I wrote this for H/D Smoochfest, which is generally known as a happy, fluffy, cuddly fest and therefore requires me to write the most angsty fics possible. Last year I killed Draco and this time I... well, you'll see. At least it ends well, right? :D
I woke instantly, horribly, a feeling reminiscent of the days when the Dark Lord had strolled casually through the Manor as if he owned it. I remember during that time, frequently sitting bolt upright with a cry on my lips, hands clutching my blankets with eyes darting wildly in the darkness, seeking something that may or may not have been there moments before.
There was no screaming now, thankfully, but I flung out a hand, groping for solace, seeking the only thing that had ever made the nightmares retreat. My questing fingers encountered nothing but cold linen and my heart constricted with dread even as something ugly slithered through my brain, as cold and insidious as the snake that had once coiled in the lap of a mad wizard.
Nausea followed the twist of fear and I tore away the blankets, kicking my feet free as I stumbled from the bed and entered the bathroom in a blind rush. The way was familiar, thankfully, and the contents of my stomach landed where they should, splashing into the toilet bowl rather than upon the cold tiles of the floor.
Bloody hell, I thought as I ran a shaking hand through my hair and then turned on the tap in order to rinse out my mouth, How much did I fucking drink last night?
Too much was the obvious answer as I vomited again. I wondered if I would be able to stop long enough to locate a hangover potion. My head felt ready to split open and expel my brain tissue with every heave of my stomach.
After far too many minutes, I was able to stagger from the bathroom to seek out the kitchen, and the hangover remedy that I knew resided in the cupboard closest the pantry. For the dozenth time, I cursed myself for not moving them to the bathroom. Why could I never remember to do it when I was sober?
My steps faltered when I walked through the bedroom. The bed was empty. Not only that, but the room itself seemed empty. Another spasm of nausea shook me and I pushed my thoughts away from that subject and focussed on the kitchen. Once I could think without cringing, I would process what the empty bed meant. Until then it was all I could do to put one foot before the other. The daylight spilling through the windows was agony; of course it would be a bright and cheerful day outside.
"Sunshine in hell," I muttered.
The potion was located after a bit of frantic shuffling of bottles and vials. I had half-feared it would have been hidden or destroyed in a fit of anger, but in truth that was more my style than…
Bracing myself, I pulled the cork and chugged the potion. The remedy was almost worse than the malady. Almost. I shuddered at the taste and counted to seven whilst trying to keep the contents inside my already-roiling stomach. When I reached seven, heat exploded through my veins. I dropped the vial and held the countertop with both hands, shaking from the aftereffects. The potion always felt like it literally burnedthe alcohol remnants from my bloodstream.
I sat down at the kitchen table and considered preparing a cup of tea. My headache slowly ebbed, leaving an unfortunate clarity behind. My eyes slid over the surfaces of the kitchen, noticing that a number of things were missing. My nausea had faded, but it sought to return with a vengeance as something resembling lead seemed to take up residence in the pit of my belly.
What had I done last night? What had I said? I vaguely recalled leaving the bar, utterly smashed. We had been celebrating—it seemed we were always celebrating something, Blaise, Pansy, and I, although such occasions were more excuses to drink and act like the world was ours than actual events of joy—we had been celebrating the engagement of Blaise's mother to groom number… whatever. The memory brought a ghost of a smile to my lips.
It faded when I remembered what had come after. I had been too pissed to Apparate. I should have taken the Floo, but instead I had connived a broom from someone… I shut my eyes and rubbed a hand over my hair, still hopelessly tangled from the wind and rain. Why had I done that?
The door had been locked. In my miserable state, I had barely been able to locate my wand; no way in hell could I have managed the complicated Locking Charms. I'd got the brilliant idea to enter through a window, smashing the glass with a Levitated rock.
I glanced towards the living room and wondered if the window was still broken or if someone had repaired it.
Someone who was no longer here.
The cold fist squeezed my heart and I shot to my feet, dreading what I would see, but needing to know. I stormed into the other room, angry words on my lips, hoping he was there, praying I had merely overlooked him. I was ready to reprise the shouting we had done the night before, seeking to lessen the panic that threatened to overwhelm me.
He was not there. Neither were most of his things, a horrible truth I had tried to ignore on my first pass through the room. I groped blindly for the sofa and sat down, scanning the room whilst casting my mind back to our argument. We had fought. Of course we had fought, but wealways fought. It's what we did. It's who we were, Harry and I.
This fight, however, had been particularly ugly. He had shouted at me for breaking the window. I glanced at it; the panes had been repaired, good as new. He must have done it, although I did not recall that bit. I had shouted back, accusing him of intentionally placing too many Locking Charms on the door and trying to keep me out.
I winced, recalling his face. "That's rich," he had said, "when I've been doing everything in my power to keep you in."
"Nothing is stopping you from coming with me," I'd returned, throwing the broom aside and gearing up for the argument, regardless of how many times we had covered the same ground.
"You know why I don't! Why do you have to go running to them every time they crook their fingers?"
"They're my friends!" My voice had risen to a shout. I winced now to remember it. Why did I always find it necessary to scream at him? If only I could shut up he might not be so easy to provoke. I sank back into the couch and rubbed my eyes. I knew why I always behaved like a prick. Because I was fucked up. I wanted his attention, but I also wanted to spurn him to show that I did not need it, that I did not need him.
He had never left before. My stomach roiled and I took several deep breaths. He would be back, I told myself. He would.
I knew I should go back to bed and sleep away the last vestiges of my hangover, but I could not summon the energy to rise. I closed my eyes and tried to think about nothing.
"Once again you've made enough bloody noise to wake the neighbours." His tone was scathing. He stood in the doorway with arms crossed over his bare chest, looking unbearably self-righteous.
I snorted and opened the pantry door. Where the hell had I put that bottle of Firewhiskey? My buzz was starting to wear off in the face of his rage. "I think your shouting is more of a danger of waking the neighbours than my window breaking. AND I DON'T CARE ABOUT THE NEIGHBORS!" I enjoyed shouting the last bit and smirked to myself as I pushed aside a bag of something that might have been onions.
"I'm beginning to think you don't care about anyone," he snapped.
"Oh, you would think that, Mr Pot-Kettle." I shoved aside a jar of pickled something a bit too hard. It slipped off the shelf and smashed on the floor.
"What is that supposed to mean?"
I glanced over my shoulder. I could tell he was itching to cast a Reparo and clean up the mess, but his wand was nowhere in evidence. I could have done it myself, but in my current state it would probably do more harm than good.
"It means," I stated in my most superior tone, "that all you care about is work. Work, work, work, that's all you do."
"I have a job," he growled. "It's important."
"'Look at me,'" I mocked, leaving the pantry and heading for a cupboard near the sink, "'my job is so important that I must spend all my time at it and neglect everything else, just in case someone forgets I am the Saviour of the whole wide world'."
"That's not fucking true. Just because I don't spent every waking moment planning my next party or napping so I'll have the energy to stay up all night getting drunk with my useless, lazy friends—"
I gasped in faux shock. "You just called Granger and the Weasel useless and lazy? I'm owling them right now."
"I was talking about your stupid friends, you arse. None of you contribute a jot to society, instead you sit around lamenting about how hard things are and how no one likes you and they don't understand how difficult your miserable lives are." He picked up my mocking tone and flung it back to me with just the right inflection to fan my annoyance into full-blown anger.
I snatched a glass from the countertop and hurled it. It shattered on the wall next to him. He straightened in surprise, arms uncrossing as his eyes widened. "It is hard, you bastard. You think I can just waltz into a respectable wizarding establishment and ask for a job with this on my arm?" I tore at my shirt sleeve and ripped it upwards. The buttons tore away and plinked across the floor. My nails scraped across the darkened scar of the Dark Mark and I felt a hot flare of satisfaction as he winced and looked away.
My anger burned at the gesture. I knew he hated my Dark Mark. He hated it almost as much as did the pretentious fuckwits who avoided me on the street, or jostled roughly into me and called me "scum" under their breaths, or those that pointed fingers and shot me disapproving glares as they leaned down to whisper to their wide-eyed children.
I hated it also, but that made it no easier to bear whenever Harry flinched away or avoided looking at it, because it was a part of me, despised or not.
"You haven't even tried," he muttered.
"Fuck you," I snarled, because he was right.
I woke up with my own angry words echoing through my memory. The shadows were longer and my neck ached from the awkward position in which I'd fallen asleep. The emptiness of the flat seemed to mock me as I got to my feet.
My headache was back, stabbing behind my eyes as though sent by Harry to torment me. I walked to the bathroom and turned on the shower with a flick of my wand. I stripped and eased under the hot spray, letting it pound over my head and sluice down over my skin. I shook off memories of us there, hands splayed against the cold tiles, his black hair wet and gleaming, our soap-slicked skin and gasping breaths…
I groaned and thought of nothing as I shampooed my hair and then scrubbed away the residual scent of the club, of Pansy's cloying perfume and the cologne of the last man I had danced with. It seemed forever ago.
My stomach growled when I exited and dried myself. Normally Harry would have cooked something by now, and forced me to eat it whilst listening to my complaints or the reiteration of Pansy's fourth-hand gossip. He always pretended interest even though it likely bored him witless. Despite the fact that we were together, we had little in common.
I sighed at the thought. What did we have, really, other than brilliant sex? We had separate friends, different interests, and lives that seldom intersected outside of our own flat. It was inevitable we wouldn't last. My friends mentioned it often enough that it seemed an irrefutable fact.
I put on my clothes and Flooed to one of our favourite eateries, possibly hoping he would be there. He wasn't, and I told myself I was not disappointed.
He shot me a glare and left the kitchen. It was obvious he wanted to say more and it was apparent even in my inebriated state that this argument had been building for a long time. Tension had been growing between us, every time Harry came home late from yet another extended mission, and every time I left to meet my friends.
I was drunk enough to follow, common sense having abandoned me several glasses earlier.
"Is that what you want?" I demanded, shouting at his back as he headed towards the bedroom. "Do you want me to get a stupid job that keeps me away from home for days on end? And when I am in town I will stay so late at the office that I cannot do anything but fall into bed and sleep the moment I get home?"
Harry made a scoffing noise as he entered the bedroom, not bothering to turn around. "As if you even notice what time I get home. Most of the time you aren't even here, since you spend three to five nights a week out clubbing with your friends."
My fists clenched. He had no bloody idea what it was like, waiting up, wondering if he would even come home, imagining horrible scenarios like a stray spell or an unforeseen circumstance bringing him down. I had always been susceptible to nightmares and the Voldemort years had honed my overactive imagination into portents of doom that led to genuine panic attacks. I had begun going out more and more due to my inability to sleep. Alcohol kept the worry at a safe level.
Eventually I had almost forgotten to worry at all.
I waved away the waiter's suggestion of wine, not ready to imbibe, and vaguely sickened at the thought of any sort of alcohol.
I ate listlessly, my appetite waning after a few bites. I left some coins on the table and Flooed home. I had spent time alone there before, Merlin knew, but for some reason it had never seemed so empty. Perhaps it had only been the expectation of Harry's eventual return that had filled the open spaces.
Then again, there had never been so many open spaces. I frowned when I took stock of the things he had taken. Two blue vases were missing from the mantle, a red and gold pillow from the couch, two photos of Teddy—I felt a pang when I saw the photo of us still in its place—and a half-dead fern that Longbottom had given him as a housewarming gift.
I wandered into the bedroom. Nearly all of his clothing was gone. Only the things he seldom wore remained, probably forgotten in the heat of his anger. A set of dress robes hung at the back of the wardrobe and one lone t-shirt lay at the foot of the bed. I picked it up and folded it before placing it back in his empty drawer.
The desk was a surprise. We had picked it out together, an impulse buy when we had been walking (and arguing) in Eventu Alley after I had dragged him there in search of a cobbler that Blaise had mentioned. The desk had been stood in a window, covered in kitsch and a horrific vase filled with faux flowers, but it had caught Harry's eye. I had reluctantly entered the store and agreed that the desk would look grand in our bedroom. He had brought it home and installed it next to the bed, then proceeded to cover it in case files and parchment and quills—his oasis of mess in the midst of order. I frequently complained about it being a cluttered nightmare, especially when the clutter spilled onto the floor and made its way towards the bed.
He had always smiled and reshuffled the stacks, or packed things away in the drawers before distracting me with kisses or a blowjob. I sat in the desk chair and expelled a frustrated breath. I missed his mouth, even when it was yelling at me. Where the hell was he?
I opened a drawer and was not surprised to find it empty. The top was no longer cluttered, but it seemed barren and cold without the debris that normally decorated it.
I shut the drawer with a bang and a voice rang from the other room. Pansy.
"Still alive after last night?" she asked with a smirk when I exited the bedroom. She frowned. "Why does it look different in here?"
"Probably because Harry took the bookshelf when he left," I said, not really registering it until I said the words aloud. It had been a short unit, filled with all the books Granger had given to him. He had never cracked the covers of most of them.
Pansy blinked at me. "He left?"
I shrugged, striving for casual.
"He left you?"
I glared at her.
"That… That bastard!" Her tone rang with more amazement than anger and I frowned, wondering at her surprise. She and Blaise had been telling me for months that it would never work out between us. Not in so many words, of course, but with innuendo and subtle digs.
I made a noncommittal noise and adjusted the flowers in the vase on the sideboard. The vase was Harry's; either he hadn't wanted it or had forgotten it belonged to him. Probably the latter.
"Well," she said. "Well, then, you need to come out with us so that we can… can…" She waited, obviously hoping I would fill in the empty spaces. Was I angry? I supposed I was somewhere beneath the hollow disbelief.
"I don't feel like going out," I said.
"I drank a rather large quantity last night, obviously. I just want to sleep. I am fine."
She looked dubious and took a step towards me, possibly intent on folding me into a sympathetic embrace. I wanted none of it. I scowled and stepped away. "You are right, however, Potter is a right bastard. I will appreciate you and Blaise having a drink for me and cursing his name. Not literally, mind you, as I don't need either of you arrested."
She brightened at my words and nodded. "Very well. So long as you aren't moping. We all knew…" She trailed off at my warning look and nodded curtly. "A bastard. I'll see you tomorrow?"
"Yes, fine," I said and waved her away, knowing any other response would generate a protest.
When Pansy finally left I went to the bedroom, disrobed, and crawled into bed. I curled around the pillow and breathed in Harry's lingering scent.
Fuck, I thought as I shut my eyes and willed myself to sleep.