Title: To See, To Speak
Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling and associates own these characters. I am writing this story for fun and not profit.
Warnings: Heavy angst, present tense, issues of disability (Harry is deaf), established relationship.
Summary: All Draco wants is things back the way they used to be, when Harry could hear his name being shouted, or the knocks of his friends at the door, or the spells he cast.
Author's Notes: This was written at the request of phonixfeder, who asked for a story where Harry is disabled and he and Draco are having trouble dealing with it, with a happy ending.
To See, To Speak
All Draco wants is things back the way they used to be, when Harry could hear his name being shouted, or the knocks of his friends at the door, or the spells he cast.
Before the time when Draco had to step in front of Harry and signal to him that he was calling him, or answer the door himself, or quell the small fires that Harry sets when he forgets to keep his spells nonverbal and pronounces the incantations wrong. Before he had to write everything out and ignore Harry's miserable, furious expression. Before they spent so much time sitting side-by-side on the couch with books, because it's the only amusement that both of them can enjoy in an equal way now.
Before the curse that deafened Harry in the middle of a battle.
Harry spends a lot of time studying the books that his friend Granger brings him. Draco caught a glimpse of them once, and decided he didn't want to know any more about them. They all have the word Deaf in the titles, and Harry threw them across the room the first time Granger wrote a note calling him that. Draco wants to keep that clear, burning anger, that determination to piss off the world that insists on calling Harry by such an insulting word.
He wants to talk to Harry, and he can't do that when Harry holds the book up in front of his face and cuts off any way Draco can get his attention. Of course, even when Draco has it, he doesn't know what he wants to do with it. Half the time he ends up walking away and making dinner himself, or making the excuses to whoever's in the fireplace, or cleaning up the latest mess that Harry's Kneazle kitten has vomited on the floor, because Harry can't understand his crude hand gestures.
And writing everything out takes so much time, and hurts Draco's wrist, and makes him think about the way Harry's crippled each and every moment of the day.
So Harry sits with the book up in front of his eyes, and Draco moves around him in a world of silence, as if that curse had taken both of them on the same day.
Harry can't hear Draco anymore when they make love.
Draco can look into his face and see the expression in his eyes, still, that subtle widening they always take on when Draco takes him into his mouth. He can hear those harsh, almost metallic wails that warble out of Harry's throat now that he has no idea how his voice sounds to other people anymore. He can feel Harry's skin, subtle and salty, beneath his fingers and the way it dents when he grips.
But Harry kept pulling out of Draco the one time Draco bottomed last week, because he can't hear Draco's grunts and breathy sounds anymore and is terrified that he'll hurt him. In the end, they had to make love face-to-face, with Draco constantly touching Harry's face and catching his eye and reassuring him that way.
It was exhausting. Draco fell asleep with one arm over Harry's shoulders and the thought that while silence might lower Harry's inhibitions in one way-he's always been shy of being too noisy-it would make him more uptight and concerned during the one activity they share together that's always relaxed him.
So much they've lost.
Draco hopes at first that Harry's Quidditch skills won't be affected, that flying is something they can still share together. Why not? Harry has always been able to spot the Snitch at a distance, glasses or not. And he's not blind. He seems to notice more now than he ever did before, without his ears to distract him.
But it only takes one Bludger passing centimeters from Harry's head before he flinches or ducks to convince Draco how dangerous this is. Harry can't hear the balls coming, or the shouts of his teammates, or the way that the broom's bristles strain when he's executing a particularly tight and dangerous turn. Hell, he wouldn't be able to hear someone casting an illegal spell at him, or the whistle that signals the end of the game.
Draco ends up on the ground, head tilted back to watch Harry soaring up in a single straight line and diving back down, and then leaping to his feet because he thinks Harry's going to crash on the pitch. Harry pulls up in time, but he hesitates when he does so, head turning from side to side, and Draco closes his eyes and is nearly sick like the kitten at the thought of all the things that might happen when he isn't there to watch.
He doesn't suggest they play Quidditch again, and Harry doesn't ask.
Harry held off on naming the kitten, saying that he wanted to choose the perfect name, and didn't have an idea yet. That was the day before he went out and got cursed, and now Draco hasn't had the heart to ask him if he's come up with one. He just calls the nasty, pouncing thing "the kitten" in his mind, and fills its bowl when it mews for food and Harry doesn't come.
He walks around the corner one day, about a month after Harry got cursed, and finds the kitten curled up and purring on Harry's chest as Harry lies on the couch. Draco can hear the purring from all the way across the drawing room. He winces and catches Harry's eye, and Harry's face falls. Draco goes up the stairs, thinking about the way Harry will never hear that sound, how he might never have heard it, since they had the little monster for all of three days before things changed.
Only later does it occur to him that Harry was touching the kitten from both above and below, through his hand on its fur and the way it rested on his chest. Only later does he think that Harry might have felt it purring.
Draco comes to a stop and stares. Frankly, it's a little weird, to see Harry standing in front of the kitchen table gesturing with his hands in the air, as if he's trying to learn wandless magic.
But Harry only nods at him and keeps gesturing. Draco watches him trace circles and flick his fingers up in random patterns and motion forwards from his chin as though he's trying to throw a miniature fireball at someone.
Draco opens his mouth to ask what's going on, remembers why he can't, and moves on. Harry doesn't look up when he rattles pans getting food ready, doesn't turn around until Draco taps his shoulder, and jumps when Draco does touch him.
But when he turns, there's a sweet smile on his face that needs no translation. Draco smiles back in spite of himself, and their silent dinner is a meal with more savor than usual.
I'm learning sign language.
Draco blinks at the written message, then at Harry. Harry sits back from the table and the small strip of parchment he's put in front of Draco, his eyes intense, his head nodding as though he thinks he needs to reinforce his message that way.
Draco nods back. But he knows the nod is slow and his forehead is wrinkled. He wonders how he feels about this. Isn't sign language something deaf Muggles use to communicate? He recalls Granger saying something about it, and maybe that's what the books she lent Harry are about. It would explain why Harry was concentrating on them so intently. It would explain the random gestures he made in the air the other day. It would explain lots of things, really, and Draco feels a tiny bit stupid for not noticing it before.
This is how you say "thank you."
Draco looks up from Harry's writing in time to see him make that throwing gesture forwards from his chin that Draco saw him practice the other day. Harry makes it a few more times, slowly, as though he assumes Draco will need time to catch up with him, and then scribbles down something else on the parchment.
For taking care of the kitten.
He makes the gesture again and continues, for cooking dinner last night. The gesture, and for not wincing all the time, only some of the time, which makes Draco wince again. The gesture, and for trying to play Quidditch with me.
He repeats it and follows it up with the written words, again and again, until Draco begins to understand the motion of the hand itself as "Thank you," to see it speaking.
Harry can't hear him when they make love, but Draco can hear Harry.
And that's a good thing. Harry tended to bite his tongue and look down before-before. He sometimes acted as though he was ashamed of the sounds he made, and hid his face when Draco really made him come. He doesn't do that, now, because he seems to have accepted that he doesn't know what sounds he makes, or exactly how other people hear them. But he does see the expressions on Draco's face, and he knows what makes Draco pay attention and think and wince and laugh, and he knows what makes him go limp with pleasure.
The first time they make love after Harry starts learning sign language, Draco collapses on top of his chest, panting, and moves his lips against Harry's skin. Then he looks up, wondering if Harry will think he's speaking when he's not, really, just kissing him.
But Harry smiles at him, and says, "Thank you."
Harry can't play Quidditch anymore, it's too dangerous. But he can fly. When Draco looks around, when he can look at something beyond the narrow confines of their house, he finds out that some people make high-quality brooms with enchantments that can help deaf flyers. The broom's bristles can glow if they make a tight turn; the shaft can flash in random colors, or even project letters into the air, to warn them of problems with the broom's magic itself. Those brooms are available, especially for someone with the funds to spend that Draco has. He simply didn't want to see.
The day he gives one of those brooms to Harry, they end up making love on the Quidditch pitch. But not before Harry climbs on the broom and darts around the sky like a Snitch himself, and then tells Draco, with his hands, that Draco gave him back his wings.
Draco learns the sign language more slowly than Harry, at first. He can't always spend time with the books because Harry has them, and Harry also has a month's head start on Draco. And then there are the times Granger comes over to practice talking with Harry, and Draco has to leave the room because she'll start making comments, aloud, about pure-bloods and the ways that they reject sign language, and he can't stand it.
But one day she doesn't do that, and Draco asks Harry why, half in writing and half with his hands.
"Because I told her not to say things I can't see," Harry says, and Draco understands all of it.
Harry names the kitten "Flight," for the way he leaps after pieces of feathers and dust drifting in the air, and invents a sign for his name, a quick skimming of his hands together that imitates the way his new broom points in the air. Flight sometimes answers to his name, and sometimes not, like all cats.
They sit on the couch together in the evenings, before the fire, with Flight curled up between them, and Harry says, "I think I'm going to ask to go back to the Aurors, but a desk job at first. Then I can transfer somewhere else in the Ministry."
And Draco nods, and says, "Whatever you want."
Then there is silence, with the fire brilliant before them and warm on their faces, and Flight vibrating against them with the force of his purr.