Disclaimer: Oh, booty.


word prompt: hours
words: 3,659


When Draco took his walk, after he ate, it was a matter of life that he take Blaise with him. Blaise always understood, Blaise always shut up and never said more than "hello" or "goodbye", and the occasional softly chuckled "idiot".

There were no heart to heart talks, and everything Blaise did was interrelated with what Draco did; their arms and legs moved at the same speed, their eyes became lazy and unfocused, and the Muggle machine Blaise had managed to smuggle over to Draco blared music in the blond's ears.

And when Blaise was sick, it felt better. Nicer, more calm, almost. Like letting go of everything that bothered him and just walking. He liked it even better when Blaise didn't come and it rained.

It bothered him that he couldn't decide to leave Blaise behind or not. Because sooner or later (and he noticed when Blaise had the flu and was gone for two weeks) he'd miss the rhythm of another set of footsteps, and that barely perceptible murmur of sound while Blaise cursed at some kids in front of them.

It was quiet, like that moment when someone stepped off a building and while the shock was still building up, no one dared to breath. Draco wanted to live in that moment for the rest of his life. He wanted to reach out and touch the raindrops, pull them back like a curtain and feel what it was exactly that made all the gel in his hair wash out and pattered so relentlessly against his windowpanes, like they could break them down with the small amount of will they each held, individually.

He thought about everything, these days, and especially when Blaise was sick and the sound was deafened by his music, he thought about his parents. He wondered if Azkaban was cold. He wondered if his mother ever got sunburnt while she vacationed in Italy. He wondered how two months of sun and beach could tan a person. Would he recognize her if she came back?

Draco laughed in the rainfall. He'd said if again. He had to remember not to stumble. He had to be sure, about something. That was a three-hour walk, that day, and it pounded itself into his head that every walk until his mother came back should be three hours, like a ritual. Blaise didn't say anything when Draco mentioned it. Just shouldered his knapsack and asked if afterward, they could stop off and eat something because he hadn't had dinner and had snuck out.


There were other times when Draco managed to finally understand that nothing was going to work out.

Those were the days he wished Hogwarts was still opened, and that he didn't have to contend with fucking Potter's house being three blocks down and around the corner. How the hell did Potter get so loaded anyway?

Blaise laughed last walk, last two hours, when Draco snapped out of his stupor and said that. You always knew, Blaise said, and proceeded to recount their every encounter. Draco slipped in some that the dark-haired wizard forgot, and Blaise would insert a snide comment, which got the both of them started off and before they knew it they were alternately yelling and collapsing into laughter.

"But there was that time you guys dated," Blaise said, as nonchalantly as possible. Draco didn't react. Slipped his thumb over the volume button and smiled when the music grew louder, so that what Blaise said next was drowned out.

He wanted to find out what Potter kept hidden under that perfect, well-kept manor of his. There were no house-elves, probably. He had seen the gaggle of redheads and one, very busy one crawling around on the property enough to know Potter hadn't totally retired from the wizarding world.

"It makes no sense," he told Blaise, next walk, eyes flashing darkly. He hadn't slept the night before, and now he glanced as his watch. He had a half hour left. "I've never even seen him come out yet."

Blaise handed him a card inviting him to brunch on Saturday, courtesy of his mother, and didn't say anything. Draco ripped the card to shreds and threw it down the sewer, igniting another argument which ended with Blaise smirking triumphantly and Draco finishing his walk by himself, scrambling to get inside as it rained.

He sent Blaise an owl saying he'd be there. No sense in wasting food, after all, and besides, Blaise's mother wanted him.


Saturday was dismal, as he predicted, but by the end of brunch his legs were jittering anxiously. He wanted to go and have a walk already. But Blaise's mother was going on and on; his ears only pricked up at her last sentence.

"I'm sorry, what?"

She smirked, as though pleasantly surprised to learn he'd actually been listening. "I was just saying, Blaise had Harry Potter calling the other day, and it was so nice to see him getting out of the house more often. It made me quite excited, since Harry's such a gallant boy and he's made plans to see Blaise soon."

Draco looked at Blaise. Betrayal didn't quite fit the description right now. He wanted to rip out his best friend's guts and stomp on them, watch the blood spill through the cracks of the sidewalk and smile when he saw those eyelids flutter close.

He was pretty fucked up, he knew.


So it was raining when he walked home, or rather, around the city block, doubling the time and deciding to make it six hours, ranting as it became nine, quieting and becoming more mournful when Blaise joined him around the eleventh hour.

"I hate you," Draco told him.

Blaise didn't say anything, let him settle into the rhythm and then slung an arm around his shoulders the same instant they passed Potter's house. 'We're neighbors' hung unspoken in the air. 'Neighbors and best friends, and Potter could be.'

But Draco didn't want it that way. He wanted it the way it was now; depending solely on these walks, until he had to go away to University at the end of summer, until he found out if his mother would be coming back or not.

Twenty-seven hours ago exactly, he had started a letter to her, and then crumpled it up. Thought better of it, and burned it, then the trashcan, then the pen and ink. He hated her.

In the rain he kicked at a puddle and sniffed.

"You could have told me," he said.

Blaise nodded.


Potter's face is grinning eerily at him, and Draco hates it. He can see it from behind the corner; he feels like a fucking stalker. There are kids everywhere.

Okay, so maybe there are only four or five and maybe it's because he's babysitting for his pathetic friends but Blaise told him he tends to exaggerate anyway. Truth is, he was on his walk when he saw idiot Potter stalking around with the whole troop of snot-nosed brats marching after him. He was having fun, Draco could tell, and in a moment, the Malfoy had turned around and started the other way.

He had two hours left and not enough time.

"Malfoy!"

Damn.


Potter had apologized for not saying hi sooner, claiming that he'd heard Draco had been on vacation, and then after that, that he'd been too out of it. Draco didn't question the hesitations or the slight stumbling over the words. It was only natural that Potter would not emphasize on what had happened. Potter would keep quiet.

Draco accidentally on purpose told him about the walks, and his ritual. Potter was quiet before saying he'd like to come, sometime.

And then a kid had roller bladed into his shin, and, cursing, Draco had limped away with Potter's apologies ringing in his ears.

He looked different. It was nicer, better, but Draco thought it was the haircut. His hair couldn't be called messy anymore. It was shaggy. But it was nice.

He snorted back a laugh and wondered what Blaise would say when Draco asked him if he thought Potter had a six-pack.


It was raining again, but Draco was in a bad mood. He couldn't reach Blaise and he wasn't coming, so he had set off on his walk, minus any sort of protection except for the Muggle hood he wore. He hated it, sort of, but laughed when his house-elf proffered an umbrella.

He found himself in front of Potter's house, in front of the door, and wondered why he was there. He rang the doorbell and then, while he was in the midst of deciding whether or not he should run away and see what happened, Potter opened it, sleep-tousled and yawning.

"Draco?" he said, sounding surprised. "What're you doing here?"

"You called me Draco," was all he said.

You should come in, Harry had said, and then nearly shove him away from the rain. All the lights were off and a vase had been upset and was frozen in midair. Draco stared at it until Potter put it back, settling it into motion so that it shuddered once before Potter put his wand away.

Draco glanced at the clock. Two o' clock in the morning. Blaise was probably asleep, then, and Draco felt a twinge of guilt before brushing it off and staring at Potter again. The idiot had stumbled away, and returned with a house-elf. Draco blinked blearily in surprise. Was that thing on its head a sock?

"Dobby will serve you!" it chirped, and in a second Draco was dry, but he suddenly started shivering.

"Here, Dobby," Harry yawned again. "I've got it."

But he started laughing instead and then waved the house-elf away while he spelled a cuppa for the both of them. "You look like a wet dog, Malfoy."

"But I'm dry."

Harry grinned wryly. "Some sense of humor, geez."

Draco followed him into the living room, where a fire was started up, and he started to feel drowsy. Harry was more talkative now, and rambled on about anything. Draco let him, nodding in all the right places and offering a small noise of appreciation now and then. His eyes restlessly roamed the entire room, until he couldn't see straight.

He fell asleep listening to the rain slap the windows, and Harry talking on and on about nothing. He had a dream that the rain finally won and broke the window, smashed all of them and then the door, and the wind shrieked in his ear.

You liar. Move on, do what you have to do.

When he woke up, he was wrapped in sheets and lying in a bed. It didn't take him long to figure out it was his own, and suddenly felt an enormous amount of gratitude towards Potter. If he had woken up in even a guest bed, he would've died right there.


"New best friend?" Blaise said, next day.

Draco rolled his eyes and glanced at his watch. Two hours and forty-seven minutes. He turned around and kept walking.

"Why do we do this, again?" Blaise seemed more chatty, and Draco frowned in annoyance, hoping he would catch on. But Blaise was stubborn, and once he started, he never stopped.

"You're not fat," he said seriously. "Look at me—Draco, stop rolling your eyes—you are not fat. In fact, you make me seem like I'm obese. And you must be able to walk a marathon now."

Draco laughed.

Blaise smiled.

They were back in the tempo, moving with each other and smiling at the silent taunts. Blaise glared up at the sky.

"Stupid weather. Sunny one day and raining the next."

Draco picked at a flower on the wall and turned down the volume. "I don't know. I kind of like it."

Blaise stared, incredulously. "Shut up."

"So I slept over at Potter's, yesterday."

And Draco didn't really think it was his fault that Blaise ran into the street pole, but he graciously (or so he thought) accepted the blame for laughing hysterically when it happened.


It was August, and Draco was tired. Two more weeks before University started up, and all he could think about was how much it had been raining. He was missing his steady tempo and had skipped four walks.

The Muggle thing ran out of "batteries" and he'd had to go on silent walks, which he hated, and he had even ditched calling Blaise because he couldn't stand the thought of walking through the night with only crunching footsteps and falling rain and loud thoughts.

Potter was coming out of the house more, he noticed, and sometimes he took walks too. They were odd and jerky, not timed, not precise, and Draco liked watching them because it meant nothing was predictable and for once, he could be unsure about something.

"Stupid," Blaise said, and Draco arched an eyebrow.

"This from you? What happened when you had that crush on the ever insufferable Weasley? Who stuck by you and didn't do anything, even when your father found out?"

"You set my hair on fire."

The laughter that spilled out of him when Blaise was around was intense; he laughed like he'd never be able to laugh again, or like it was impossible for him to breath if he didn't. When he had dated Potter (oh, yes, that brief stint from last year) the laughter was private and lighter and freer. It was better, in a sense, because he only wanted to keep it to himself and Harry.

Draco cursed and leaned his head against a window. He'd missed his walk today and he slipped up. Potter.

What a fucking idiot.


Sometimes, when Draco was the sick one, Blaise would come over. There was some random incident when he was sick with flu from walking in the rain, and Blaise had been as well. He'd stayed in his manor, bored, angry, and slightly out of it while he played his Muggle machine over and over again.

The house-elves were creepy, hovering over him so much, so he sent them away and told them to only come with his meals. Those days, he'd only ever thought of the past, sitting up in bed with glazed eyes and wondering about everything and nothing.

He wanted to know how his mother was faring. She probably had forgotten him; it had been a month, at that time, and he wasn't sure why the owls and letters and everything weren't coming. Severus had volunteered to go with her, and Draco had scowled and mumbled something about how she'd be fine. He didn't regret it. He knew she would be.

He thought about Potter, of course. Potter who never shut up, Potter who didn't know that on walks you shouldn't think of anything but which way to go, Potter who thought that the same old paths were boring and always wanted to take new roads, Potter who craved change so badly it was like his life's blood and yet when it came, he couldn't handle it.


.
Once upon a time, Draco lived for uncertainty like Potter's.
.


What, he thought, as he set out on his walk the next day, had caused them to break up? Besides the controversy, of course.

There was nothing. No reasonable answer. They were ready. The war was over. No one they actually cared about wondered over their relationship. Draco hushed the thoughts as they came in. Turned the volume up and started humming to himself. Ignored Potter's body as it moved down the corner, still not noticing his. He was expecting the collision and yet he wasn't, and he still managed a slight smirk when he looked down.

Potter looked confused.

Since when were his eyes so green?


Narcissa woke him up when she came in, slightly red-cheeked and as tanned as she supposed him to be, smiling as she showed off her new trinkets.

"It was a nice vacation. Sorry for being so cut off, darling," she told him.

Draco nodded and both of them pretended not to notice he was clinging to her. It was another reason why Draco had always favored his mother. She, like Blaise, was one of those people who understood what he wanted and when. Right now he wanted amnesty, and he wasn't even sure from whom.

Narcissa asked one of the house-elves for some tea and asked him how he was going as they ate. Draco replied nonchalantly, eyes never straying from her. She didn't look very different. It was like she hadn't left. She didn't even seem to have missed him.

"I'm going for a walk."

"Don't be out too late, darling."


.
Damn.
.


.
He'd forgotten the machine.
.


Potter opened the door the same way, sleepy faced and stumbling. He muttered something and yawned, and Draco pushed his way in. I've got the couch, he had said, and then collapsed on it. Potter peered at him and then went back upstairs.

Draco fell asleep and dreamed he was walking through his house, opening the doors and looking for his mother. She was in every room, smiling and calling him 'darling', and every time he would shake his head and say, "You're not my mother" before shutting the door.

He woke up and wished he was that sure in real life.


Potter didn't ask questions, but Draco knew at once that he knew, and his suspicions were only confirmed when Blaise came around as naturally as though he did it all the time. Draco wouldn't be surprised if he did.

"I'm right here," Draco said bitterly.

Blaise nodded. "You up for a walk?" He held up a brand new machine, slightly thicker and flashing. "I've got all your songs and some new ones."

"Are you coming?"

Blaise shook his head. "You've got thinking to do."

"I always think when I'm with you."

But he went by himself, and thought hard. He saw Narcissa's face, twisted in fear and crying as blood rained down on her, splattering across him and leaving him wide-eyed. He saw Blaise, the same way he'd seen him Saturday at the brunch, and Draco placed a hand against his aching head.

What day was it? He wondered dimly if he could go to University early, and then he realized he was at the end of his normal path. Here he would turn around, and complete his three hour ritual.

Instead he kept walking. He wondered how far he could go. He'd walk until the music ran out, and then he'd walk faster, and longer, and farther.

He wondered how fucked-up he'd have to be by then.


Harry blinked and stared steadily into the Mediwitch's eyes.

"So, what? No improvements whatsoever?"

She shook her head. "He was tortured pretty roughly by the Death Eaters for his relationship with you, Mr. Potter. It was all we could do to convince him he had broken up with you after the war ended, if only to ease his suffering and repress the memories a little."

"And his memory isn't coming back?"

She shook her head. "He has constructed his own world. They probably do come back, but to him they are more subconscious efforts; fleeting thoughts, maybe. Like the death of his mother and Blaise Zabini, as well as the Weasleys and the Grangers."

"Perfect," Harry muttered, and stood. "And the music?"

"It has him calm," the Mediwitch said. "He doesn't scream nearly as much when there's music playing, and sometimes, he gets up and walks around the room—"

"Or around the gardens for three hours, I know," Harry said quietly. "I know. I've been here more times than I can remember, and I know."

"Until next week, Mr. Potter?"

Harry nodded and walked out. The Mediwitch, who felt sorry for him, raised her voice and cried, "When it rains, he usually seems better! He even talks normally a little! Come by then!"

Harry didn't turn as he raised a hand in parting. He passed by the locked room, refraining from peering into it, afraid he'd have to see Draco, sitting up in the bed in the white, white room, and muttering something about Saturday brunch.


.

Maa, maaa, I LOVE THIS ONE.

Eh, so I hope you get what it's about, though, and...um...yeah, so the word prompt is hours, thus the three hour ritual. Oh, and this style of writing was wholly inspired by the style Mashiro uses, she wrote a Naruto fanfic called Almost Sucks and I kindasorta fell in lurve with it. Read it. I demand it of you.

And...ah...writer's block continues to hit big on Objective, even though I''ve managed about seven pages, and Lifeblood... (wails miserably) I HAVEN'T STARTED IT YET, I'M SO SORRY! I know what I want to do and how I want to do it, and I could have it all typed in two days or so but I've been hit with bouts of laziness and when I'm up to it I end up actually working on my Midsummer Night's Dream production.

In lighter news, Ifound a bug today. I named it Felipe Conseulas Aborado Juan Juelez Juilio Marco Pablo Pedro Esperanza The Fourth. It's a ladybug, and I think I'm letting him/her go later on. It's sooooo cute!