AND SO LIFE GOES ON
part of "The Aevum Series"
by Nenya Entwhistle
Thanks to my wonderful betas: Ziasudra and Lesameschelle for everything they've done.
Story Note: This was written to be a "thinking" almost literary type fanfic, but here's a clue so you don't think it's just bad writing b/c everything is deliberate. Past tense is for past scenes, and present tense is for present scenes. Also, they tend to alternate.
It's Friday Again
The alarm clock rings. He wakes up and grabs his glasses, looks at the calendar and notes that it's Friday again. Every Friday is a little different, but a little similar. He wonders if it is going to be a slow, chatty type of Friday or if it is going to be more of the hectic, do everything kind of Friday. Either way, he knows that when he gets off from work, he will go to meet his pals at the usual place. It is always Ron's house at 5:30 sharp unless he wants to be at the end of Hermione's badgering.
He kicks his covers off, rolls out of bed, and stumbles over to the loo. He shucks his pajama bottoms and takes his half-hard cock into his hand. He strokes and thinks that it won't take long to wank, but he really doesn't have the time. He vaguely recalls pushing the snooze button more than once, and he knows he's probably running rather late. He sighs and takes a morning piss instead.
A hot shower, he thinks, is just the thing to wake him up. He takes off his shirt and tosses it to the ground. Hopping into the shower, he yelps when cold, then lukewarm, then finally warm water from the showerhead sprays his skin. He washes his hair and lathers his body up with soap. He rests his forehead against the cool tile and allows the water to wash his body off for him. He closes his eyes and thinks he'd really like to go back to sleep.
He slips, and his green eyes snap open. His body jerks in an awkward position before he braces himself against the wall. Shaking his head, he grabs his towel and dries himself. He brushes his teeth, and looks with resigned eyes at the black mess that is his hair, so like a bird's nest. One of these days, he hopes that his hair will finally be tamed. Unfortunately, today's not the day. He sighs and swallows a few pills that are part his daily medicine regimen.
The razor is in his hand when his mobile rings. He drops the razor and wipes the remainder of the shaving cream off his face. Running to answer his call, he is glad that he was nearly done shaving. He flips open his mobile and says, "Hello?"
"Hey, Harry. It's me."
"Ron," he says, grinning. "How are you?"
"I'm good, I'm good." There is a slight pause, as if Ron has lost his train of thought. "So… are you coming tonight?"
"Yeah," he answers. "I'm coming."
"Good, that's great," Ron says. "Everyone will be happy to see you."
Harry opens his closet and grabs a random shirt. "Who's going to be there?"
"The usual," Ron replies. "Hermione, Ginny, Neville, and Luna."
Harry pulls a pair of jeans out of his drawer. "Sounds good."
"Anything in particular you want to do?"
"No, not really."
"All right then, I guess we'll come up with plans when you get here?"
"I guess so," he says. "Look Ron, I'm going to be late—"
"Are you still working at that children's shelter?"
He doesn't know why Ron asks this question. "It's why I'm going to hang up on you unless you let me say good-bye."
"Harry—" Ron begins, then breaks and then asks, "have you taken your medicine today?"
And so this is the real reason Ron called, he thinks. Harry does not understand why Ron asks this nearly every time he calls. He always takes his medicine. He knows he has to. "Yeah, I have. I take it every morning, Ron."
He hears Ron's relief when he says, "I'll see you at 5:30."
"See you then," Harry echoes and hangs up.
He puts his shirt on, pulls his jeans up, grabs his stuff and runs out of his flat. He hopes he did not forget anything. Not that he has time to go back and get it, if he had. He does not have to look at his watch to know that he is running late. He has this feeling, of things that are beyond him, things that he knows.
Last Friday, it had just been Ron, Hermione, and him. The trio, they said. Too bad, instead of feeling part of the group, he felt like a third wheel. He felt awkward, being around them when they were together. Not that he begrudged them their relationship, he just never considered being with either of them like that, and he did not see how they could. One of those mysteries of the world that eluded him he supposed.
"Harry," he heard Ron calling, "you there?"
He smiled, blinking away his thoughts. "So what are we ordering for take-away?"
"I was thinking Chinese," Hermione replied, pushing some stray hair behind her ear. "We don't eat enough ethnically different food, and there's an excellent selection of Chinese food around here. We ought to try it."
Ron frowned. "So pizza's out of the question?"
Harry chuckled when Hermione chunked a piece of paper at Ron. "I think it is, Ron."
For a moment, there was something in Ron's eyes that seemed off. But it must have been him because when Harry looked again it's not there. Instead, he saw Ron bending over to pick up the piece of paper. Before tossing it into the rubbish can, Ron tilted his head and said, "It's not just me, mate, is it? Pizza's good stuff!"
"It is," Harry murmured, earning himself a glare from Hermione.
He and Ron shared a secret smile when Hermione started to launch into her cultural speech: "You two don't take advantage of what London has to offer. If you were living in a small town of some sort, you'd be eager to experience everything London has, but because you're here you don't take advantage of it! I…"
It was Hermione that found him a job. She saw an ad in the paper about a children's shelter that needed some extraneous help. She thought it would be a good place for him to work, since no experience was necessary and all training that he needed was on-the-job. And he liked being at the shelter. Not only was it something to do, he enjoyed helping kids out. It was a great solution to his problem.
"You're late," Teddy says.
Harry picks the boy up, even though Teddy's probably too old for that sort of thing, and asks, "Why are you outside?"
Teddy really shouldn't be outside. While the children's shelter looks good compared to the buildings around it, it's a downright dump when Harry compares it to where he lives. He wishes the shelter could be in a better part of town, but location-wise this is the best. And besides, the kids here need it.
"Waiting for you," Teddy answers cheekily.
Teddy reminds him of someone, though he cannot put his finger down on as of whom. "You ought to have been waiting inside," Harry admonishes, putting the boy down when they enter the shelter. "It's not the type of street to be loitering around."
"'M not loitering."
Harry glances down at the little imp. "Do you even know what loitering means?"
"It means loitering," is the smart arse's retort. Harry rethinks that Teddy reminds him of someone. In some ways, Teddy does but in other ways, he definitely does not. "Are you gonna make me read a nasty book?"
"Reading's good for you," Harry responds, waving at a colleague who was trying to soothe a crying girl. "It'll help you do better in school, expand your mind and whatnot."
"Language," Harry scolds. "Remember, the younger kids."
"And you don't want them picking up bad habits," Teddy drones on. "I get it, I get it."
Harry sighs and steers Teddy into the room that's sort of his office, and sort of the place where the misfits hang out. Already he notices that Vera and Racquel are there. They are arguing over which one of them gets to go get Harry's morning cup of tea. He does not understand the big allure of it, but he tells Vera she can get it since Racquel got it yesterday. Vera runs out beaming, and Racquel starts pouting. In the background, Harry can hear Teddy sorting through the books on the shelf.
He smiles and thinks: it's going to be another one of those days.
When he walked into the children's shelter for the first time, he thought it was unfamiliar and yet familiar at the same time. There was something about the place that reminded him of somewhere. He was not sure if it was just the kids, or if it was their unhappy family situations that he could relate to. Either way, going to the shelter felt like a strange homecoming.
"Hello," a young woman around his age greeted him. "Are you here to donate or maybe to volunteer?"
"He's here to volunteer," Hermione answered for him.
While Hermione and the young woman hashed out the details, his information and situation, he let his eyes wander around the place. He noticed that the building might have looked like a dump on the outside, but was fairly well maintained on the inside. And he saw that there were a lot of kids, of various ages, playing or talking or napping around the place.
One kid, in particular, interested him. The kid had dark hair, a similar shade to his own—but curly rather than just messy, and his eyes are blue instead of green. The boy sat fidgeting in the corner, sometimes looking longingly at the few toys that were being shared around by the others. Harry thought it was weird that he felt an affinity for the kid when he had never been in a circumstance like this before.
"So," the young woman said, startling him, "when would you like to volunteer?"
Harry glanced at her, and then his eyes drifted back to the kids and the blue-eyed boy. "Does everyday sound good?"
He thought he heard Hermione choke, as if she'd been taken back. But it must have been his imagination. He had a pretty vivid one, fantastical, actually. If she had choked, she recovered quickly enough to say, "Are you sure about that, Harry? Everyday is quite the time commitment."
He shrugged. "I've nothing better to do."
The young woman smiled. "That's wonderful! We rarely get volunteers who can commit this kind of time." She held out her hand, and he took it after a moment's hesitation. "It's nice to meet you, Harry."
"Nice to meet you too," he murmured, sifting through his memories trying to recall her name, for it had to have been mentioned earlier in their discussion. "Er…"
"Becky," Hermione said, "her name's Becky."
"Right," he said, throwing her a grateful smile. "Nice to meet you, Becky."
Becky shook his hand and then released it. "Welcome to the staff of the Eastside Children's Shelter."
Harry has noticed Teddy's always one of the last children to leave. Becky says it is because he likes to stay with Harry, that if she did not know better she would think Teddy is Harry's son. Harry admits, Ted and him do look eerily alike. When Ron saw a snapshot of Harry and Teddy, he had choked on his tea. Harry supposes, glancing down at the boy, that it'd be a shock.
"Maybe she won't pick me up," Teddy remarks.
It's generally the same comment he makes everyday. Teddy wishes that he did not have to live with his aunt, wishes that his parents were still alive. Harry wishes the same for him, if only wishes came true. "Your aunt's not as bad as you make her out to be," Harry tells him. "She feeds you. I mean compared to what…" his voice trails off as he tries to remember something that he can't quite recall.
"Compared to what?" Teddy asks. "What Harry?"
The boy's looking at him, his big blue eyes earnest and ready to listen. Too bad what he wants to say has blown away like the breeze. "Something I don't remember."
He ought to have said something more positive about Teddy's family life, which could have been worse. After all, some of the kids at the shelter come from abusive homes. Teddy's is just impoverished. Harry feels more sympathy for the other kids, but Teddy's still his favorite even though he should not have favorites. He wants to save Teddy from his miserable life, but how can he save someone when he's being saved himself?
"Don't you hate that?" Teddy mutters.
Sometimes, Harry thinks that Teddy talks too much like an adult. But then, he guesses growing up in the rough parts of town does that to them. Compared to the other kids his age, Teddy has not been around the shelter as long.
"Hate forgetting stuff."
Harry shrugs. "It happens, especially when you're me."
Teddy looks perplexed, and looks like he wants to ask something, but he shuts his mouth when he sees his uncle not his aunt. He scrambles to his feet, and smoothes out the creases in his jeans. He forces a smile onto his face. "Hi, Uncle Victor."
Harry notices that Teddy's extra polite. The cheekiness that Harry usually associates with him is gone. Instead, Teddy's face is passive and slightly pale. Harry's only seen the uncle once or twice, and he knows the aunt's okay. So he thinks that maybe the uncle is the reason why Teddy escapes to the shelter. For every kid there was a reason, and Teddy's the one blank slate.
"Come on, boy," the man snaps, and Harry winces. "I don't have all day. Hurry up!"
Harry watches Teddy leave like he does everyday. Today is different though, Teddy drags his feet as if he does not want to leave. He walks, fast and obedient, but his shoulders tell another story. They are slouched like he has been defeated by heavy burden he does not want to bear.
Harry wants to stop him, but he remembers something Becky had said to him in his first year volunteering: We aren't social workers, Harry. All we do is volunteer work to help the kids that the social workers say don't need a radical change in environment. I know it's hard to do nothing or say nothing, but our job is to nurture the kids here so they can survive there. It's all we can do.
He doesn't like to believe that. He wants there to be something more. But he doesn't know what.
On his first day at the job, Hermione insisted on going with him. She wanted to make sure he got there safely, since it was in the slums, and that everything went smoothly. He felt like a preschooler with his mum. He wondered if she was this bad when they were in boarding school together. He did not mind her caring about him, but sometimes she took things too far. He did not need her mothering over him like he was a child, even with what happened.
"Harry, humor me," she said. "You know I'm a bit of a worrywart."
That had to be the understatement of the year. But he held his tongue and nodded complacently instead. "I know." He reminded himself that Hermione had done a lot for him in the past few months. Without her, he did not know where he would be. "It's just, sometimes…"
"I can be a lot to handle," she remarked. "Ron's told me."
Harry smiled weakly and walked up the entrance steps of the shelter. He glanced at her and bit his lip. "You aren't going to go inside with me, are you?"
"Of course, I'm not," she said. "But if you want me to…"
"No!" Harry exclaimed. He saw a trace of amusement cross over her face, and he was glad to see it. It made her look younger, less serious, and more her age. "That's all right."
"I'll see you tonight," Hermione said, looking him in the eye. "You are stopping by Ron's place when you get off, aren't you?"
"Well," he began, he had actually been thinking about going back to his newly rented flat and just being by himself for a change, "I guess I could stop by."
"Wonderful!" She stepped toward him and kissed his cheek. "We'll see you then."
He watched her leave, then took a deep breath before turning to the door. He was about to enter when it flew open and a dark-haired boy shot out. Harry felt all the air knocked out of him as he stumbled backwards and fell onto his arse with at least four stones of additional weight on top of him. There was no sound of bones breaking, though he had not the faintest clue why he would know that sound.
"Theodore Porter!" Harry did not recognize the voice, but when he saw the face he could identify the speaker as Becky, the woman he met a few days ago. "You can't just go barging out of the shelter like that--- oh!" Becky's eyes widened when she saw Harry. Her eyes narrowed when she shifted her gaze toward the boy. "Look at what happened! Apologize at once!"
The boy grinned and placed his small, grubby hands on Harry's cheeks. "I'm sorry, mister, but you really shouldn't have been in my way." Harry felt slightly sticky under the boy's touch. "I'm Teddy. Who are you?"
It was a good question Teddy had asked unknowingly. "You can call me Harry," he said.
"I'll see you on Monday, Harry!" Becky exclaims while simultaneously pushing him out of the shelter. "Now go have some fun with your friends! It's a Friday night, for god's sake!"
Harry chuckles and takes her hand, lifting it up to his lips and pressing a kiss on her knuckles. "Shouldn't you listen to your own advice, sometimes?"
Pulling her hand away from him, she shoos him off. "You're not the Director of Eastside, so you can't tell me what to do. I, as your boss, on the other hand, can."
"Right," he mutters and rolls his eyes sarcastically. She swats him over the head with a folder. "Hey! Keep abusing me like this, and I won't come back next week."
She simply grins. "You know, you act a lot like Ted sometimes."
Harry raises an eyebrow. "Shouldn't you be saying that he acts a lot like me?"
She shakes her head, and her smile widens. "Of course not, not when you're acting like an immature brat."
He wants to smile, but it falters instead. There is something about what she said that strikes him in a funny way. He shrugs it off and forces himself to smile. "I'll see you next week."
When Harry glances down at his watch, he does not like what he sees. The hour hand is slightly past 5, which is not so bad if the minute hand was not on the 20 mark. He takes off in a dead run, though there is no way the tube is going to get him to Ron's house in time. Already he prepares himself for the onslaught that will be Hermione's lecture on the merits of punctuality.
He turns the corner sharply, and slams into someone—he wonders why this always happen to him—in a body-jarring manner. He has to admire the other man's grace, because not only did the person not fall, he almost manages to save him from falling. Harry sometimes muses that the world is not a fair place, especially when some people seem to have an extraordinary amount of good luck.
"Bloody hell!" Harry hears a young man's voice curse. "It's you. It's really you."
It takes a moment before Harry's eyes focus on the young man. He notes the man's slender build and tall frame. Again, it seems to him that he will always be shorter than other men, except for those yet to reach adulthood like Teddy. Although the young man seems to know him, Harry does not recognize the owner of the pale but beautiful face. The features are aristocratic, almost fragile in a way. But what is most remarkable are the man's grey eyes and white-blond hair.
"I always knew you admired me," the blond man sneers. "Who would have thought all the rumors were correct? That you're hiding in London of all places."
Who is this man? This beautiful, sneering man? "Sorry about that," Harry apologizes, his voice soft and uncertain. "Do I know you?"
The blond man looks taken back for a moment before he clears his face of all emotion. "I know we haven't seen each other for more than 5 years, but I would think you'd remember me."
"I…" Harry begins, and then shakes his head, "I don't remember, no."
Rubbing his chin thoughtfully, the blond man looks at Harry from head to toe. Harry feels like he is being deliberately stripped down to his skin. But the overtone of the gaze is not sexual. More intense and thoughtful than anything, but also very, very penetrating.
"Maybe, I'm mistaken," the grey-eyed man says. "My apologies…?"
"It's actually me who should apologize," Harry murmurs, smiling gratefully. It is just a case of mistaken identity. He probably looks like someone the stranger knows—a lot like the person, whoever he is. Easy to be mistaken for someone, in that case. "I was the one who wasn't paying attention to where I was going and all."
"No troubles, no troubles." The blond man returns Harry's smile. "What did you say your name was?"
"I didn't," Harry replies. "It's Harry Potter."
Again, Harry thinks that his mind is wandering away from him because he swears he sees a flicker of something in the blond man's eyes. He must be losing his mind. He shakes his head hard and blinks furiously. What is wrong with him? Twice in a week, he thinks he sees something that cannot be there! The blond man has already said he was mistaken. But why is there this feeling nagging him that says the man spoke too soon or is lying?
"Harry Potter," the blond man whispers and inclines his head, "a pleasure to meet you."
"And you are…?"
"Draco Malfoy. My name is Draco Malfoy."
There had been one Friday where he had been late, but not really late. He could only be late if Hermione was there to reprimand him, otherwise the others would just shrug and continue on with the dinner preparations. Somehow, Hermione managed to arrive a few minutes after him. And Harry tried to act like he had been there since 5:30 like he should have been. But when Hermione started scanning the room, Harry saw a positively impish smile on Ginny's lips.
"Ginny, was Harry here on time?"
"Nope," Ginny responded, and her eyes glitter with a mischievousness that was worthy of the one of the twins. "He only got here five minutes before you did, so he was rather late too."
Harry glared at Ginny, but tensed up when he felt Hermione stalk over to him. It was impressive because he and Hermione are on the same eye level. When she did it to Ron, it just looked cute because Ron has to peer down at her. "Harry Potter," Hermione reprimands, "will you ever be on time?"
"I did try," Harry said, pushing his bottom lip out in what he hoped was pathetic contrite.
"Oh well." She sighed and threw her hands up in the air. "So who wants to tell me what's for dinner?"
The door opens to Ron's house with a dramatic flourish. As Harry expects, he sees a grinning Ron and a frowning Hermione. But there is a hint of mischief in Hermione's otherwise stern expression. He knows she is going to lecture him on the principle of punctuality, even though she is not really pissed at him. She says if she did not, then how would he ever feel contrite enough to try to come on time?
"Harry Potter!" Hermione exclaims. "Must you always be late?"
Harry shrugs his shoulders. "I guess so."
She purses her lips and over her shoulder, Ginny winks at him. "Harry, you are still…"
"Give it a rest, love," Ron murmurs, wrapping his arm Hermione's waist affectionately. "He's late, you know he normally is. After all, you're the one who got him his bloody job. If it's anyone's fault, it's yours. He didn't use to be late before he started working at the shelter."
"Of course…" Hermione grumbles. "Blame the one that gives Harry something worthwhile to do with his time!"
Ron's grin merely widens as he pulls her aside so that Harry can come in. "But you can keep reprimanding Harry like a naughty little child if you want."
Glaring at her longtime boyfriend, she presses her lips close and smiles at Harry. "So why were you late?"
"I ran into someone," Harry says.
"Oh," Hermione remarks while shutting the door behind him, "anyone we know?"
He shakes his head. "I mean, I literally ran into someone." He wonders if he should mention that the other person seemed to know him, but he shrugs the thought off. "I was running a little late," he lies, "but I had to stop and help him because I kind of knocked the bloke over. Factor that in, that's why I'm so late."
Hermione rolls her eyes, but links her arm around his to guide him toward the kitchen where Harry can already smell the food cooking. "You're just like Ron," she murmurs, a fond note in her voice. "No wonder you two are best friends."
"You shouldn't forget yourself," Ron remarks. "After all, we are known as the trio, are we not?"
Hermione and Ron, share a look that makes Harry think it is more of a duo than a trio now. His very thoughts are echoed by Ginny who mutters, "You two can stop making puppy eyes at each other or go get a room! Also, someone better get to the kitchen and help Neville and Luna!"
Harry's eyes widen and he looks at Ginny for the dreadful confirmation. "Neville's cooking?"
She grimaces and nods. "He's trying to."
Harry glances at Ron who shrugs and at Hermione who says, "We couldn't say no."
From the kitchen, Harry hears a curse and then smells something burning. He is not surprised when he sees a smudged up Luna stumble out of the kitchen announcing, "Neville's burned dinner. We need to order take-away."
And such is life on a Friday…
Author's Note: The beginning of the story has been laid out of you, and I would like to know what you think about it. There's a lot that I've hinted in the story and if you've read a few of my miniseries before, you should be able to pick up what's going on. Also, even if you haven't I think you ought to have a clue. Tell me what you think of the characters and what the fuck you think is going on. I'd love to know what my readers are thinking about what I'm writing. Thank you.