This is a bonding!fic written for the H/D Tropes exchange. None of the potions/books/characters/spells in this fic are original – they all exist in the Harry Potter universe.
Summary: On two different sides of London, living their own lives and finally experiencing peace and even some happiness, Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy begin to feel a little…empty. It's manageable at first, but after the emptiness come odd emotions striking at odd times, jeopardising work and friendships, and after odd emotions come urges and longings for something they can't find. Unable to find the piece they're missing and clueless as to what's making them this way, Harry and Draco experiment with different ways to solve their issues – but what if it's all connected?
Warnings: EWE, one mention of past Harry/Ginny, a mention of past Ron/Hermione (they are only friends here). Also, this is a top!Harry fic. Please let it be noted that I have nothing against versatility, switching, or top!Draco. This fic was written for someone and therefore follows her preferences and not mine.
Notes: This fic follows mostly movie canon and also my own imagination.
That Missing Something
Something was missing.
Harry couldn't quite put his finger on it, but there was no denying it. He felt empty, as if a small piece of him had been removed, and he couldn't quite figure out where it had gone, or which piece it even was. It was as if a void had settled in his very being, and was sucking up his soul, or some nonsense like that.
It wasn't as if anything was wrong with his life. He had helped rebuild Hogwarts over the past year since the Second Wizarding War, and he was currently undergoing Auror training with his best friend and partner-in-crime Ron – he and all those who fought in the Battle of Hogwarts had been allowed to attempt careers as Aurors without going through N.E.W.T.s, although Hermione had insisted on returning to Hogwarts to complete her education. He was surrounded by incredible friends, he had played his part well for the Wizarding world, and his scar hadn't hurt in a year. By right, he should be ecstatic.
But still, something was missing, and Harry Potter couldn't quite figure it out.
Maybe it was the fact that he didn't have a significant other, but Harry wasn't really searching for one right now. He was eighteen, for Merlin's sake. He had plenty of time for that later on in life.
After the War, Ginny had found love in a decent wizard's arms, and frankly, Harry was happy for her. He recognized, now, that his crush on Ginny had been nothing more than that – a crush. He hadn't been significantly interested in anyone else since then, and he wasn't keen to look around too hard. He would rather kick start his career before getting tangled in any more complicated relationships.
Harry was awoken from his thoughts by the sound of Ron beckoning to him.
"Blimey, which dimension were you in?" he questioned. "We've got Stealth and Tracking in less than five minutes, and you still haven't finished your lunch."
Harry glanced down at his food – a plate of chicken pie – and realized that he had, indeed, only taken a few mouthfuls. He had started to lose his appetite ever since this whole "something's missing" thing started, and he wasn't certain how he felt about that yet.
"Right, sorry," Harry said quickly, wolfing a large slice down in what was probably a near-perfect, accurate impersonation of Ron. Perhaps a little too accurate, as Neville, sitting a little to Harry's left, gave him a disgusted look over his cup of tea. "We can go now."
Ron wrinkled his nose. "Such a waste," he noted as Harry stood up, leaving the rest of his pie behind.
Neville shook his head, an exasperated I-wonder-why-I'm-friends-with-these-people expression on his face as he paced alongside them. He didn't look too excited, Harry noticed. Neville might be fantastic at duelling now, but he was pure rubbish at anything that even remotely involved stealth. Several times, he reminded Harry a little bit of Tonks, who was missed daily.
Harry had known for a few years that he'd be an Auror. Despite what Umbridge and Luna had said, he knew it was the right job for someone with such an in-suppressible hero complex. But that was the only thing he had really known – everything else that occurred following the War was completely unexpected.
The simple fact was that things hadn't worked out exactly how most people might have planned. First of all, Ron and Hermione's relationship had been short-lived – Hermione was too focused on her studies and could barely stand Ron's peculiar habits, and Ron got annoyed with Hermione's nagging pretty quickly. They had broken it off a few months after the War, but Harry was immensely grateful to see that they had remained good friends, and had easily fallen back into their old routine of bantering without too many strings attached.
Also, Harry was no longer the Ministry's poster boy – far from it. Instead, he was considered overrated. Now that he was no longer needed, it seemed that several of the senior Ministry officials believed that his success was nothing but a stroke of dumb luck, and that despite all that he had done, he still shouldn't be allowed such easy access into Auror training. Kingsley Shacklebolt, the new Minister For Magic, didn't pay them any heed, but it still bothered Harry a little that all his services had come to naught. Sure, he was still worshipped by majority of the younger crowd, but it was the old-school officials' approval that would earn him positions and promotions.
There were many things that were different about his life and the lives of those around him –nothing was how he had envisioned it to be. Especially this odd emptiness resting inside him which he couldn't quite fill.
He had misplaced something.
That was what it felt like to Draco – like an important piece of himself had been misplaced, lost, hidden from his sight, and he was powerless to figure out what it was. Draco wasn't unused to feeling a little out of place, but this genuinely felt as if a rather large, gaping hole was planted somewhere in his heart. He didn't like it, and worst of all, he couldn't figure out why it was there.
Draco Malfoy didn't like being powerless. Nor did he like not getting his way.
It wasn't as if he hadn't gotten his way for the past year or so. His family had escaped an Azkaban sentence due to their last-minute switch in alliance, although his father and mother were under house arrest, which was why Draco had been living alone in Muggle London for majority of the year. Draco had only been overlooked during the sentencing thanks to Potter and Longbottom's testimonies, which he had been so grateful for that he had actually gone up to them and stammered thanks. Although Longbottom looked uneasily, Potter had given him a carefully guarded smile and shaken his hand, and Draco had felt sort of forgiven, which was really all he required.
Just a few days ago, Potter had posted his old wand back to him, with a messily scrawled note taped to it:
Was cleaning out and found this buried in a corner. Thought it'd be best for you to have it back.
Although Draco was sure that Potter was simply trying to be a nice little Gryffindor, he had to admit that the gift had made his life a lot easier. The Hawthorn wand felt warm when he took it in his fingers for the first time, and all the charms he had difficulty doing suddenly seemed simple and effective. He had written a simple "thank you" on the back of Potter's letter and sent it back to him, as if it was no big deal and hadn't had any real impact on his life, but in truth, he was extremely grateful.
The fact was that Draco liked where he was now – the first time he could have truly said that. He was an apprentice at Mr. Mulpepper's Apothecary, and his employer wasn't prejudiced towards former Death Eaters and recognized his talents fairly. His Muggle apartment was cosy and not easily invaded by Prophet reporters, and he and his parents were on good terms, even after he had come out to them as being gay. In fact, his mother's initial reaction was to turn to grin at her husband and whisper, "I called it."
Draco wasn't sure whether to be offended or not. He had chosen to laugh it off.
The tension in the Manor had defused by a tenfold now that they didn't have a Dark Lord hanging over their heads, and it was clear how relaxed the atmosphere there was every time Draco was allowed to visit.
"The war has made us realize, Draco, that we simply cannot be certain of how much time we have left to walk to earth," his father had said quietly following Draco's confessions to being gay. "All that matters is your happiness."
And with his father's blessing, there was no way Draco wasn't going to find his happiness. In fact, he was happier than he had been in a long time, despite being single. He had barely experienced adulthood – he didn't need anything to tie him down. Such obligations could come later on, and he was satisfied with his life now. That fact in itself was a miracle.
But if Draco was truly happy, then what was this void doing inside him?
Harry didn't feel very much like talking that night as he lazily returned to Grimmauld Place. He didn't speak to Kreacher, he didn't touch his dinner (the elf was visibly hurt by the rejection of his fine cooking, and Harry made a mental note to make sure Hermione didn't find out) and he barely slept that night.
There was no denying it now – something was missing, something was very, very wrong, and he just couldn't put his finger on it. As if he needed any more mysteries to solve in his life.
He ran through possible reasons in his head. He couldn't be missing his friends – he saw Ron and Neville almost every day, Hermione at least once a week, and Ginny and Luna reasonably often. Was he experiencing some belated tension or sadness as a result of lives lost in the war? That didn't seem likely either, as he was frankly certain he had come to a peaceful acceptance of that. Was he craving romance? A little less responsibility and more time for himself and fun?
Maybe it was just a phase, and if he ignored it long enough, this odd feeling would go away.
Draco hated feeling like this, hated being in this emotional state for no reason, especially after he had been through so much in the War – all he wanted was a little peace, a break from being unhappy.
Trying to figure out what was wrong with him, Draco skipped dinner and went straight to his fridge for a bottle of beer. Muggle appliances had taken a while to get used to, but now that he knew how to work them, he found the process of using them rather enjoyable.
Popping the cap, Draco took a long swig from the glass bottle. It tasted rather artificial and flat in his mouth, which was odd, because Draco usually liked this kind of beer. Annoyed with himself for acting strange, he set the bottle down on the table and tried to figure out what was wrong with him.
It couldn't be the fact that he missed his parents. He'd seen them last weekend and had Firecalled his mother a few hours ago. He had lost all of his friends, so it wasn't like he had any to miss. Or was that the problem? Did he long for companionship? Unfortunately, it wasn't like he could find much of that right now, nor did he really want to. Maybe some time he'd get up to socialising, when he felt up to it, which he didn't.
Lying down on his sofa, Draco draped an arm over his eyes. He hadn't completely outgrown his spoiled childhood and was easily distressed when things weren't going his way. If this odd, strange emotional void didn't go away soon, he was going to have to find a way to obtain some company.
Harry barely had time to react as a jet of light was shot towards the glass structure he was supposed to be protecting.
"Carpe Retractum!" he yelled, shouting the first spell that came to mind, drawing the object towards him with whip-like force. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough time to erect a cushioning charm, and the delicate glass shattered unceremoniously in front of him.
The lights came back on in the training hall. Harry winced at the sudden onslaught of artificial light obscuring his vision, but quickly fixed up his expression as Proudfoot, one of the Auror trainers, marched up to him, looking positively livid.
"Potter!" he screeched. "How many times must I tell you, speed is key! How you ever became a Seeker, I have no idea. And Weasley!" He turned sharply towards Ron. "You were supposed to have his back! You could have Conjured a cushioning charm, could you have not?"
Ron stared at his toes in defeat, and Harry bit his tongue to keep from answering back. It wasn't as if they hadn't tried their very best to defend the worthless glass statue – it was that Proudfoot and Savage were setting very unrealistic expectations. No one would ever expect two Aurors to singlehandedly deflect fifty Reductos at once.
"Dumb luck might have worked for you before, Potter, but it takes more than good fortune to be an Auror," Savage snarled from a corner as he cast a Reparo on the shattered glass. "Better buck up, or I'll put in some words about you to the Minister."
Harry felt a slight surge of irritation rush quickly through his nerves, but he hurriedly forced any frustration he felt down. Blowing up on his trainers wouldn't do him any good – it'd probably only get him kicked out faster.
"There's no need for threats, Savage," Proudfoot said. Harry didn't mind him as much – he might have been extremely strict, and he might have been a firm believer in the fact that Harry and his friends should have gone through the standard interviews first, but he was never unfair. Plus, he didn't always have an unrelated insult to throw at Harry. "They won't get you anywhere; the Minister's got their backs." He turned to Harry and Ron and frowned. "We're going to try that again. Remember, Potter, speed! And Weasley, focus!" He marched off, but Savage lingered for a little longer.
"The Minister won't have your backs forever, Potter, Weasley," he said warningly. "He might still be star-struck by your fame, but the few of us who choose to remain sensible aren't."
Ron grabbed onto Harry's arm a split second before Harry opened his mouth to say something he would probably regret. "Not worth it," he muttered into Harry's ear. Harry nodded mutely, taking a few moments to collect himself as the lights dimmed again. He would be really lucky if he didn't smash the stupid glass ornament on purpose this time. He'd be even luckier if he was able to resist the temptation to fling it in the general direction of Savage's face.
Then again, Harry had always been lucky – even if it was just, as Savage put it, dumb luck. Now, if only that dumb luck would apply to this strange feeling that something was missing, and make it go away.
Flasks filled with dark yellow liquid were lined up in neat little rows all along the table, arranged meticulously with a preciseness that was really rather impressive. A single drop of perspiration dripped down the side of Draco's neck. He had been working diligently on a batch of Chelidonium Miniscula all morning, and it was already nearing eleven o'clock. He smirked to himself, proud of his accomplishments, as he waved his wand, ladling the newest concoction into more flasks and sending stoppers sailing into them before setting them down to join the rest on the table.
Draco paused for a moment, admiring his handiwork. He couldn't think of a better way to live. Very few were privileged enough to get paid to do something that they love.
A sudden spike of annoyance rushed through Draco's feelings of comfortable peace. He took a step back, wondering if he had been working too hard, and carefully re-pocketed his wand, thinking it was just a passing rush from exhaustion. It didn't pass, though, and he felt a steady anger pulse through him for seemingly no reason in particular.
Frantically, Draco briefly checked through all the ingredients he had used for his potion-making and double-checked his skin for spillage. There didn't seem to be any harmful substances anywhere, and if this rage wasn't potion-induced, then…
"Draco, have you finished with the Chelidonium Miniscula?" a voice called.
"Quite. I've spent all morning doing that," Draco said snippily, instantly regretting it. Mr. Mulpepper hadn't done anything to wrong him.
The old man stepped into the room, raising an eyebrow at him, but thankfully dismissing his insolence for the time being. "And they're all ready for shipping?"
"I presume so," Draco replied, his tone ringing rude and blunt. He winced at it, unsure what was making him so irrationally pissed off at someone who had shown him nothing but kindness all this while.
Mr. Mulpepper didn't reply, electing instead to levitate the flasks into insulated crates with his wand. After a moment, he said, "Perhaps harshness gained you several advantages in your childhood, Draco, but I would have expected you to learn by now that in the grand scheme of things, it is compassion that matters."
Draco ducked his head in semi-shame, although he still felt oddly annoyed. He opened his mouth to apologize, but found himself too frustrated to do so. What was wrong with him?
"When you're done being discourteous, do make yourself useful at the counter. I'm expecting an influx of female customers requesting Beautification Potions and Tolipan Blemish Blitzer in a few minutes," Mr. Mulpepper said briskly. "I will take over the customers after I'm done with some paperwork. I don't trust you to hold your tongue around gaggling females today. After I've returned, I'll need you to make Star Grass Salve. Oh, and while you're at it, order some more of Madame Glossy's Silver Polish – our stocks are running low."
"Yes, sir," Draco said coolly, and even he noticed that his voice was far colder than it should have been.
Mr. Mulpepper spared him one last glance, and Draco noticed that there was a tinge of concern in his gaze. Before he could be certain, however, his employer had turned and walked out of the room.
First the emptiness (which was still ever-present, by the way), and now this? Sighing, Draco put on the most sincere smile he could muster, which probably wasn't quite so sincere after all, and exited the room after Mr. Mulpepper, wondering what could possibly be happening to him.
A new chapter will be uploaded next Friday or Saturday.
Reviews are greatly appreciated! :)