A/N: Just a quick something I improvised while trying to figure out what to do with one of my other fics. It started out as a Harry/Ginny songficlet to "Dreaming with a Broken Heart", but somehow turned into more of an H/D fic as it went on.
With Roses in My Hand
Harry wakes up to the stale smell of rose-scented perfume lingering in the cool, dry air. He turns towards the warm body next to him, intending to bury his face in thick, red hair and inhale the intoxicating scent, but stops short when he sees Draco Malfoy's narrowed grey eyes instead.
"You dreamt of her again," Malfoy says shortly.
Harry angles his head away, buries it in his pillow. Here we go again.
"You said her name. Twice. No, three times." The sneer in Malfoy's voice is brittle with something Harry can't quite place, but he knows enough to not snap back. The last time he did, they both ended up leaving for work with bruises blooming on their faces and chests.
"It was a nightmare," Harry mumbles into his pillow.
There's silence, and Harry dares to hope the argument has passed for the morning. He exhales when he feels Malfoy's fingers, long and cool, threading through his hair, absently combing through the knots – an old habit.
"I'm over here, Potter."
Harry reluctantly shifts so that he's facing Malfoy. He keeps his eyes averted, afraid to see the emotion Malfoy's face always expresses better than his words.
"Sorry," he says.
Malfoy's fingers twist in his hair, tugging hard. Harry winces in pain, but says nothing when Malfoy removes his hand.
"Four years is a long time." Malfoy's voice is distant, hollow. Though he's lying close enough for Harry to see the faint shadow of stubble on his upper lip, Harry can feel a gaping void stretching between them, attesting to those four long years.
"It's not –"
"I gave up my life for you."
And I gave up mine for you. Sacrifice sounds romantic, but it's not. Harry's built a life on the remains of his sacrifices; he would know.
"D'you ever wonder," he says, careful to suppress his rising irritation, "what it would've been like if she hadn't found out?"
Malfoy lowers his eyelids, pale lashes brushing against paler skin. He's beautiful, and yet Harry feels nothing but a dull ache where desire should be. "No."
"Because you're the one who told her." Malfoy sounds angry, but Harry can tell his heart isn't into the accusation. Today's one of those days when neither of them has the energy for a yelling match. "You didn't have to. You could've left things the way they were and saved yourself all this stupid wondering."
"I loved her too much," Harry says baldly.
"Don't try fooling me with past tense, Potter."
Malfoy rolls over and out of bed. It's been a while since he cut his hair; when he sits up straight, it reaches his shoulders. Harry reaches up and wraps a strand of it around his index finger. It feels dead, lifeless. Malfoy pushes his hand away.
"I would've married," he says to the thinly carpeted floor of their flat. Harry nods. He's heard this before, several times. "There was a girl I could've fallen in love with… but you asked me to stay."
"And you regret doing it," Harry says. He wants desperately to catch another hour of sleep before he has to leave for the Ministry, but this is one conversation they both know can't be cut off short.
Malfoy doesn't respond. He never does.
Harry watches as Malfoy dresses, long fingers deftly doing up the buttons of his collared shirt. Not for the first time, he wonders when everything went pear-shaped. When he started secretly meeting Malfoy in dingy hotel rooms, when he confessed everything and watched Ginny walk away, when he realised he'd made a mistake… when he fell out of love with Malfoy. Or was he ever in love?
No, Harry thinks, he wasn't. It's not love when their life together is a struggle, a game of pretend that's lost its initial excitement. Every morning is a weary argument, every evening a haze of mindless sex, sweaty skin sliding together and moans that taste of coppery blood. This isn't love. This is a show put on by two tired actors, a faltering effort to convince the world they've got no regrets, because lowering the façade would mean giving up – and that's not an option for either of them.
Then again, maybe it's not the world they're trying to convince. Some mornings, when he and Malfoy get off to a particularly bad start, Harry can't help wondering if they're the ones who need to believe they didn't fuck up their lives beyond repair. They were only twenty when they met again – Malfoy drunk and stumbling out of the Leaky Cauldron, Harry doubting his decision to settle down immediately after the chaos of war, neither of them able to refuse the lure of breaking all the rules one last time. There was a spark of lust, a tiny, insignificant spark, but loneliness fueled it, coaxed artificial life into it until they believed it was real.
Now they're trapped in a firestorm of their mistakes with no way out but to stay in the eye of it and hope it passes soon. It's a false hope. They'll burn to ashes before they find a way out, because they'll never be rid of the loneliness that feeds the flames, not if they keep going like this.
But to keep going is all they can do. Malfoy's right – they gave up everything for each other.
Everything. God, they were stupid.
Wrapped up in the sheets, Harry doesn't move. "Yeah. All right."
Malfoy glances at Harry in the mirror. His expression is blank. It always is after he's had some time to adjust his appearance. "You can go back to your precious dreams now."
"I'm not tired," Harry lies.
A soft snort. "Right."
"I love you," Harry says to Malfoy's back.
Malfoy ignores him. Lately, the words they don't say to each other are the only ones that mean anything.
"Don't forget to buy roses on the way home." Harry points at the vase of wilting roses on his bedside table. "Ours have overstayed their welcome."
Both of them know the flower shop is on the way to the Ministry, but Harry always lets Malfoy have this one.
Sure enough, Malfoy barely hesitates before nodding. He opens the door, throws the briefest of glances over his shoulder. "Red?"
Harry smiles. "Yeah."
The roses are what keep them together these days. Malfoy likes to buy them for Harry; Harry likes to have them next to him. For a moment, when Harry takes the thorn-studded stems from Malfoy and their fingers brush, both of them imagine that the one they love is theirs.