Disclaimer: I own nothing except my ideas, plot, and characterization. JKR owns the rest.
A/N: A little different from me, I know, but I'm writing outside my OTP for a Cherry-Fest on LJ and decided to take a practice step to build my confidence. Anyway, thanks to redheadfaerie (Lady Lynn) for beta-ing this little oneshot so fast. Anyway, back to writing Broken for me. :) Happy reading! Did I mention that I don't condone drinking? No? Mmkay, I don't.
I hang my coat up in the first bar
There is no peace that I've found so far
The laughter penetrates my silence
As drunken men find flaws in science
Set The Fire to the Third Bar: Snow Patrol
It's day five, and here I am.
Wow. This is really most unbecoming.
I'm supposed to be "Pansy Parkinson", the respectable pure-blooded woman who would never touch anything that wasn't Elf-wine. I'm not supposed to be here, in this place, and with these people. I'm supposed to be the level-headed witch who handles her problems in an appropriate manner; who looks at all sides of the situation, makes a decision based on how it will affect me in the future, and moves on. I'm not supposed to break. I'm supposed to believe that everything will work itself out in the end.
Well, fuck that. Fuck it all straight to fucking hell.
For the fifth night in a row this week, I'm perched on a stool at an empty pub in a rather seedy part of Muggle London. The only sounds that I can hear are the sounds of the barmaid drying cleaned glasses and setting them back on their shelves, and the faint music coming out of the jukebox. I don't recognize the song that is playing now. Not that I would.
It just might have something to do with the glass of amber liquid swirling around between my clenched hands. Merlin, how many have I had tonight? I lost count after the inebriation set in. Seeing that I've gained a pretty high tolerance lately, this was after quite a few drinks. Maybe six. Or seven. Eight? Or maybe nine?
Since when have I acquired a taste for alcohol? I can't tell you what I'm drinking at the moment. I asked the barmaid for the strongest drink that she had and this was what was given to me. I love it. It makes my teeth sting, my throat burn, my stomach gurgle, and my whole body tingle, but I love it.
This is my last resort escape from my wretched existence. For a few hours in the night, the alcohol makes me numb. I've always thought that was an impossible feat. I'm a lot of things, but numb is not one of them.
Maybe it's all of those things that I am that's led me to be the person that I'm not. Maybe it's my heart aching with love that makes me such a lonely person. Maybe it's my cunning nature that makes me feel like a fool. Maybe it's my success with sarcasm that's made me a legitimate failure. Maybe it's my behaviour and my mind that's made such a stupid fool.
Maybe that's why I'm here.
"The pub is closing in fifteen minutes, Miss," is my warning from the barmaid. I'm not sure what her name is, so I'll call her Miss Barmaid. They change from night-to-night and even if I ever felt I should, I'm never able to acquaint myself with them.
Somehow in my foggy daze, I manage to give her a nod. I understand.
I rotate the bottom of my glass in a circle, watching the brown liquid swish back and forth in the bottom of the glass. If I look close enough, I can see my reflection staring back at me.
Sometimes I feel like I'm in the bottom of that glass, begging for someone to rescue me. To lift me out of this pool of depression that I seem to be drowning in. I continue to stare. I'm sure the barmaid thinks it must be a pretty bloody interesting looking glass from the intense stare I'm giving it. She must think that I'm crazy.
Well, I don't give a damn what she thinks of me. I don't give a damn at all. I'm so sick and tired of giving a damn about what my fake friends think, what my uptight family thinks, what the people I work with think, what random people passing me in Diagon Alley think, what this Muggle barmaid thinks. These people don't see what I go through every day. They know nothing about the life I've lived. They don't know me. They'll never know me.
Hell, I don't know me.
I don't think that I want to know me.
And, maybe that's why I'm here.
Quickly, I grow tired of staring at shot glass number Merlin knows what, and use what little strength I have left in my unsteady arm and toss the alcohol down my throat. By now, the stinging taste of the drink has faded. I sit the glass down and wipe my mouth on my white napkin. I may be completely pissed and completely out of my mind, but I still have class. Never forget that.
I look around once again. By now I'm seeing everything in double. There's this haze that seems to act as a curtain around the corners of my eyes. The room is pitch black, except for a few neon lights. The wooden dance floor is now completely empty. The tables are clear, with chairs turned upside down resting on top of them. I'm the only one sitting at this pub, now.
I am alone.
Why doesn't that surprise me?
They say there is a difference between being lonely and alone. They say that we're never alone. We may be lonely, but we're never alone.
I say that that's bollocks.
In my life, there have been so many people; all with selfish empty souls. They take and take and take some more, even when they know that I have nothing left to give. They stay and wait until I get something else, just so they can take it from me. And I've let them, because of my status and because I didn't want to be alone. If you ask me, that's about the same as being alone. Therefore, I have been lonely and alone. In my mind, there is no difference.
I have a boyfriend, but he's never around. Our relationship is new and odd and completely unexpected. He hasn't been taken away, but it's only a matter of time, I think. I'll force him away, someone else will take him away, or he'll run away. I'm thinking the latter. The problem isn't him. The problem isn't even me. I don't know what the problem is. I don't want him to go, but it seems inevitable.
He's an Auror. He's always working and travelling. I try to understand, but being the alone and lonely person that I am, I constantly ache for the love and attention it seems I've never been meant to receive.
He's supposed to come home sometime soon from the mission that's kept him away for over six months. He doesn't know that I've become a mess. He doesn't know where my loneliness and desperation and emptiness have led me. He doesn't know the woman that I've become. And I don't know what he's going to do when he sees what he's coming home to.
I don't care.
Well, I do, occasionally. It's during those few hours of the day that I'm not sleeping or throbbing all over from my latest hangover. It's when I'm sober.
Of course, he's going to notice a difference right away. When he left, I was a fiery black-haired witch, a social butterfly, and an exciting person. I had my issues—I've always had my issues—but I wasn't quite like this. Our issues are what brought us together. He was kind of like me when I met him. Depressed, empty, and completely cut off from his friends and society. I was the sharp and witty woman who brought him back to life. I was the pillar he sank into those nights when he was depressed about the people that he'd lost along the way. So many people. I told him that it was better to face your demons instead of chasing them down with alcohol.
What a walking contradiction I've become.
I wonder if he'll be disappointed with me. I wonder if he'll be angry. I wonder if he'll understand why I'm here, because I sure as hell don't. I wonder if he'll sit down with me and let me be the weak one for once and play the strong pillar that I need to sink into every once in awhile.
I wonder if he will love me.
I'd understand if he didn't. I don't even love me anymore.
I lay my head down on the soft, cool bar.
Merlin, I'm so tired.
I'm tired of dealing. I'm tired of trying to force my own emotions down just to please everyone else. I'm tired of putting on the same fake smile just to make people think that I'm so strong. I'm tired of letting everyone take pieces of me. I'm tired of ignoring the fact that I feel so damn hollow. I'm tired of being the respectable witch. I'm tired of being the object of my family's scorn, tired of their demands, tired of being punished for my old sins and choices. I'm tired of being left behind, tired of being ignored, tired of—well, I'm just tired.
Alcohol seems to be my only friend, as of now.
I'm too young for this. I'm only 24 years old. I have a steady job and a lot of money; I've got some friends who leech off me whenever they can, but that's not new. I'm not married, but I have a boyfriend. I should be happier than I am now.
Why do I feel like such a failure?
Someone needs to sit down with the entity that put us on this earth and talk to them about the messes they allow us to get ourselves into. I think at the next meeting, someone should bring up the whole "clean slate" proposal. If they agree, I want one first.
But do I want to start over with what I have? Do I want to lose all of my accomplishments?
I do have some. Not many, but enough.
I sigh wearily.
Since when did drinking make me think so damn much?
I've never been the analytical type. I was never the thinker. I was never the kind of witch that said, "What if this, what if that?" Alcohol is a depressant that tends to suspend all thoughts and emotions. Well, apparently, it's not working for me….
So maybe that's why I'm here.
People always say that it's the tough things in life that makes you stronger.
Well, I should be the strongest person on Earth.
But, I don't want a pity party. I don't want to go into details about the abuse and neglect that I've experienced during my life. I don't want to go into details about my failed relationships, the men who have sucked the life out of me, and I don't want to talk about how I'm to blame for that, either. I don't want to discuss the people I've lost, or the failed friendships along the way. I don't want to talk about the scrutiny I've been under since before I could perform magic. I don't want to talk about all the wrong I've done while at school. I don't want to talk about anything.
I'd rather no one know about most of it. My boyfriend doesn't even know half of what I've been through. I've stifled it inside all of my life. I've hid it under blankets and blankets of lies and artificial happiness. I've run from it, but it's caught up with me. I'm not sure when the descent started. I can't blame it on a bad day or even a bad week. I think I just woke up one morning and remembered all the things I wanted to forget, and I was lost. With the amount of time that I've spent alone, I'm not too surprised. I just don't want to rehash it.
Maybe that's why I'm here.
"Miss, I'm closing now," the barmaid speaks up again. I raise my head to look up at her. Her sympathetic eyes gaze into mine. "I'm sorry to do this, but you're going to have to find somewhere else to go. I can call a taxi if you want me to…."
I scoot my heavy-with-alcohol body off the stool and, holding onto the bar, I steady my balance. This was a routine thing for me. I reach inside my purse, grab a few notes to pay for my night of drinking, and slide them over to Miss Barmaid.
"Don't worry about me," I slur to her. "I'll get home somehow."
"Are you sure, Miss?" she asks. Is she actually concerned? "You can't just walk around London, and you certainly don't need to be driving. Why don't you let me get you a ride home?"
The door chimes rang, indicating someone had walked in. "There's no need to do that," I hear a familiar voice say, "I can take care of her."
"Who are you?" the Muggle barmaid asks, with a sharp inflection to her voice.
She probably thinks this man is some random maniac that preys on drunken women by posing as their boyfriends so that he can take them home and rape them…or something.
"I'm her boyfriend," the other voice responds.
Even in my intoxicated state of mind, I know that voice.
"Harry?" I ask, my voice trembling.
Oh Merlin, he's back.
I was hoping that he'd wait and catch me at home when I'm sober.
Things never work out the way that I want them to.
I lean against the bar, feeling the usual wave of nausea overtaking me. I soon feel two strong arms envelop me and I smell that familiar scent. I've missed him. More than I ever thought
"Pansy, what are you doing here?" I hear him ask me.
If he only knew that I'd been pondering the same thing for the last five nights this week.
I shrug my shoulders. That's all that I can think to do.
"I've been looking for you all night. I went to Hermione and Draco's house because you told me in your last letter that you'd seen them last week, but they told me that they hadn't seen you in well over a month." he scolds me in a tired whisper. "Why did you lie to me?"
"I don't know." That's all that I can think of to say. I don't know why I lied. I don't know anything anymore.
The worry in his voice is evident with each word that comes out of his mouth. "I never expected you to be in a place like this, but something told me that I had to look. Don't do that anymore, okay?" I feel him nestle his nose in my dark hair. I'm pretty sure that I smell horrid.
Leaning my head back against his chest, I close my eyes. "I won't."
"We've gotta get you home," I hear him tell me. The next thing I know, my legs are being wrapped around his waist and I'm being carried out the pub. My heels are in his hand and I'm sure that my skirt is high on my thighs. I know I look awful. Putting my arms around his neck, I know I have to be heavy from all the alcohol I have consumed tonight…and every night this week and last week and the week before that, but somehow he's able to carry me out to the alley next to the pub.
There's a familiar pull of Apparition that leaves me more nauseated than before.
"I've got to set you down for a second so I can open the door," he lets me know. I feel my bare feet touching the ground and I groan, leaning against a familiar brick wall. I hear him open the door and then he turns to me and scoops me up again. "Everything is going to be fine, Pans," he comforts in his soft, calm voice. "Let's get you out of those stuffy clothes, and into bed. Then tomorrow, we're going to talk about this. Is that okay?"
Fighting my last round with consciousness, I nod my head.
"Good," he responds as he carries me through the door. He kicks it shut and I wince. "You scared the hell out of me tonight. I was afraid something had happened to you. Merlin, I have to call Hermione to get her to call off the search party…."
He might have said a few more lecturing words, but I'm too far gone to remember.
The next thing I know, I'm lying in his warm, comfortable bed in one of his old, horrid Quidditch shirt. I'm nestled under the covers and thanks to a hangover potion that he shoved down my throat, I feel a little more lucid and better. I feel Harry's warm, comforting arms holding onto me like his life depends on it; like I'll get away from him if he loosens up his hold.
This time, instead of being alone, there's someone lying asleep next to me. Someone I love. Someone who possibly loves me. Someone who needs me. Someone I need. Someone who is as much there for me as I am for him.
After spending the last five nights wondering why I was in that pub, I never figured it out. But in never figuring it out, I learned some things about myself. I learned that maybe I'm not as alone or as lonely as I thought. I learned that Harry's not like everyone else; that he won't take, take, take and not give, give, give. I learned that maybe I should be more honest with him, and with myself. I learned that I have a problem, and that I need help. I learned that I need to figure out how and why I allowed myself to sink so far. I learned that I can't ignore everything in hopes that it will disappear.
And in learning all of that, I finally know something.
I may not know why I spent my nights there, but I think I know why I'm here.