Happy Birthday miints!!!
What I'm posting here isn't what I meant to give you originally, but seeing as how my internet connection has been a little bitchy ho this past week, it's all I've got at the moment. Anyway, I hope you like it. (Or at least appreciate the sacrifice, because MAN do I hate posting unfinished fic, haha.)
(working) Title: Post Mortem
Rating: As if it matters? XD
Summary: Soon as I figure out the plot, I'll letcha know.
A's Note: post-Hogwarts, and.... yes. The rest is easy enough to figure out. This was supposed to be my SOOPR-SEKRIT fic I was working on... but that was months ago, sigh. (I have lots of these things sitting around on my harddrive, it's horrible.) Anyway, I might as well stop
He sees the dead in his dreams– endless parades of faces and hands stretched toward him, eyes full of pleading and despair. Sometimes he dreams of shallow graves, and things buried in them that know his name.
He wakes from one such dream in a place he doesn't recognize– it is outside, dark and wet and cold, and there isn't an inch of his body that feels warm. Standing up, every muscle seems to shriek in protest– for a moment he strongly considers simply lying back down in the mud.
Instead, he begins to walk, stumbling from tree to tree, leaning upon each for support. The bark is rough and wet under his hands, abrading his skin; he continues forward, though he can't see where he's going– he's lost his glasses, somewhere. He can't think of where– just as he can't think why he should be in these woods, or why his body should ache and burn and freeze by turns. He can hardly think of his own name. He bends what concentration he can muster out of dizzy, whirling thoughts merely upon walking-- because he must not lay down. He has become well-practiced at surviving.
After an agelong time, his hands reach out to touch stone instead of bark. The cold, slippery feel of it brings his heart leaping to his throat– he is frightened; he doesn't understand why. Still, he turns to follow the wall, hand pressed against it as a guide. It leads to a gate, black iron bars twisting up towards the sky, slick with rain. He can see nothing but a blur of darkness, but he knows there must be a residence somewhere beyond them.
The gates do not open for him.
He sinks down beside them, legs refusing to hold him up in the face of this failure. He is so cold he can barely breathe from it; and he wonders if he might still be dreaming, except there is nothing here close to death but for himself.
His hands around the bars are the only thing still keeping him upright when he sees a shape moving towards him through the rain. A voice speaks sharply to him, but the static in his head drowns it out. The shape comes closer, and all he can make out in the darkness is the pale oval of a face. Suddenly the figure is right in front of him, kneeling on the other side of the gate, hands wrapped so tight around the bars that their forearms tremble with it.
"You're supposed to be dead," the voice says, near enough now to be made out, and recognized.
He knows now where he is, though not why. He opens his mouth to speak, tasting the coolness of rain in his mouth. "Am I," he says, and discovers that his throat feels like raw meat. A hand reaches for him, slipping between the bars of the gate. It doesn't move fast enough. The world blurs at the edges, and he topples onto the muddy ground, unconscious once more.
Harry wakes in the home of Draco Malfoy.
The bed he is in would have filled the sitting area of his flat in London; the sheets are white and crisp, and move smoothly against his skin. It is the first morning in a long year where he hasn't woken up bleary-eyed, still tired down to the bone, through muscle and sinew. He stretches, fingers brushing the carved inlay of the headboard, and revels in the freedom of his movement– the bruises and scratches and aches have vanished, gone as if they'd never been. The large window opposite the bed throws golden beams of sunlight across the covers, and the brightness of it doesn't sting his eyes. He breathes deep, lungs filling as if he'd surfaced after too long underwater. The air has a strange scent to it; he can taste it on the back of his tongue– the faintest hint of cloves and hot metal.
Harry jumps about a mile, and has to scramble a bit not to fall out of the bed; then he has to struggle with the sheets to keep most of himself covered– he's not wearing a stich of clothing, to his dismay. Instinctively, his head whips towards the origin of the voice. Malfoy is lounging in a chair by the door, far enough away that without his glasses Harry can't distinguish his expression. It unnerves him.
The whole thing unnerves him, now that he's awake enough to start thinking through his situation– his heart is still pounding half a beat fast, and the moment he begins to suspect it might be a set-up of some kind, he can feel his face closing down; expression blanking, just like throwing a switch.
He decides he doesn't have the patience for any word-games-- he decides to be blunt. "Why am I here, Malfoy?" His voice isn't raspy or raw anymore; that's good.
There is movement, a pale slashing blur as Malfoy moves his clasped hands in front of him, resting his chin upon them, the gesture deceptively casual. "I was hoping you could tell me that, Potter. Along with one other little thing: why you're not dead."
Harry's fingers curl into the sheets; when his realizes this, he forces his hand to relax. "May I have my clothing first. . . please?" The please is added as an afterthought. Even five years later, it feels strange and unnatural to be conversing with Malfoy in a normal tone of voice- like running backward over uneven ground.
"No." A few seconds later, "You can lower your hackles, Potter. Your clothes were in rags. Here." Malfoy stands up, moving towards the bed, and Harry has to struggle with himself not to pull the sheet up around himself further, as if he were a scared little child hiding from the monster in the closet.
Malfoy pulls an object from his pocket, and even visual-impaired Harry can see it is a wand. He is half a second from flinging himself off the bed and dashing out of the room, clothing be damned, except his reaction is too late; Malfoy aims at him, muttering a spell.
The smell of cloves and metal gets stronger as the feel of warm cloth envelopes his body– he recognizes it, now– it is the smell of magic. His chest contracts, an invisible band around his lungs; he forces his body to stop shivering when he notices Malfoy seems to be looking at him oddly. He throws back the sheets, getting off the bed on the opposite side of his old school rival. Malfoy has clothed him in plain black jeans and a dark-gray sweater; no shoes, though. The feel of the hardwood floor is warm and polished under his feet.
"The next time you point that thing at me, Malfoy, I'll break your wrist," he says, squinting through the contrasting sunbeams and gray shadows.
"I'm surprised you can tell whether I'm pointing or not– transmute occulus."
Harry's vision jumps into startling clarity, just in time for him to see Malfoy slipping his wand up his sleeve, a smug expression on his face. Five years hasn't changed it much– the arrogant curve of the lips, the sharp cheekbones, and the disdainfully narrowed eyes– they're all just as Harry remembers. He puts his hands up, fingers tracing the outline of the glasses perched on his nose; they're not like his old pair, but they'll do.
He remembers then how Malfoy had found him– clinging to the Manor gates, soaked by freezing rain and barely alive. He still doesn't know how he got here, or why– but he does know that Malfoy could have just left him there in the mud, or called the Ministry to fetch him, and he hadn't.
He has to fight to get the words out, but he says them anyway. "Thank you. For. . . you know."
The other man arches one pale eyebrow eloquently, but nods his acknowledgment.
Then there was also the matter of. . . "Have you told anyone I'm here?"
"Not as yet."
"I would appreciate it if you didn't."
"You want favors– I want answers."
So did Harry. Still, he did owe Malfoy his life. It would be better to just get this mess over with so he could leave, and put this place with it's smell of magic and memories far behind him. But it's not that simple, that easy to speak of things he's buried in the deepest parts of himself for all these years. He opens his mouth, hesitates, closes it again.
He must have been taking too long, for Malfoy decides to prompt him. "You didn't die after the duel with Riddle."
Harry is surprised to hear that name, though he should have guessed the whole truth about Voldemort would have come out eventually, once people unlearned the habit of not speaking his name, of telling his deeds in hushed whispers. "No. I was hurt; though not mortally. But I. . . I told the Aurors to say I hadn't made it through."
"And why did you do that?" Malfoy's tone is bored; as if they spoke of nothing more interesting than the weather. It amuses Harry, unexpectedly; he is able to put the memories at a distance, and turns his head to meet Malfoy's gaze, a half-smile touching the corner of his mouth.
"Why?" He lifts a shoulder, a nonchalance he didn't feel. The muscles between his shoulder blades itch, tense as a bowstring. "Why do birds always know which way to fly, come winter? I just did it."
Malfoy eyes him now in disbelief. "Are you telling me you let thousands of people think you had died, including all of your little Gryffindor friends– and you don't know why?"
"Seems like, doesn't it?"
Anger flashes in silver eyes. "I see. So that's how it is." With swift steps, Malfoy moves over to the fireplace on the far side of the room, and warily Harry follows him. With an inaudible word, Malfoy sets the fire burning cheerily. "Do you suppose I ought to inform the Minister, first? Or perhaps I should just call for the editor at the Daily Prophet."
Five quick steps and then Harry's fingers are snatching up Malfoy's wrist, stopping him before he can toss in his pinch of Floo powder. The quiet amusement has dissolved into cold rage, all within those five steps. "Don't play with me, Malfoy."
The other man meets him glare for glare, cutting his eyes cooly to the hand on his wrist, raised between them. "Don't fuck with me, Potter."
Harry drops his wrist, lip curling in a snarl. "Why do you even fucking care? I could just walk out the front door and we'd never have to see each other's face again– we could pretend that I was never here."
"No, Potter. We can't."
"Why the hell not?"
"Because it was my doorstep you fell on last night, bleeding and half-dead. Mine. You're not walking away from this till I have answers."
Harry stuffs the rage away into a corner, pushing it down till it was only a small shrieking voice in the back of his head, and he could breathe again. "What if I don't have answers, Malfoy– what then?"
Malfoy's voice is cold enough to match his own. "I'll wait till you do."
"I'm not staying here."
"Do as you like, then. So will I."
Turning away, muttering curses under his breath, Harry closes his eyes and counts to ten, and keeps counting till he stops imagining himself wringing Malfoy's thin white neck. He was trapped, no doubt about it. Aside from the fact that he had no clue exactly where Malfoy Manor was, other than the middle of nowhere– if he left, Malfoy would ring up the newspapers and the Ministry, and then Harry wouldn't be able to show his face inside London again without major reconstructive surgery, first. He'd grown his hair out longer to hide the scar. The only thing that had kept him anonymous for five years had been that people thought he was dead– if they passed on the street, their eyes slid by his, dismissing him. That wouldn't happen if headlines all over the wizarding world came out screaming, "Potter Lives!"
"Have it your way, Malfoy," he says, and resignation leaves a bitter taste in his mouth. It is bad enough being trapped in a house– he has to be trapped in a house with Malfoy, of all people. Still, it might have been worse– it might have been Ron or Hermione's doorstep.
He immediately and very carefully stops thinking along that line. There a soft sound as Malfoy dampens the fire, and walks back towards his chair. Harry reluctantly trails behind, but doesn't sit.
"Let's start with how you got here, Potter. You can at least tell me that." Malfoy sits back, crossing his long legs in front of him, and watches Harry expectantly.
"I don't know, alright?" He remembers the feeling of waking up to the icy rain, and the aching of his body. He even remembers some of what he'd been dreaming before waking up– glazed eyes in gray faces, and skin peeled back from bone, blackened with age. Corpses. His thoughts skim further back, seeking the origin of the events that might have led him here– but there is nothing.
"I remember going to bed, at my flat in London. That was Wednesday night. And then. . ." he frowns. "It wasn't your doorstep, you know. It was in the woods. I woke up. . . the way I was. . .and I walked. I don't know how far. I came to the gate– you know the rest."
"Today is Friday."
The obvious conclusion is left unsaid between them– that Harry is missing the memories for a full day out of his life.
What the bloody hell had happened to him?
Hahaha, yay, it totally doesn't go anywhere at all!
;_________; I suck at life.
*meebles* Happy Birthday?