Rating: eventual NC-17
Pairings: Draco/Blaise, Draco/Harry (not necessarily in that order)
Summary: Sometimes love is gentle and familiar, like the warmth of the late summer sun. And sometimes it is so much more....
Warnings: Character death (not Harry or Draco) and some Ginny bashing. 1st person (I know some people don't like first person but please give it a chance! I will try not to disappoint) Not beta'd! Apology for any mistakes.
Note: I signed up for the H/D Big Bang and...well, it's kicking my ass. 30,000 words in and I can feel my sanity draining out of my ears. So I thought I should move some smaller plot bunnies out of the way in hopes that will help my smarting self-confidence. Yes, this is in first person but only because I want to try different writing styles. I thought it would be a good exercise and so far, I'm actually quite pleased with it. So don't be put off by all the I's and me's. They want some lovin' too! XD
Aestus: latin for heat, passionate fire, tide
Part 1: Death is not
“Dying is not romantic, and death is not a game which will soon be over... Death is not anything... death is not... It's the absence of presence, nothing more... the endless time of never coming back... a gap you can't see, and when the wind blows through it, it makes not sound...”
It wasn’t an epic tale of love, mine and Blaise Zabini’s.
We just were.
Friends first in school and then later, after I served my sentence in Azkaban, we found each other again, became something more. It was a slow thing, physical at first, merely comfortable and familiar but over time, it built into something deeper. We understood one another, you see. Slytherins both and from pureblooded families. The kind of wizards that the rest of the world pretended didn’t exist because we had been on the wrong side of a war once and that was just fine. There was no fire, no passion but we didn’t need that.
In the end, I knew we loved one another, in our own way.
Certainly I could never see my life without him in it.
And then…he just wasn’t there anymore.
They are still calling it an accident but we had both survived a mad man and the war he created so I am still convinced that it would take more than a mere accident to bring either of us down. But the explosion in London’s fashion district remains a mystery to this day, despite having both Muggle and Wizard officials on the investigation. They don’t even know what caused it, only that it was magical in nature.
All I know is that it was spectacular odds that we happened to be walking past the clunky Muggle vehicle when it unleashed a fiery hell.
It was deafening, the sound of it, screeching metal and sudden, licking heat that knocked us both off our feet and slammed our bodies into the unforgiving brick of the building beside us. For a moment I couldn’t even breathe, the air sucked from my very lungs by the impact and the heat that tore at the street. There were people screaming but they sounded so far off. I wanted to tell them to shut up or to at least do something useful like call for help but I couldn’t even lift my head. All I could do is lay upon the warm, broken concrete and try to blink my way into full consciousness. The pain took a while to set in but when it did, it had the odd effect of waking me up.
What I saw when I managed to open my eyes was almost worse than anything I had witnessed during the war.
The explosion had set several other cars on fire, launching them in every which direction so they were strewn about the street. Glass glittered in the light of the flames near my face, blown out from the storefronts and more than one awning had caught fire. I was in the middle of it, nearly hemmed in on all sides by the raging, angry flames and the smoke was getting thicker by the minute, making breathing even more impossible.
When I saw him, crumpled before me upon the sidewalk, I thought I must be stuck in some horrible nightmare. It couldn’t be real that elegant, beautiful Blaise was tossed on the ground like some ragdoll, limbs awkward and head tilted at an impossible angle. Half of his face was terribly burned, no longer beautiful but twisted in a grotesque mask of blood. All those lovely black curls that he had grown out because I loved them so much, they tumbled to the concrete, making him look so pitiful, so broken.
He had been walking on the outside, shielding me from some of the blast.
I knew he was dead as soon as I saw him, knew because his chest wasn’t moving and there was blood everywhere. And no one could ever survive their neck being twisted to such a degree. I knew but I called his name anyway, as if he would simply open his eyes, as if that would make it all better. I forced myself to his side, my right wrist and collarbone screaming in protest, reaching out with trembling fingers to brush uselessly at his curls, to turn his head so the damage to his face was hidden. His one good eye was still open, glazed over but still a light, arresting gold, seeing nothing at all. Those very eyes, the ones I had seen go bright with excitement or dark with lust, they would never focus on anything again.
“Look at me, Blaise,” I begged but of course he could not, “Please, wake up…don’t leave me…” I didn’t expect that to work, not really. Yet the words recycled themselves through my mind over and over again, making my throat clog with their stagnate need to escape. The tears drawing lines through the smoky grime on my face and the ache in my heart already knew the truth. In the end, I closed his single eye because he at least should have that. And then I bent over him, the pain in my chest suddenly too much to bear, and howled my grief. Of all the things to kill him, it was something like this.
How long it took for help to arrive, I could not be sure. By then I wanted nothing more than to join Blaise, to look at the same things he saw now, in death, to be by his side forever, like we once thought we would. The fires on the street slowly dwindled and someone managed to reach us, asking me questions I didn’t hear. I just held onto my lover’s cooling body and cried. When they tried to take him from me, I screamed at them, cursing and damning them with things I can’t even remember and in a voice so shattered, I am surprised it even still worked.
Then, out of the smoke, he came.
Harry Potter, dressed in his long, scarlet Auror robes, looking every inch the hero. I would not have noticed him at all if it hadn’t been for the fact that everyone else suddenly seemed to melt away and there was a man crouched in front of me, his hand gently pressing against my shoulder.
“Come on, Malfoy,” oh, his voice was so kind, too, kinder than I had ever heard it, than I ever suspected it could get. Yet it was still his, familiar, rough, deep, “You have to let him go,” How could he ask that of me? I couldn’t even respond at that point, just wrapped my arms tightly around Blaise’s shoulders and held on for dear life. I wouldn’t let go. I would rot with him but I wouldn’t let him go. Then warm fingers curled around my chin and I was looking through my tears into fathomless emerald eyes, the ones that were so famous, that were so beautiful. And I hated them, “You must,” he whispered and when I choked on a sob, his eyes filled too, salty tears dampening his black eyelashes.
It was those tears that convinced me to loosen my grip, to let them take Blaise away. So much compassion that this man would even cry for my loss.
After that I let him pull me to the side, let him wrap a blanket around my shoulders and watched with despondent eyes as he led his team with such proficiency, the matter was in hand in what felt like moments. In that time, my tears dried up but my grief became a storm, raging in my chest and making me dizzy. There was a team of Healers that waved their wands at me, murmuring to each other and trying to ask me questions but I didn’t hear them. I didn’t care.
It wasn’t Potter that Apparated me to St. Mungo’s and he didn’t speak to me again after he wrapped that warm blanket around my shoulders but the witch who did was kind. I didn’t care.
“I’ll come visit you when I’m done here,” he had said before he walked away.
Whether he did or not didn’t matter to me. I didn’t care.
Thirteen people died on that street that day, including the man I loved.
I didn’t honestly expect to see Potter again despite the fact that he said he would come see me. Why would he, when we had never once even been civil to one another, let alone friends? I didn’t want to see him again, to remind me all over again (as if I could forget) why he was there in the first place and who wasn’t. I didn’t want him there because he would distract me from the image of Blaise’s face, torn apart, eye unseeing that remained burned on the back of my eyes and I didn’t want to be distracted from that. I wanted that to remain so I would always remember how the world had decided to take away the most beautiful person I had ever known; by ripping him apart and rendering him grotesque. And I know that might sound shallow and cold but one would have to know Blaise to understand how cruel that was, that he would die so bloodied and broken.
Potter would try to take that away from me with his kindness and his pity and his ridiculous, overly-sweet compassion. But I wouldn’t let him. My grief was as ugly as the way my lover had been taken from me and I wanted it to consume me.
They brought me to a cramped, overly crowded room in the Emergency wing of Injuries and Maladies and forgot about me on a bed that was stiff and smelled like too many cleaning spells. The rest of the beds were full, patients with a variety of ills, some of which were cringe worthy and rather messy. I didn’t look at anyone else; not to see if they cared enough to recognize me, to glare angrily when they remembered my name. Instead my gaze remained on my shoes where they dangled an inch or two above the floor, the expensive Italian leather now scuffed and discolored. They were one of my best pair of shoes, cost nearly and arm and a leg and suddenly I hated the man I had been, who had bought them with such pride. They were fucking shoes. Those wouldn’t die; sure they get scuffed and damaged but they could be replaced. A life couldn’t be replaced. It didn’t come in sizes and wasn’t sold in stores. It was a one-time deal and yet it felt like I had taken better care of these stupid shoes than I had of the people I supposedly cared about.
A hospital room, it turned out, is the perfect place for introspection. The bustle and non-stop commotion around me became background static and my eyes remained on those worthless shoes, hating them and myself more and more while I continued to reminded myself what Blaise’s face had looked like in death. The longer I sat there, alone, unnoticed as if I had cast a Disillusion charm around myself, I realized that he had been the only person left in my life, just as I had been in his. Mother lived in France and Father was in Azkaban. All the rest of my friends from school were gone or dead. No one was left to care that I was in the hospital and that my lover was dead. No one but my once-expensive, scuffed up shoes.
It was hours later when Potter strode into the room like he owed it, still in his crimson Auror robes and green eyes flashing behind his glasses. The only reason I even bothered to look up was because his arrival caused the room to still as everyone paused to stare at him. At any other time I would have admired him, purely for aesthetic purposes of course, because it was undeniable that Potter was breathtaking. Now I couldn’t give a shit. I was a bit surprised he bothered to show up at all but the feeling felt flat and far away.
He ignored everyone else in the room, either not caring about the curious looks or not seeing them and merely walked over to the bed upon which I sat. So strange, I couldn’t help but think as I watched him draw closer, that once I would have wanted nothing more than to see the man trip and fall on his face or to hex his legs from right underneath him. Seeing him now meant nothing at all. Even a few hours ago I would have told him to fuck off, that I wanted nothing to do with him. But what did any of that matter now? I just sat and quietly watched him come, feeling tired and dirty and hurting so fiercely it was difficult to breathe.
“Sorry that took so long,” Potter began as he stopped before me and running his hands through his hopelessly wild hair. It was longer now, I noted absently but it was still a mess. Blaise would have had a scathing remark about personal grooming and I quickly squashed that thought before it could crush me, “I meant to be here hours ago but the cleanup and paperwork for this case has been…oh, um…never mind…” he seemed to realize halfway through his unwanted explanation that this case involved me and my dead lover. He was suddenly awkward and remorseful and once I would have snorted at his amazing ability to put his foot into his mouth.
Today I stared blankly at him, wishing he would just leave me alone. Finally the silence seemed to get at him for he tugged at his ridiculous hair and shifted anxiously from foot to foot.
“Look, er, what did the Healer say? About your injuries,” he sounded oddly concerned and for a moment I stared at him, feeling as blank as I’m sure my face looked. Then a great wave of irritation swept through me and I glared hotly at the dark haired man, suddenly hating him more than I ever had in my entire life.
“What Healer, Potter?” I sneered at him, wishing he would find someone else to go save, “You are the first person to speak to me since I’ve gotten here. What the fuck do you care, anyway?” my vehemence seemed to take him aback but instead of pissing him off and making him snap angrily at me like I had hoped, his eyes narrowed dangerously. Though dark fury blackened his expression, it was not because of me. I nearly stopped him when he whirled away and stormed over to the nurse’s station right across the hall but it wouldn’t have made any bit of a difference. From what I could recall about our time together at school, Potter was the most stubborn Gryffindor I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet.
“I want to know why there is a patient here that has not been seen by a Healer when I know he’s been here for hours,” the deep voice carried through the ward and everyone scrambled to obey. What a fool, thinking I cared whether he snapped his fingers and made someone come examined me or not. There was pain, of course, in my wrist where I must have thrown my hand out in order to catch myself, a sharp one in my collarbone, which would send bolts of pain down my arm when I feebly tried to move it and some minor scrapes that could probably easily be healed with a simple Episkey. I barely even noticed them though, because it was a lot less then I had suffered during the war and they were nothing in light of what I had lost. Truthfully, I didn’t care whether I was healed or not, didn’t care if I never moved from that uncomfortable hospital bed ever again.
But apparently Potter wanted enough for the both of us because moments later, a dark haired Healer with calm eyes and a serene expression greeted me with a warm smile and twirled his wand in an intricate pattern in the air in front of me. All the while, Potter stood beside the bed, oddly silent, arms crossed and wearing a dark scowl.
I just sat there and ignored them both, letting them fade into the white noise of my surroundings.
By the end of the Healer’s exam, I was told I had snapped my right clavicle bone in several places and fractured my wrist. That was all. The little scrapes that littered my palms and face were quickly taken care of but there was too much damage to the bone that was not as easily mended, even with potions. I was almost relieved when I was informed I would have to be kept overnight. I just listened with half an ear as the Healer, “Please call me Derek”, spoke in a cool, authoritative voice to the Auror that remained through the entire thing and Potter responded quietly, the concern in his voice falling into the numb pit of my frozen emotions. I’m not sure why the man felt he was responsible for me but I really didn’t give a fuck what he did with his free time. If he wanted to spend it at the hospital pitying a man who didn’t give one whit about him, then that was his prerogative.
He stood there as I was given the potions, followed me when I was lead to a quieter, more private room and watched from the corner as I curled up under the scratchy blankets, the scent of fake flowers and Scourgifys thick in my nose. Now I could feel the ache in my collar bone and I closed my eyes against it, feeling those intense green eyes cutting into me from across the room.
“Malfoy,” the deep voice finally broke the silence and I couldn’t even bring myself to open my eyes in response, “Is there someone I can contact for you?” it was so quiet in this room compared to the chaos from earlier, each word he spoke was like the strike of a hammer and he sounded so fucking sincere it actually roused me enough to answer.
“Why are you still here, Potter?” I barely recognized the sound of my own voice, rough and dead, almost to the point where the words lost their meaning. Go away, go away, go away…there was a pause, a stillness filled with anxious energy that I had not the strength or inclination to address before it was broken again.
“Do you need anyth—” Merlin, the man couldn’t take a hint. Somewhere under the unfeeling deadness weighing down my chest, there was irritation and impatience and the undeniable need to be alone. I cut him off before he could continue.
“Fuck off…please,” I don’t know what he heard in my voice that time but whatever it was silenced him for a long time. I could picture him though, standing awkwardly against the far wall, hair sticking up in every direction, looking lost and helpless with those big green eyes of his that were just so concerned. Had I cared enough, it would have made me furious. He waited so long, I thought he might have left but then there was a swish of robes and a soft sigh.
“I’ll come back tomorrow, Malfoy,” he said quietly, almost sounding regretful and I thought about sneering. In the end I didn’t, just pressed my face harder into the unforgiving pillow and wrapped my arms tightly around myself, uncaring of the twinge of pain the action brought with it.
“Don’t bother,” I whispered but he was already gone, leaving me alone. Alone, for good I thought and remembered Blaise’s face as it had been in life, dark, beautiful, alive with some inner joke only he seemed to know the punch line to. And then again, only this time he was dead, single eye staring blankly up at the sky, dark hair spread around him like some tragic halo.
This pain I felt, it went all the way down to my bones, and as I squeezed my eyes shut as tightly as I could, I wondered where all my tears had gone.