times before. But this time that witch who aced every test she had in her seventh year and cried because Ron never ever said he loved her stepped in. Hermione Granger stepped in.
And when she spoke that voice had grown up but hadn't changed. Harry turned around sharply with wide green eyes. "Three cokes, a coffee and a packet of salt and vinegar crisps, please," she said pleasantly once the short queue before her had been dealt with.
And perhaps she wouldn't have noticed him if he hadn't been gawping at her like a fish out of water. Its not often people look over at the table at the back, next to the window--because that's the way it was supposed to be. She'd just taken her change and the tray was in her hands and the cokes and the coffee and the crisps were on that, and no one ever missed a lad with eyes as green as that.
It was almost a question and halfway to being an accusation. And then he didn't know what to do. Part of him had thought she wouldn't have recognised him, and he knew that was too hopeful because complete strangers always used to and another part had wanted her to see him. It dared her to. And she had.
And she'd dropped her tray.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" said Hermione in distress and dropped to her knees to stop any more coke spread across the floor.
The cheery waitress assured her it was okay and not to worry they'd get a cloth and it would all be cleaned up.
And there was his chance and there it went. He could have run for it but where would he go? So instead he sat there and he bet he looked really foolish just staring and not helping.
Hermione's eyes would flicker upwards so perhaps she'd seen Harry's eyes dart towards the door and when the waitress shooed her off she walked slowly over. The women sat down and surveyed Harry. He was looking thinner than ever, she noted. Taller though. He'd never particularly liked chocolate muffins but it had been a long time… and apart from that he hadn't changed.
"Hi Harry," she said softly. "Long time no see."
He said, "Hi."
There was an awkward pause. Harry felt inclined to speak. "You look nice." She'd put on weight. There were lines on her face.
So suddenly tears brimmed in her eyes. "Harry where have you been? We've missed you!"
"Us, Harry! Ron and I! Mrs. Weasley! All of us! But you haven't been that easy to find!"
The whole café was becoming aware of Hermione's distress, and the animated hand gestures weren't helping.
Harry shot back, "Did you try?"
Harry picked up a sugar packet. Guilt, you see. He'd known where they were all the time. For four years it had driven him crazy wondering why they'd never come looking.
"You can't have tried very hard."
"Oh, you can be so pig headed sometimes, Harry James Potter! It was more your fault we lost touch anyway! How do you think it made us feel? You knew we were alive! You knew how to find us—but you didn't! I know there are a lot of Weasley's in the phone book, but we're all related! And, if my memory serves me correctly, you were the one who upped and left! No note! Nothing! On Ron and my wedding day no less!" Hermione stole a deep breath. "It took me a long time to forgive you for that stunt! I'm not even sure I'm over it. I know you hold the title of twice saviour of the wizarding world, but how could you? Whatever possessed you to?"
Harry grimaced. "I didn't mean to…"
"I did mean to come!"
"Well then, please tell me what was so important that you had to miss my big day?"
Uh… Try Lucius Malfoy's funeral, perhaps.
Originally, Harry wasn't going to go. And when he had said the idea out loud, well, Draco had laughed in his face. Apparently the former Slytherin had thought attending the funeral of the man you killed was ever so funny! Harry said sleeping with the son of the guy he had killed son was even funnier. Draco said no more.
It just so happened that it was on Ron and Hermione's wedding day. When thinking of the events to come, he couldn't have said he was expecting to have the greatest time giving fake smiles and pretending to laugh at the jokes about going on Ron and Hermione's honeymoon with them. A funeral was by far more appealing. The time when Ron and Hermione were getting married was just before they knew for sure the Dark Lord would not rise again. Many funerals were being carried out and so many clashing it was hard to know which dead you were burying. The whole ordeal was upsetting.
Although attending Lucius Malfoy's funeral was just a formality for Draco, it was a chance to say good bye to old wounds for Harry and start a fresh. It helped only a bit.
While Harry stared through Hermione in his reverie of that wet day where not even Narcissa had turned up, and how Draco had spat at the foot of the headstone and had only held back from dancing on Lucius grave because of Harry's very embarrassed pleading, Hermione's curiosity of what Harry had done with is life increased. But then Harry had always been quite a mystery to her. Her annoyance was forgotten and she just wanted to know all about her friend she possibly could.
"Do you want to know why I dropped the tray when I saw you, Harry?"
"I forgot to comb my hair?"
"No, your hair always looks like that." She couldn't stop a smile. If Harry was starting to joke maybe his wall would brake. But then again, maybe she was reading too much into things. "We thought you were dead."
He toyed with the sugar packet thoughtfully for a moment. "Why are you here?"
"I promised the kids a day at the beach," she said, deciding to take the conversation elsewhere. "This place is a bit out of the way--we've moved back in with Molly--but to be honest, the beaches around St. Catchpole are dirtier than those PlayWizard magazines. "
The restaurant was becoming slowly emptier. The sun was really shining today and through the wide expanse of glass you could just make out Brownsea island off in the distance and Old Harry rock. They'd taken a small ferry there, and Draco hadn't made such a fuss boarding since Harry'd taken him to a muggle carnival. All through the boat journey Draco had had his wand at the ready.
That hollow feeling was starting to grow.
"Are you happy?"
"What sort of question is that?" The tone of her reply answered the question. She sighed because she hadn't meant to sound quite so defensive. The lines were showing on her face and she was only twenty two. She was a girl who got married too early. And it showed.
"Oh Harry." The sadness was emphasized on her face. "I guess you picked up on Ron not being here with me…" He hadn't. "Truth be told, he's been going out more and more and I don't know where. Parvati Patil told me she'd seen him in town with a girl on his arm… but she passed out afterwards. She said in the morning she was too drunk to remember properly and it just might have been Fred. Although," her voice quivered, "that's not so great either, because he's married too."
Harry was afraid she was going to cry. He'd never been good with crying women. Especially Cho Chang. In fact that experience had probably been what scarred him.
"Harry, I think he's realising what he's missed by getting married so early. I'm losing him. I thought… well, it doesn't matter what I thought, does it? Are you married?"
He grinned wryly. "No, and I think you've put me off it for life."
"Eurgh." Hermione put her face in her hands. "I'm sure it isn't all down hill… I see you've done away with your glasses."
"Yeah, Dray--" --co didn't like them. A heavy feeling settled in his stomach. Hermione would understand… wouldn't she? "--Change is good."
"Yeah it is." Hermione over looked Harry's falter. She knew they weren't close enough anymore for him to tell her anything. She guessed the reason he stopped was because he was keeping something to himself. "You're tastes have changed too. I remember the Weasley twins offered you one… a muffin. The rest of us lost the use of our thumbs for a week."
She realised bringing up memories from the past made Harry uncomfortable.
"Yeah," he said. It was only because they'd run into Draco that day and they'd been thrown out of Quality Quidditch Supplies for fighting and Ron tried to open the door handle… but couldn't. Nothing had been going on then, but they'd managed to knock down several broom displays and a cardboard cut-out of Viktor Krum.
"Anyway," said Hermione quickly. "What have you been up to? And don't say 'nothing' because you've had five years to do something."
"I don't know, really," said Harry honestly. Between braking up with Draco, making up and doing whatever they wanted to do, there'd never been much time for anything else.
Sometimes they'd go out--to muggle bars, of course, and get piss drunk and sleep until noon. Otherwise they'd stay in and watch tele--something Draco had become addicted to over the years and had taken apart more than once. (Each time requiring them to buy a new set afterwards.)
Board games were good, too. If either of them were too shattered from the night before they'd drink coffee and play the night away. Draco was supreme champion at Scrabble, and always forced Harry to play because it was fun watching the former Gryffindor fail abysmally.
"How can you not know? Are you with somebody at the moment?"
Harry said, "No."
It was the truth. Harry and Draco argued a lot. And some people say that its not a healthy relationship and if you love someone you know it and every day is like on cloud nine… But getting piss drunk isn't healthy and neither is love. "It's just lust."
Then it must have been a hell of a lot of lust.
"You have to help me here, Harry. This conversation feels really one sided. Not to be harsh but a rock would have better conversation skills than you. We haven't seen each other for five years but your still my best friend. Now, I gather you didn't come to this café to eat," she nodded to the untouched muffin. "Or to admire the waitresses. If you were meeting someone here, they've stood you up. Tell me why you're here, and if the story starts from when you were a baby, the kids are probably drowning right this instant… so I have all the time in the world."
And he did. He told her stories of two boys and what they shared and did… and didn't do. He recounted happy memories and sad ones and left gaps in time that Hermione's imagination could fill for her self. Harry poured his heart out about missing them and everything and how nothing was like it used to but with Draco he never wanted it to go back.
It pleased her to see how happy Harry was when he lost himself completely in a memory. However it saddened her when he knew he'd never be happy again. "You can't say that for sure, you know."
Of course he could. Everything always ends in tears. They said it would. Oh, they were great at throwing parties and getting anything you wanted off the black market but they didn't know much, not really.
"They scheme and they kill but their loyal, you know? Just because the sorting hat ran out of rhymes for 'loyalty' after it got past Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw doesn't mean its not true. Hermione, for six years they were my family."
More than you'd been.
Hermione read his thoughts on his face and tears burned her eyes. Both their worlds were falling apart and all they needed to do was watch. She said in a voice higher than usual, "Harry that's not fair! You don't know what it was like… July 31st… driving the streets in that old Ford Anglia, seeing balloon's everywhere and having this awful feeling, just wondering… wondering whether they weren't just up in your memory—and maybe…! Maybe they'd been put up by your hand. It was a false hope, I know that--twenty, twenty one… twenty one and still putting up balloons… but it was all we had."
That's all very dramatic, he thought frostily, overcome by a wave of coldness towards her. Draco used any reason to celebrate and play loud music--Harry put it down to his upbringing of formal dinners and unemotional cocktail parties--and their house was always decorated with balloons and streamers and alcohol and rubbish. Everywhere. And Harry used to love it.