Disclaimer: …are we still doing this? Really?
(a/n: Oh so hey.
Imma finish this fic now.
Now, now, I know what you're thinking. "But K-san, you abandoned this LITERALLY OVER A YEAR AGO WHAT THE HELL I WAS READING THAT GODDAMMIT."
I did them.
And now I'm done.)
(A further a/n:…okay I was writing porn. Like a seriously outrageous amount of porn you guys, you don't even know. But even after all that porn I still feel bad about not at least wrapping this up first.)
(A further, further a/n: …okay, so MendaciousMinx made me finish. Like literally made me, to the point of actually sitting down and forcing me to write it at metaphorical gunpoint. To the point of playing the role of every secondary character in this chapter. To the point where she gets her own hideously long author's note, in fact.)
(Co-a/n: I WOULD LIKE TO FORMALLY APOLOGIZE. For stealing Eden from you for approximately one year. Which must have felt more like one MILLION, given that she is a golden goddess of all things, etc., and to live without her work is equal to or greater than the agony suffered each day by Prometheus as Zeus' eagle tears at his flesh and devours his liver and so on.
THE POINT IS. I met Eden about a year ago, which makes me directly responsible for this fics abandonment. You know all that porn she wrote? I helped. My characters had filthy, filthy sex with her characters for a WHOLE YEAR and I am not sorry. For that part. I am sorry I stole her, as I stated above, but it really couldn't be helped, otherwise HOW WOULD GERVAISE HAVE SURVIVED without Gregory's MASSIVE PENIS.
I got off-track again didn't I. I did. Anyway, after a year in which Eden and I traveled the universe in a blue Police Box defeating the Fire Lord and generally fighting Space Crime (If you count the unnecessary capital letters in that sentence you'll notice that there are six. This is because those things are Important and not because I spent Too Much Time writing Beat Poetry in High School), I've finally begged and bartered Eden into finishing this fic. And it will get finished god DAMMIT. It will get finished if I have to DESTROY EARTH AND ALL OF ITS INHABITED NEIGHBORING PLANETS.
And it will be Awesome.)
Chapter 19: Happy
Come help me out I'm sick from the fight
From inserting a laugh where there's none
Show me where this joke got tired
Tell me you know cause I'm slow catching on…
They were doing it again.
Ron and Hermione were sitting across the table from Harry, gazing at each other in a manner that could be described in many ways (all of which involved some form of unpleasantly sticky, sweet substance), holding one another's hands and blushing.
And if that weren't enough, the words certainly were.
"Did...Did you do something different to your hair?"
"Why? Don't you like it?"
"Of course I like it! I never said I didn't like it! I only meant it's different, is all, not that I, er, I mean it's, I just thought maybe you did something with it or, I dunno, just..."
"Only I thought you might not like it."
"What, just now? It wasn't all right before?"
"It's always beautiful. You're always beautiful."
"Shut. Up," said Harry very slowly with lifting his head off the table. "Both of you just shut up already, will you?"
They jumped slightly, both having forgotten he was there.
"Blimey, Harry," Ron said, a concerned frown interrupting his freckles. "Did one of Neville's toadstools jump down your throat? You look like you're gonna be sick."
Harry sat up, rubbing his eyes. "Yeah. I mean no. Sorry. What?"
"He's got these hopping toadstool things. With faces. They're suicidal I think, one wandered into my eggs at breakfast yesterday and I could hear it reciting bad poetry from my stomach all morning." He pulled a face. "That and it tasted bloody awful."
"...sure. Yeah. Toadstools." He sighed quietly, his gaze wandering absently toward the Slytherin table. "Miserable, aren't they..."
"Yeah, and terrible."
But Hermione followed Harry's eyes to land on a head of immaculately combed blond hair. "...Something the matter?"
A bright, fixed smile leapt onto Harry's face. "Hm? What d'you mean?"
She sighed. "Nothing." Turning back to Ron, she let out a poorly suppressed giggle. "Ron, you're supposed to put your food in your mouth. Your forehead's not generally involved in any part of the process."
Ron crossed his eyes trying to see the bit of egg between them. "Er..."
This time the giggle went unstifled. "Here, let me..." She picked up a napkin and tidied him up, her fingers lingering on his cheek. "There, all better..."
"Thanks..." His flush ran up to the roots of his hair and delved into the territory below the collar of his shirt.
"Don't mention it..."
"Yeah all right just bend her over the table, why don't you, Ron," Harry grumbled, his expression twisting into a dull, sour frown. "Not like people are trying to eat or anything."
Ron's head snapped up, his eyes widening. "I wasn't—I didn't—I—"
Hermione glared across the table at Harry. "I'm sorry," she snapped, "Is our existence bothering you?"
"You don't think," Harry grumbled, staring menacingly down at his breakfast, "that maybe not everyone on the planet wants to watch you two fawning over each other like idiots twenty-four bloody hours a day?"
"Maybe I don't care what everybody else thinks." She grabbed Ron's hand.
"C'mon now," Ron said nervously, "There's no reason anybody should be upset..."
"Yeah. Well. Maybe you should. Because maybe everybody else thinks it's really fucking annoying."
"Really?" she growled, fingers tapping irritably on the table. "Is that what everybody thinks? Because you're the only one who seems to give a hinkypunk's hiney."
"Yeah well you wouldn't know, would you, seeing as you'd have to stop snogging him for ten minutes to notice—" He blinked. "Give a what?"
Hermione stood. "I have had just about enough, Harry! I have had enough of your bitching and your moaning and your constant need to remind me what a misery the world is when the only time it's miserable for me is the minute you open your mouth!"
For a moment after her verbal barrage ended Hermione just stood there, nostrils flaring, both hands flat on the table, glaring venomously down at him. Then, with one last infuriated sound, she upended the contents of his glass into his lap.
"Come on, Ron," she snarled, grabbing the redhead's sleeve and making her way toward the doors.
Ron made a few timid noises in the back of his throat, but followed meekly.
"Oh." She swiveled, just before reaching the door. "And a hinkypunk, as you learned in third year, is a one-legged bog creature that lures people into the marshes and kills them. As it's only effective if the victim is a misguided idiot, I'd keep an eye out!"
Her stomping footsteps echoed through the Great Hall for several moments after she and Ron had vanished.
He fell silent for a moment.
"I know what a hinkypunk is!"
"No you don't," someone quipped from behind him. "You slept through class that day."
"That was two years ago do you ever forget anything you stupid oh. Ginny." His cheeks colored faintly. "Er. Hi."
"Hey," she said brightly, sitting down next to him. "So. Hermione told you off and it was hilarious. Fill in the blanks."
He sank back into his seat with a frown. "There aren't any. She's just mental. They're both mental."
Ginny made a vague noise of disbelief.
"Well they are."
"It's not even any of your business."
"I mean—I mean they just—they're not thinking, you know?" He leaned back in his seat, teeth gritting in a tight, pained sort of grimace as he began to rock absently. "They're not even thinking. They're all laughs and smiles now but it doesn't work, none of it works, not for anyone, not ever and you can smile all you want but it doesn't make anyone happier and it won't make him stop lying and it won't make him stay and he's just—just going to close up again like before and it'll all be for nothing and—and—"
"—and wanting people to be fixed doesn't make them any less broken!" He braced his hands against the table, wondering vaguely how long they'd been shaking like that. "...it...it just doesn't, all right?"
"No," Ginny replied earnestly. "It doesn't work that way, even if we all wish it would. There's a bit more work involved."
"It doesn't matter, though, does it," he said quietly. "How much she works. It doesn't matter. He'll still ruin everything. He'll still pretend everything's fine when they both know it's not. He'll still smile at her like the liar he is and let her think he loves her. And she'll want him enough, she'll be stupid enough not to care." His teeth sank into his lip. "And then he'll leave anyway because it doesn't fucking matter."
"Did Malfoy dump you?"
"For the millionth time, no, he's just—" His gaze snapped up. "I—what do you mean, dump, it's not like he's—like we're—because we're not, don't be stupid, that—that'd be mad—"
"'Course not, daft of me. So in a hypothetical scenario in which you might, contrary to any logic or reason, be playing 'hide-the-wand' with the Ferret Queen, he, hypothetically, would not have dumped you?"
"He'd have to be dating me to have dumped me and he isn't dating me so no."
"I didn't say 'dating', I said 'playing hide-the-wand'. And it's hypothetical. Completely hypothetical. Not in any way related to the real world in which you have not, of course, had tons of dirty, dirty broom closet sex with Draco Malfoy."
"Can I ask you a question?"
"Is there anyone who doesn't know I'm shagging Malfoy?"
He put his head in his hands and sighed. "Brilliant."
"Look at it this way. You've skipped that awkward 'coming out' business. Everybody knows you're flying for the other team."
"I don't care about that," he snapped. "People already think I'm mental, what does it matter if they think I'm mental and gay?"
"Oh you're definitely full of something."
Ginny stood up, clapping her hands. "Well! I've had about as much of this as I can take." She yanked Harry to his feet. "Come on."
"Ginny whatever it is I don't want to do it. And anyway I've got...things." He coughed. "Things to do. Loads of...things that need doing…"
Ginny wasn't listening. She dragged him across the Great Hall, only stopping when they were standing directly behind Draco's seat.
"Oi. Weasel," Draco returned in a bored sort of tone. "What do you want, Ginger, I'm eating."
"I hate to break up your charming little garden party, but I have a delivery for you." She shoved Harry down into the seat next to Draco.
Harry waved awkwardly. "…hi."
"...Right." Draco blinked, displaying no emotion in particular as he slid his chair back. "Better just...finish this later, Pansy, I'll meet you back in the common room." His fingers trailed against Harry shoulder when he stood, too quickly for anyone else to notice. "Remember what I said."
"Hey. Hey." Ginny planted her hands on her hips. "Where the bloody hell do you think you're going?"
"Lost my appetite."
"Like hell you did. You sit your smarmy Slytherin arse right back in that chair where it belongs."
"I can't." A faint flicker of pain shot through his expression as his gaze caught Harry's, disappearing so quickly he wasn't sure he'd seen it at all. "I really haven't got time for this, Ginger, must be going..."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "It's Ginny. If you're not careful, I'll make sure you remember it."
"And terrifying though that sounds I really have to leave. Now." He chewed his lip, staring at Harry for a moment as though about to speak.
"Draco—" Harry began quietly.
"Do enjoy yourselves while I'm gone. I'm sure you've got ever so much to talk about."
They watched him go in silence. When he'd finally vanished through the doors of the Great Hall, Ginny snorted. "Charming as a lead pipe, that one." She turned to Pansy. "Miracle you don't get lead poisoning drinking downriver from him."
"Er..." Pansy's face seemed to be trying to decide between the colors pink and crimson. It settled on a nice fuchsia. "I...guess so? He's...not so bad, really..."
Ginny shrugged. "Well, it was worth a shot, anyway. Harry, do yourself a favor and either sit him down and have it out with him or stuff rocks in his pockets and push him in the lake. I like the latter for simplicity, but that's just my opinion." She wandered off, hands in her pockets, likely to see what other love lives were lying around waiting to have havoc wreaked upon them.
Pansy stared after her. "Bye..."
"...what are you staring at her like that for?"
Her eyes snapped up to the ceiling of the Great Hall. "Who?"
"Ginny. And you're doing it again, stop that!"
Pansy hurriedly looked away to stare determinedly at her food. "Dunno what you're talking about."
"Yes you do, you look at her all funny, like...like you..." His eyes narrowed as something clicked into place. "You fancy her."
"You're mental," Pansy snapped, glaring into her tea. "Bugger off."
"You do! God, Draco said you were like us but I didn't think—Ginny?"
She bared her teeth. "Look. Git. If you've got a problem with me or who I fancy, you can just shove it up your Gryffindor arse for all it matters to me."
"But Ginny likes boys. Ginny likes a different bloody boy every week, I know, I'm the one that's got to listen to Ron go on about it all the time—"
Pansy slammed her hands down on the table. "Don't you dare talk about her like she's some kind of-- of tart!"
"Who's calling her a tart? She's practically my sister. And if you don't fancy her then what do you care what anyone says?"
"Just—" She crossed her arms indignantly. "Just looking out for her. You know. Being nice. Piss off."
"Yeah. You. Being nice. Bet that's it."
Pansy swiveled to face him. "Where do you get off judging me? I'm not getting myself buggered every night by some bloke who doesn't even talk to him. I'm not the one who can't wrap his insecure little brain around a problem if it's staring him in the eyes. I'm not the one who's scared shitless just because he doesn't want to think that maybe, just maybe it's not as perfect as he thought it was and he might not get his way for once!"
Harry's gaze dropped to the floor and he bit down hard on his lip to keep it from trembling. I am not going to cry, not in front of her, I won't let her see, I won't...
Anyone who was listening would have heard Pansy bite down on her tongue. A moment of awkward silence passed between them before she finally broke it. "...That...I didn't...I'm..." She sucked in a breath. "...Sorry..."
"Did—Did he say something?" Harry said in a strained voice through the hand he'd pressed over his mouth. "To you, I mean, did he say anything to you about—about—" He took a long, shuddering breath. "—because he won't—it's been weeks—I don't know what to do anymore..."
Pansy was looking increasingly uncomfortable. "Look, Pot—Harry. He just..." She ran a hand through her hair. "He's...complicated, you know? I'm...I'm sure it's fine."
"It's not, you're his friend, you know it's not, you said it's not and you can't take it back now." He forced himself to meet her eyes. "If you know anything...just...just please..."
"I..." For a moment she looked like she might tell him, might give him all the answers he wanted...
"I'm really not the person you should be discussing this with." Pansy stood, hovering awkwardly for a few brief seconds before turning to head for the exit.
"Parkinson! Don't—" He jumped up, trailing desperately after. "Please! You know he won't talk to me! Parkinson!"
She hesitated, turning to face him so quickly that he almost knocked her over. "I'm sorry, I can't, you just—" Seemingly without thought, she grabbed his hand and squeezed it tightly. "For what it's worth, he never talks about anything but you. That's all I can give you, and I hope it helps. It might make it worse. I don't know." She released his hand, backing away. "I have to go."
But she didn't wait. She didn't wait and she didn't stop and she didn't do any of the thirty other things he yelled after her until his throat was so sore he couldn't get the words out.
At the very least, she hadn't seen him cry.
(a further, further, further a/n: What, that first one wasn't long enough for you?
...right, look, I'm aware that that was not the most eventful chapter that ever was, but I'm sort of like trying to ease my way back into this stuff. Bear with me for a bit, I promise I'll be less earth-shatteringly dull next time. Really!)