Title: The Art and Practice of Absolute Pitch
Chapter Six: E is for Ecstasyi
When Harry opened his eyes he was lying on the floor of the bathroom, his body curled around the toilette and his head pillowed on his arm with absolutely no recollection as to how he had gotten there, only a vague indignation that Draco had not brought him into the bedroom which was overwhelmed a moment later when an attempt to move distracted him with a pounding head and aching body, and Harry directed his attention to a general feeling of loathing for the entire world for making him feel like this.
He stayed there for a quarter of an hour, before he managed to find the will to drag himself up, brush his teeth (his mouth tasted foul), wash his face (in an attempt to wake up) and unlock the bathroom door (which explained why he had spent a portion of the night on the floor, if he had locked Draco out of the room). As he stepped into the bedroom, Harry could hear his lover's voice speaking low in the other room, but despite the hushed tones, it was easy for Harry to pick-out the angry tone. Harry wondered who Draco was berating and why. He had only vague memories of the night before, and nothing solid enough to explain what had his lover up in arms.
"Morning," Blaise greeted, interrupting Draco mid-rant, and speaking just a little too loudly for Harry's comfort. Harry hovered in the doorway for a moment, blearily rubbing at one eye, wondering why the world was blurry before he realized he had not bothered to pick-up his glasses from the nightstand as he had passed, and obviously had not put in his contacts. He decided it didn't matter, Harry didn't want to see the world at that moment anyway.
He managed two half-hearted steps into the main room before Draco had swooped down on him, popped a ginger root pill into his palm and stuffed a glass of water into the other, and then looked at him in that way that reminded Harry of Molly Weasley, Ron's mother, or even Sirius at times; he didn't say anything, though, he was far too happy to have something to ease his roiling stomach. "How are you feeling?" Seamus asked from where he sat at the kitchen table, and his question earned him a dark glare.
"What are you doing here?" Harry asked, which, upon reflection, might have been a bit rude, but he was suffering a bad hangover, worse than he normally had, and it wasn't often that Seamus, Dean and Blaise all stayed over.
"Erm," Seamus answered intelligently.
"You don't remember?" Dean asked with a frown.
"God, do you have a fever? Do you know the day?" Draco asked as he pressed his palm to Harry's forehead, and then turned to look at Blaise. "Maybe we should take him to the hospital."
"What?" Harry asked. "I'm fine," he said. "God, shut up. Everyone stop talking so fast." He rubbed at his head, and went willingly into Draco's arms when the blond pulled him close to his chest.
"Sorry," Draco whispered sweetly into his ear. "I'm just worried, is all. Are you sure you're all right? We weren't sure if the drugs would have ill-effects on your system."
Harry let that sink-in for a moment. "The what?"
"Someone put something in your drink last night, don't you remember?" Seamus asked.
"Clearly not," Harry muttered. "What was it? Am I okay?" he questioned.
"Shh," Draco soothed, rubbing circles into his back. "You should be fine. We were just worrying."
"Here," Dean said, and held out a piece of toast, freshly plucked from the toaster and buttered. The sight of it made Harry's stomach roil, but years of having Ron or Blaise, and Draco insisting food in the stomach would ease his queasiness had taught him to at least manage a nibble; just as years of dealing with Harry's hangovers had taught his friends that he only ever would consider a piece of toast and nothing more, no matter how they urged him to eat.
"I need to sit down," Harry said, and looked at Draco oddly as his lover fussed and manoeuvred him to the couch, and then proceeded to fluff pillows and attempt to shift Harry into a lying position. "What are you doing?" Harry inquired, when Draco seemed to be looking for something else he could do for Harry.
"I called Finn, told him you wouldn't be in today or tomorrow," Draco said, stuffing his hands in his pockets, and then, after glancing around the room, removing his hands from his pockets, sitting down beside Harry and moving his hands to rest on Harry's leg.
"Why not tomorrow? I should be fine by then." He sipped at the glass of water, and managed an amused smile when Blaise came over and refilled his mug, and set a plate of toast on the coffee table before him.
"You have to take it easy, Harry," Draco said, in such a tone that Harry felt his patience run thing. Hadn't he got through all of this already?
Apparently Blaise had read his mind before he cleared his throat, and gestured towards the door when he caught their attention. "We'll head out, now. Give a call if you need us," Blaise said, and smiled a bit tensely.
"I'll talk with you later," Draco said, and Harry was surprised at the tone of his lover's voice. Still, he waved as his friends shuffled out, and rested his head on Draco's shoulder, wanting to crawl into a nice dark hole and never ever emerge again.
"What did they do?" he managed to ask, though he wasn't quite interested in the answer. Still, Harry hated turmoil within his circle of friends, and hated it even more when Draco was involved in the turmoil; he enjoyed having his lover as a dependable and steady ally in whatever dramas happened in their circle.
"It's they're fault that bastard even had a chance to drug you," Draco snarled.
"Fuck off, Draco," Harry huffed, amused by his lover's antics and half-annoyed. "They're not my babysitters, I certainly don't need any."
"I know that," Draco answered honestly and kissed the top of Harry's hair, wrapping his arms a little tighter around his lover. "But friends watch out for each other."
"But they couldn't have stopped it," Harry said, a fleeting memory of Blaise's lips pressed to his own, and the looming man breathing down his neck, pressing close behind him. Harry shivered and fought the urge to shift out of Draco's embrace. He was used to dealing with these things, remnants of his high school days when he really had been a victim, but not this time. Sure, the man had slipped something in his drink, but Harry's friends had been there, had watched him, even if they couldn't do anything about the blood racing through his body. And in the end, they had brought him home, and they had stayed with him. Harry didn't think there was anything more he could have asked for from them, and he told Draco as much.
"I'm sorry," Draco said. "I just want someone to blame, because I hate feeling like you're in trouble and there's nothing I can do for you."
Harry lifted his head from where he had burrowed into the blonde's soft sweater and smiled. "You've gotten quite good at this sharing thing," he said, and kissed Draco's nose. Draco sighed and petted Harry's hair, and Harry fell asleep.
It would have been one thing if life after the incident at the club had continued exactly as it had before; but they didn't. Harry could understand the incident would make his friends, and particularly his lover, a little more aware of him and protective. Harry would admit that even still, one week after the drugging at the club, he still had flashbacks to another time when someone had made unwanted attempts on him. He forced himself to go out with friends in crowded places though his instinct was insisting he would be happier hiding at the flat. So he could understand that his friends, who knew what had happened to him before, and how this incident might affect him, would be a bit more protective of him. He could not, however, make excuses for Draco's behaviour.
Originally, he had thought it was very considerate of his lover to look after him the way he was. Draco would drive him to and from work, they were practically inseparable unless Harry was at the studio, and sometimes Draco would pop in and wait while Harry taped. Harry soon realized, however, that Draco was going a bit far. When Harry decided to go out with Finn and some of the recording team, Draco had tried to dissuade Harry from going, and then he had tried to go along with Harry even though he had a prior arrangement with Hermione. As it was, he had ended-up dragging Hermione to the pub Harry and his friends had gone to, and spent the evening glaring daggers at anyone who dared to breath near Harry let alone look at him, with an arm firmly encircling Harry's shoulders. He watched Harry like a hawk, no matter what he was doing, and quizzed him whereabouts and plans when Harry managed to slip away from him.
"I love the man dearly, but he's got to cope with the fact that things happen and you can't stop it, and can't prevent it – you just have to deal with it," Harry finished and Finn shook his head.
"It sounds like he's just worried about you. But you're right, he's taking it to an extreme. Have you spoken with him about it at all?" Finn asked.
"He insists he's not doing anything. I tried to tell him that phone calls every hour to make certain I'm still alive and unharmed are excessive, but he just started making up ridiculous excuses about why he was calling. I'm surprised he hasn't rung to ask where I'd moved the piano!"
"Did you do some redecorating? Where did you move that lovely piano to?"
"I haven' moved it, but that's how ridiculous some of his excuses are. And I know I have to sit down with him and really talk it otut, but god, can't it wait? I'm busy enough with this stupid re-recording and dealing with my own reactions to what happened. I really don't have it in me to talk to my raving boyfriend about the psychotic tendencies he's developed of late." Harry's cell rang and, with a sigh, he answered it. "Hello? Oh, hi Draco – no I'm just talking with Finn. We're on break but we should be heading back in in just a moment. – What? No, I don't know where your mother's suede gloves are, has she misplaced them? – Oh, yes I can imagine that she might need them if she – no, I'm fine. Why, do I sound off? – Oh, no the recording is going well so far. – I love you too, but listen; I've got to head back. – I know. Thanks, and I'll meet you at seven." Harry hung up his phone and stared at it.
"I suggest you find it in yourself to address this sooner rather than later, it's only going to get worse if you leave it unchecked," Finn said, throwing an arm about Harry's shoulders. Harry groaned and buried his head against the soft fabric of Finn's shirt causing Finn to let out a bark of laughter.
As it turned out, Harry made several attempts to speak with his lover, and each time they agreed to do something a little differently, and while Draco would uphold his part of the bargain, it didn't put a stop to his behaviour completely, and Harry would again had to redress the situation, and again a new tactic was decided on, which still wouldn't solve the problem of Draco's ridiculous fussing. And it just kept on that way until Harry felt as if he had only one option left.
"What are you doing?" Draco asked worriedly as he went into the bedroom to find Harry stuffing some clothes and his wash-kit into a backpack. Harry's movements were jerky, and Draco could plainly tell his lover was holding back tears.
"I can't do this," Harry said in a tone that sounded so desperate and defeated that it broke Draco's heart into pieces. "I can't. I'm so sorry," and then he stopped, rubbed his eyes and shook his head emphatically. "Things don't work like this. They can't possibly work like this. I'm not a child, though god knows I've put up with everyone treating me like their younger brother, or Sirius fussing. But that was fine, you know?" He'd stopped shoving things into his bag and zipped it up roughly, and Draco's mind was desperately running over possible responses to keep his lover with him. "It was fine, because with the others, there was always this, I don't know – this understanding that they could worry about me but in the end, I could take care of myself. And Sirius – I made excuses for Sirius because I'm all he has left and I know how hard that is for him, because it's the same for me. We're the only real blood ties for each other, and I catch myself sometimes trying to hold on to him. But even with him – I tossed him out of the apartment. I tossed him out because – because I'm not a child, and I don't need to be treated that way. I thought you'd understood that. Back when – back when things were beginning between us, I thought you understood that I wasn't … broken … after what had happened, that I was still all right." Harry's voice had cracked as he spoke the last sentence, and Draco wanted so badly to go to him, wanted so badly to hold his lover close because he knew that what had happened back then still hurt Harry, even if he had survived it all.
"Harry," Draco said, because as much as he wanted to, he couldn't go to his lover.
Harry wasn't going to listen to him, though. Instead, Harry turned and faced Draco directly, a determined look in his eyes. "Tell me, Draco. Tell me that you understand that. Tell me that you trust me to look after myself and make my own decisions and live my own life. Tell me –" his voice hitched a moment. "Tell me anything," Harry finished in an almost whisper.
Draco was frozen. He wanted to yell out that of course he knew Harry could look after himself. He wanted to say that he was sorry, because he was. Wanted to admit he'd acted irrationally; but all of that stuck in his throat, choked by fear and desperation. Fear, because he'd never realized the extent to which Harry had integrated himself in his life before. Fear because, after everything they'd been through, Draco was only now realizing just how much Harry meant to him, how everything in his world was Harry; and if that was ever taken away … Draco had lasted so many years with his lover because they'd always maintained a casual balance. He'd always known they'd loved each other deeply, but it was easy to think that when things were going well. They're lives had run so smoothly, together and apart, they'd managed to make it all work so seamlessly, that Draco had never had to contemplate the other possibilities. But the car accident, and Harry's collapse, and then the incident at the club – it all came down on him, how very much Harry meant, and Draco didn't want to let that go. He was desperate not to let Harry go.
But his very silence was all it took.
Harry swallowed thickly and turned to the bed. He shouldered his backpack and didn't meet Draco's eyes again as he left their apartment.
It was raining outside. Thick droplets of rain that had soaked through his coat within moments of his exiting the building, but Harry didn't care. He thought he might be crying, but he wasn't sure. He felt very cold, and tugged his coat tighter around himself. He'd forgotten Susser and Little Mischief in the apartment – he'd been too preoccupied to think to take them, and now he couldn't stand the thought of turning back to get them.
He kept walking. He'd left his keys in the apartment, but he didn't feel like driving. The rain, however cold, felt good against his heated skin; fitted his mood. He kept wishing it would cleanse him of his hurt and anger and the hopeless, stabbing, futile, agonizing, blistering bitch of a thing called 'love' that had brought him to this point. Because he loved Draco, and that was the difficulty now. Because he wanted so badly to go back and forget it all, anything it would take to just go back to the way they were. But that wasn't an option, because Harry knew now, knew that Draco didn't trust him, didn't respect him, didn't think he could look after himself. Whatever love they shared after this would be contaminated with that knowledge, that whatever decision Harry made, Draco was simply humouring him – was patronizing him. It wasn't a partnership, which was how Harry had always thought of their relationship. A partnership required trust, required that both of the pair knew the other's capabilities and their weaknesses and could depend on their strength when they needed it. But Draco's silence in the apartment meant that Draco didn't see strength at all when he saw Harry.
He sniffled and adjusted the straps of his bag, tilting his head back and closing his eyes a moment, before he continued on his way.
Draco was suddenly and surprisingly set free of the spell he'd been under with the jarring realization that Harry had left. He'd walked out – and he'd gone thinking that Draco saw him as a weak thing to be cosseted and cared for. Breath returned and Draco gasped it in as he sprinted from the apartment, forgetting to close the door and pelted down the stairs – forgetting all about the lift.
He raced passed Dobby, though he thought he saw in his peripheral vision, the older man opening his mouth to speak. He burst out into the street and into the rain, and desperately searched the sidewalks for any sign of Harry. It was a relief to Draco, at that moment, that their building was located on such a small side-street. People rarely cluttered the sidewalks, so spotting Harry was made simple. He took off again, following the bowed figure of his lover, already thoroughly soaked through and heading in the direction of the main street where he no doubt intended to take the underground to Ron's.
Draco weaved through the few pedestrians on the street and finally caught up to the hunched figure, and shouted Harry's name, watching with desperation as Harry stopped and slowly turned but didn't quite meet his eyes directly. "I don't need you," Draco spoke and watched as Harry flinched at the words. For a moment, Draco didn't understand why, but then realized the natural interpretation of what he'd said. "Wait, that's not – I mean. You don't need me. And I don't need you, and I always thought – that was part of our strength. We weren't dependent on each other. We're not – we have our own lives and their wonderful – but then." And Draco stopped to lick his lips, to take in oxygen and search for words. "But then when we're together – we're something more. You know? We become something – I don't know – something more."
He risked a glance up at Harry, and was relieved to see green eyes looking back at him. Draco felt encouraged and licked his lips again. "So it makes what you asked me completely stupid. Because of course I understand all that! How could you even think that I don't!" He didn't give Harry the opportunity to respond, though the dark-haired man was opening his mouth to do exactly that. "If I thought of you as anything less than I wouldn't have been carrying this around waiting for an opportunity to give it to you!" And Draco thrust the ring-box at Harry who accepted it only out of instinct.
He watched, his heart in his throat, as Harry opened the box and stared down at the ring it contained. They were soaking wet, and Harry's hair was dripping rain onto the shining surface, making the ring glow in the light from the streetlight. He waited still more, as Harry seemed to grapple with a range of emotions, until he finally settled on one. "Are you asking to marry me?" Harry asked, his voice sounding oddly choked and Draco nearly missed it over the sound of the rain.
"Yes," he affirmed.
They were silent a moment more, Harry staring at the ring, Draco staring and Harry staring at the ring. Until, after what seemed an age, the box closed with a loud sound that was followed, not a moment later, by Harry's whispered words, "You bastard."
It was not the reaction Draco had been expecting to hear upon presenting the ring to his lover, and he was stunned for a moment before he managed to find his voice. "What?"
"You bastard!" And the ring-box pelted Draco, who scrambled to catch it before it hit the ground. "You can't bribe me! That's pathetic! You had me thinking for a moment … thinking that … fuck, you're a bastard!"
"I've had it for almost a fucking year!" Draco defended.
"And you choose now to give it to me!" Harry snapped. He paced for a moment, and Draco watched him, trying to figure-out when their lives had taken such a drastic turn. "I told you," Harry said, running his hands through his hair. "I told you not to bribe me into forgiving you when you fuck up!" And didn't Draco remember that, all those years ago, when he had ruined Valentine's Day.
"I'm not bribing you," Draco said honestly. "I was trying to show you that I take you seriously. That I know what you are and love you because of it and despite it, and that I want you because without even consciously trying to do anything, you make me a better person! And I love you! And I'm fucking sorry if I'm not making much sense right now because I'm terrified you're going to leave and I'd understand it if you did, but god I want you to stay –" he didn't get any further because his rambling was cut abruptly short when Harry's hand gripped the front of his shirt in a tight first, yank him forward and unceremoniously locked their lips together.
Draco was swallowed in an angry, desperate, helpless, pleading kiss and just when he was relaxing against his lover, Harry pushed him back roughly. "You can't say shit like that when I'm angry!" Harry insisted, his cheeks rose-hued and his eyes blazing. "You can't make me love you when I'm trying to hate you!"
"Then don't try to hate me," Draco said before he could sensor the words. He had a brief moment to wonder if that were the right thing to say, but then Harry let out a bark of laughter and shook his head and seemed to accept it. Feeling braver now that Harry seemed to have calmed, Draco took another risk. "I'm sorry for the way I treated you, I was freaking out, and yes, I understand that we should have talked about it. I'm sorry. But god, Harry, come inside before you catch a cold. Don't leave." He was relieved when Harry accepted the hand he held out, and after a tentative tug, they walked back towards their flat, hands held, both soaked through and lost in thought.
Just outside of their building, Draco realized Harry had stopped walking when his hand tugged backward. He turned to face his lover with a look of concern, thoughts racing through his head of Harry having changed his mind. Instead, Harry chewed on his lip and glanced away, before lifting his downcast eyes tentatively up to meet Draco's. "May I have it back, please?" he said, sounding hesitant and unsure. It took a moment for Draco to realize to what he was referring, but when he did he took the box from where he had hastily stuffed it in his pocket.
Harry dropped Draco's hand to accept the box and raised the lid to peer at the ring that it contained. "Do you," Draco tried, and then had to stop in order to clear his voice. "Do you want me to put it on you?" It seemed too much to hope for, but once again green eyes lifted to meet grey, and Harry uttered the one word that would change Draco's world forever.
End Chapter Six:
i Warning: minor drug use occurs in this chapter. Also, I would like to make it clear that, as someone who has never done drugs, I have no idea what the effects of being high or whatever are like, nor whether it is plausible for certain drugs to be mixed into certain drinks. Yeah, I'm an idiot, so sue me, but don't flame me because I'm trying, I really am, but I'm not going to go out and get high or whatever just so I can write a plausible scene – sorry to disappoint. -