Title: Salt in Our Wounds
Pairing: Harry Potter/ Draco Malfoy
Warnings: Dark, Coarse Language, Sexual Situations, Violence, Angst
Summary: Four years have passed since Harry Potter escaped from the dungeons of the Manor, and Draco Malfoy's life has been shattered to pieces. Two haunted young men are brought together by the twists of fate. But mending what was broken is not easy with a past like theirs.
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author's notes: So this is the much requested sequel to Behind the Green Door. It will probably grow into becoming quite a bit loner than that one, as I am now including Harry's Pov in addition to Draco's. I'll try to update at least twice a week, but it all depends on how busy my 'real' life is at the moment.
Freedom Hangs Like Heaven
The word escapes me in a pained breath as I slowly close my eyes. My raspy voice bounces off the walls, echoing in the empty room. The surreal sound mixed with the fatigue and pain causes my head to spin uncontrollably.
Moving is impossible. The excruciating pain has long since settled into a dull ache, covering the entire mass off my body. In truth, I doubt the pain has actually ceased at all. It's just that I have become unable to move, my body seemingly cramped in the same position for days, and the numbness of both my body and my mind has created the illusion of a pain-free state.
I do not even dare to try and move. I'm afraid it will start again, the pain, the screaming, the metallic taste of fresh blood filling my mouth. I lie on my stomach, my ribs digging into the cold stone floor, my shirt having slid up slightly to put my skin at the mercy of the freezing air.
How distant this room, this reality feels. So eerie and surreal. Yet so familiar.
Such irony that I should find myself here. It is not the same dungeon in which he was held captive. But a dungeon nonetheless. A dungeon with the same rusty black bars, the same myrtle door, and the same thick, damp air, filling my lungs and chilling me to the bone.
How long has it been, I wonder? Two weeks? A month? Three months? I seem to have lost all track of time since they threw me in here. All sense of time and direction has dissolved in the endless masses of curses, darkness, and that unstoppable pain.
In the beginning I could pretend. I could close my eyes and wish myself somewhere far away, somewhere where all of this was nothing but a horrible nightmare. But now, I can barely close my eyes anymore. I'm afraid that when I do, they will come back and wake me up, and it will all start all over again. There is no longer an alternative to my reality. No escape. At some point it has all faded away; my wishes, my dreams. My memories.
Father. Mother. Astoria. At one point thinking of them was almost too painful to bear. Now the memories of them have slipped away, becoming little more than ghosts of smoke and dust of a previous life.
Now I only have him left. The worst memory of all. The best thing of my life, and the worst. The one person I truly wanted to forget. The one memory I truly needed to erase.
"Harry? Harry! Are you even listening to me?"
I am startled out of my musings, and lower my copy of the Daily Prophet to peer over the pages. "Yes?"
Ginny sighs exasperatedly, stalking over to the table with two cups of tea in hand. "You seem to be in desperate need of a hearing aid," she mutters, setting on of the cups down in front of me, a drop of the hot liquid spilling over the edge.
"What were you saying?" I look up at Ginny, who purses her mouth with disparagement.
"It wasn't important," she answers, sighing as she takes a seat opposite me. She shakes her head softly, taking a small sip of her drink. "I just thought we could do something nice today, since it's my last day before term starts again." She looks up at me hopefully, flashing her eyelashes expectantly as she always does when she is asking me to do something I'd rather not.
I fight the urge to sigh. "What do you want to do?" I ask, though I fear I already know the answer.
"Well…" she begins fleetingly, fidgeting with the cup in her hands. "I thought we could take a trip to Hogsmeade, visit Honeyduke's, Zonko's, and The Three Broomsticks. You know, for old times sake?" Ginny looks at me pleadingly, and in spite of wanting to make her happy, she knows as well as I do that I will not do what she is asking.
"I'm sorry, Ginny," I state, shrugging nonchalantly, sipping my tea carefully, looking anywhere but directly at her. "I just don't feel up to that today. We can go down to the village if you like?" I offer, casting her a questioning glance over the edge of my cup.
Ginny sighs, evidently tired of this game. Still, she answers as she always does.
"Maybe some other time, then," she mumbles, avoiding to look me in the eye as she rises from her seat and exits the room. I sigh heavily. It's always the same thing. She asks me to accompany her to Hogsmeade or Diagon Alley, thinking that if she asks me enough times I will eventually agree. And I decline each time, making up one bad excuse after another to no actual benefit. Ginny knows I'm lying anyway.
She doesn't know why I don't want to go. In truth, neither do I. In the last three years I have barely set a foot in the Wizarding World, apart from occasional necessary visits to the Ministry or Gringotts.
I do what I can for the war. More than I actually should, according to Ginny. In fact, even as the war is ending it takes up most of my free time. One would think that would be enough to satisfy the Wizarding community. But no, they want me to pose for magazine covers, to attend all sorts of public meetings and festivities, and to just laugh and smile my Boy Hero-smile whenever someone stops me in the streets to shake my hand.
What else should be expected? After all, I am the boy who killed Voldemort.
But somehow, I had thought the publicity would stop at that. Now that Voldemort is dead and done with, the name Harry Potter should befit no special position. Nowadays I'm just searching for the remaining un-captured Death Eaters, along with a couple hundred of Aurors. I am no longer anyone special.
Why can't they get that into their thick skulls?
"I'll be back for Christmas," Ginny says, kissing me lightly on the lips before she grabs her suitcase and hurries out through the door. On the porch she stops, looking back at me and flashing a smile. I feel a slight ache at seeing her go, suspecting she will be too busy teaching to even remember me. I wish I could have the same freedom to do as I wish, live out my dreams the way I choose without anyone's interference.
The problem is, I don't know what my dreams are.
I follow Ginny with my gaze as she hurries down the hill, skipping down from the raised pavement and over the street. Only when I see her red hair disappear out of sight do I close the door and return to the empty rooms.
I'll miss her enormously during the two months she is gone. Her fiery nature brings a warmth into this house which, in spite of my exertions, still seems cold and lifeless. I hate it, I would have much rather stayed at Grimmauld Place, which after the war felt more like home than any other place ever has. Why Ginny simply refused to, I have no idea. But I don't ask too many questions. And she returns the favour.
After dressing properly in black trousers and a gray sweater, I pull on my coat and step into the drawing room. I open the Floo and reach for the small urn by the fire place. Grabbing a handful of Floo powder, I step into the fire place and take a deep breath.
"Ministry of Magic, London!"
The next thing I know, I'm stepping out of green flames into the familiar hall of the Ministry. Out of habit my feet take me swiftly to the door of the Auror Office. And just like each and every time before, my heart twitches a little at those words.
I don't need to be an Auror, I'm Harry bloody Potter, defeater of the darkest wizard who ever lived. When I applied to Auror training, they refused to admit me, and sent me directly here. No training needed, for what could any school teach me?
Wonderful. And so fucking frustrating.
"Good morning, Mr Potter," Janine smiles from behind her desk. The girl looks disapprovingly at the clock on the wall, and I sigh.
"Yes, I know I'm late," I mutter as I move past her desk towards the door to my office. As if someone would miss me at seven in the morning.
"Mr Jones is here to see you," she declares, pursing her lips. "He said it was urgent."
"Shit," I mutter beneath my breath, and Janine raises an eyebrow at me, trying not to look too smug. She knows precisely how much Jones annoys me.
I take a deep breath and collect myself for seeing his ugly hide so early in the morning. My hand already on the door handle, I turn back to my secretary. "Is there any coffee?"
Janine smiles self-satisfactory and nods. "On your desk. Black, large size. I brought a bagel, too, you should eat something once in a while."
I grin. "Thanks. You're the best."
She grins. "I know."
"Good morning, Harry," Jones voice cuts through the room as I enter.
"Morning, Robert," I mutter to the man currently standing behind my desk and examining my bookshelf. "Please, take a seat," I state, gesturing towards the chair on the other side of the desk, desperate to get him away from my things. The tall man obeys, stalking around the table and placing himself in the chair. I hang my coat on a hanger and sit down behind my desk.
"What can I do for you?" I ask Jones offhandedly, reaching for my coffee.
"I'll be direct," the dark-haired man answers, and for the first time I actually focus my attention on him. Jones has never been known to be straightforward.
"We think there are some remaining Death Eaters at the Malfoy Mansion."
I can't help the sudden cough that escapes me, causing me to blow into my coffee so that it flows over the rim of the cup and onto my hand. As I swear at the hot liquid and wipe my palm on a napkin, I look over at Jones in disbelief. "What?"
Before he has time to answer, I continue. "We've searched that place time and again. What makes you think they're back there now?"
Jones looks a little flustered, and he fidgets slightly in his chair. "Chief said that there had been some unusual magical activity in the area. Not much, but allarming because the place is supposed to be uninhabited."
I nod slowly, focusing on something in the distance. Yes, when I escaped from the Manor and contacted the Aurors, they were there within 12 hours. The place was completely deserted, no traces of Voldemort or the Malfoy family anywhere. We've visited the place several times after that, but as nothing has ever been found, the times have grown scarce. The last time was more than a year ago.
A chill goes through my body as I think of the place. Most times I try not to. But the memories overflow me every time I let my thoughts wander, and every time I am forced to go back to that house I feel like that seventeen year-old boy again. Reckless. Vulnerable. Impossibly naïve.
Hopelessly in love with Draco Malfoy.
"Chief Hunt thinks we should go there as soon as possible, this afternoon if Tonks manages to contact Octavius."
Jones' voice cuts through my reverie, and I am brutally shook back into reality. "Y-yeah, you're right," I state, clearing my throat and cursing my voice for shaking. "If there truly is something there, we'll probably need the whole team."
"Indeed," Jones answers, rising from his chair. "I'll keep you posted, but be prepared for that we might leave any minute."
I only nod, watching the other man as he exits the room. As the door slams shut, I can only sigh and lean back into my chair.
Somehow, even after all the time that has passed since I escaped from the Manor, the memories still haunt me like it was only yesterday. Of course, things have changed in the past four years.
I did not want to believe it the first time I saw the headlines; 'Massive Muggle slaughter. Twenty-five brutally murdered. Young Malfoy identified by interfering Aurors.'
Along the way, it only kept getting worse. I have to witness the result of his Imperiuses and tortures in wounded and eternally scarred people each day. The worst are the Muggles, petrified and hysterical, screaming and shouting about strangely dressed men with sticks, appearing out of thin air, and then the pain… Of course, there are not many of those. Most of the Muggles aren't left to live for the Aurors to find them.
And still, even knowing this, I keep searching for him. Hoping perhaps to find that it isn't true, that he never participated in any of it, that he's innocent… Even as I know that any such thoughts are nothing beyond a hopeless illusion.
I promised Draco I would do my all to save him, as he saved me. And if I ever do find him, I will. Because while I'll never be able to forgive him, he did save my life. And as long as I owe him that, I am bound to him.
If I save him, I can finally set myself free. I can put the past behind me.
I can finally let go.
End of part I