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: Thanks to those of you who commented again! They keep me inspired <3<3 Should be working on my Big Bang fic...it's not going so good -__- Oh well. I hope you all like this next chapter! It's divided into two parts due to length. Thanks and remember comments are always well loved!
All our hopes and prayers are with Japan. We love you and are rooting for you from the depths of our hearts.
Part 3: This Street of Broken Dreams
“I can’t wait all my life, on a street of broken dreams” ~ Journey
Number 12 Grimmuald Place was an oddly fascinating house.
Though the outside of it looked like all of the other Muggle homes on the street, once inside it was both unique and alluring. While it was clear it had been allowed to fall into disrepair, Potter had recently started to remodel. The last time I had seen it was when I was a child and I recalled how everything had been some shade of dark brown, green or black. No other color could be found anywhere in the house and, having grown up in the Manor that had been fairly constructed from light, it had scared my seven-year-old self. Not to mention my great Aunt had been terrifying. The Black family had once taken pride in the darkness of both their name and their past and it had shown in the design of their house.
There were rooms where the old, dark elegance was still in evidence. It was a four-floor house, not including the attic and the basement so a full remodel would undoubtedly take a fair amount of time. But that was what made it so interesting. The clash of dark and musty with new and bright rooms that had already been redone gave the house character it didn’t have before. At first I had not cared one whit about the house. But then, when I started to listlessly explore the rooms for lack of anything better to do, I found myself taken with it.
The kitchen I remember being dank and dreary had been completely stripped and gutted. The once damp stone walls had been scrubbed obsessively, revealing their light grayish blue color underneath. The counters that I vaguely recall being made out of some kind of onyx were now white marble and all the cabinets and cupboards were made of pale birch wood. In the middle sat a long, white table with twelve chairs that marched at its sides, the cushions on them pale blue. Though there were no windows, Potter had little globes of light lining the ceiling and clinging to the walls that banished any shadows from the corners. What made it even better was the narrow entryway that was still all black paneling and dark wood floors. Sometimes, I would sit on the bottom step that led into the kitchen with my morning cup of tea and would watch the lights twinkle to themselves. There was something oddly comforting about the way the darkness gave way to the light and I liked sitting in that point of transition.
The room I had picked to sleep in was a lot like that. Potter told me it used to be my cousin Regulus’s old bedroom and he had only changed some of it. The walls were still a deep, dark green with little black curling patterns running along its borders and the furniture was still deep mahogany with heavy frames. But the floor was made of light wood planks covered with a colorful area rug. The linins on the bed and window were pale green embroidered with fine gold and there was a large mirror hung on the wall directly across from the window that brightened the room considerably. It was dark and light blended together and I found myself able to sleep better than I had since Blaise died. I had nightmares still, but they were muted, bearable.
There were other rooms like that in the house. The parlor on the first floor was all whites and blues with little accents of onyx and dark sea green left over from the original room. The sitting room was the same, only instead of white and blue, it was frosty purples and silver. Even the library, that instantly became my favorite room in the house, had been treated thus. Potter had kept all the original shelves of ebony but where the walls were visible, they were made entirely of stained glass. Behind the glass he had spelled light to shine whenever someone walked into the room. The ceiling was dropped on the sides but in the middle was a towering dome, also made of colored glass. In the middle of it hung a cluster of bright, dancing fairy lights. The construction and magic that must have gone into making that room was incredible, especially since the library was on the second floor, making a domed ceiling impossible without extensive spell work. I could spend hours in it a day, seeking out the comfort of its little out coves and studying the swirling patterns in the glass.
Perhaps it was because Grimmuald Place was so different from the flat Blaise and I had shared that made it so easy to be in. I had been leery at first, of its lack of natural light and of its lingering shadowed corners. In fact, in the first couple days, I nearly talked myself into leaving a total of twelve times. I would even stand before the closed door, staring at it as if I was willing it to open of its own accord to set me free. Not that Potter had locked me in here, because he hadn’t. Maybe that was why I felt like I needed to run away. I didn’t want his kindness or his compassion and that was what he had given me. A place to stay away from the memories with an open door through which I could leave at any time and a standing invitation to come back should I wish to. But when the door didn’t open on its own, I would turn away and walk back into the house; would sit down with a book in the library or under the bright lights in the kitchen.
For some reason, I could not bring myself to open the door and walk out myself. I felt I could only do it if someone else gave me a push. Whether it was from the comfort of being in a place I had not been while Blaise was alive or the fact that it belonged to someone else, I don’t know. Whatever it was, I could not obey my mind and leave.
The first time I stepped into the front hall one week ago, only a few steps behind Potter, I had exclaimed in surprise. I knew that he owned the old Black ancestral home but I did not think that was where he would bring me.
“Here?” I had asked in surprise, instantly recognizing it even though the hallway had been redone and was now warm and full of light instead of sinister like I remembered. The other man had looked at me quickly over his shoulder, green eyes piercing behind the shine of his glasses.
“You know this place?” he had asked and I wondered if he knew that my mother had also been a Black before she had married. We had only visited three times when I was young but it was hard to forget a place like this. I stepped away from the door so Potter could shut it, looking around as I did. The walls were, of all things, orange and the nasty house elf heads were gone from the walls and I had thought then that it must have taken a miracle to change it this much.
“My mother was your godfather’s cousin,” I responded, still distracted by the house to look at him properly. He had nodded, comprehension dawning on his face and then surprised me by offering to take my jacket. That caught my attention and I had looked at his outstretched hand warily, wrapping my arms around myself. Following him here had been thoughtless and I knew then the sooner I backed away the better, “I wasn’t going to come with you,” I said, watching his open expression from the corner of my eye. He had dropped his hand but he wasn’t offended. Instead he tilted his head, an action I quickly learned he did when he was curious or puzzled.
“Then why did you?” he had asked and I hated that I could not answer that for myself let alone him. When I had shrugged and refused to meet his eye, I thought that he might have smiled. I could not be sure for when I looked back his features were once again calm, compassion filling his eyes. The sudden urge to punch him came back like a battering storm then and I had to grit my teeth against it.
“I don’t know,” he didn’t flinch when I snapped at him. In fact he didn’t really react at all. He just nodded his wild head and wisely did not respond in kind. For some reason, I wished he would have. I wished for a moment that we could have gone back to how we were in school, snarling and raging at one another like two wolves. I wondered if our endless circling would pick up again, once he had gotten sick of being nice out of some misplaced sympathy.
“You can stay here for as long as you like,” he had said instead, making me stomp on my frustration, “I have a house elf but I don’t really use him much and he mostly stays here. His name his Kreacher so if you need anything, just call for him. I will tell him to treat you as a guest. Also, the bedroom I use is the end room on the second floor so feel free to pick any of the others,” Potter scrubbed his fingers through his hair and his eyes crinkled on a smile, “There are plenty, I assure you,” He sounded just like the perfect host and I wondered if my being there was as strange for him as it was for me. If it was, he was doing an excellent job of hiding it. Once again, I seriously thought of leaving. I stared at the closed door that was still within reach. All I needed to do was reach out and twist the knob.
“Why are you doing this, Potter?” my voice was soft but I could tell he heard the bite in it by the way he crossed his arms over his chest, “What do you get out of it? Is it some kind of plot for revenge? Or are you getting a kick out of seeing me so miserable?” I swung around to face him and I was shocked at the flash of hurt that darkened his face. No, that wasn’t right, I thought myself. He’s too much of a Gryffindor to think of something like that. I sneered at him, “Or are you really that noble?” the look on his face suddenly turned sad.
“I’m not all that noble, Malfoy,” he responded quietly, leaving me completely at a loss. What the fuck was I supposed to do with that? I wanted to hurt him, to punch him, to make him feel what I felt but save for a few unsatisfying flickers, he refused to play along. He had looked at me another moment longer, hands now hidden deep in his pockets before he turned to the door.
“Hey…where are you going?” I had blurted, suddenly afraid of being left on my own. Not that I wanted his company, for it was confusing and tiring but the silence was even more terrifying. His eyebrows were raised in surprise and I realized how needy I had just come across. Quickly, I lifted my chin and refused to take the question back.
“I...actually live somewhere else,” he said slowly, eyes flickering away as if he wanted to hide something. I filed it away for future reference; “I just couldn’t get rid of this house, since it was Sirius’s. I thought that by fixing it up I could pay a small tribute to his memory. I think he would have liked that,” Potter’s smile was soft and real and I had to look away from it in confusion. It was a smile I should never have to see on his face, so raw, so open. But I had seen it and I hated how I wanted to keep seeing it. I was supposed to want to dash it away with my fist, not hope to see more.
“But you’ll let me stay here,” I said flatly, hating my confusion and him for causing it. I suddenly wanted Blaise there with me so badly, I felt dizzy from it. He would have been better at this. He would have known how handle Potter and his guileless compassion that he kept forcing on me. Of course, I could have said no to it as well but I hadn’t and that was the whole crux of the problem.
“Yeah, I already said you could,” he gave me an odd little look that I couldn’t decipher and stepped out onto the stoop outside. I followed to the doorway, as if to leave as well but I stopped just inside. I knew, knew with every fiber of my being, that I should just go. But I didn’t. Again. His eyes were very green as he lifted his hand.
“Where do you live, then,” I had asked quickly as he walked down the steps and he turned around again as he reached the bottom. The streetlights threw odd shadows onto his face, making him look like another person. It was eerie and I put my arms around myself, suddenly cold.
“Godric’s Hollow. It was my parent’s house,” when he flashed me a smile this time, I almost returned it, “Goodnight Malfoy,” and in the next breath, he was gone.
That had been a week ago and I had not seen him since.
In that time, I had been able to explore all of the rooms in Grimmuald Place several times over, barring Potter’s, of course. I had thought about trespassing there several times but my curiosity wasn’t strong enough to overcome my wariness. Being there by myself was a bit lonely, yes, but it was better than wandering around London at night completely pissed out of my mind until I passed out in some hotel room somewhere to sleep off the hangover. If I still craved the oblivion at night, when I felt my grief the keenest, it was easy to find the liquor cabinet. At least then, if I woke up blurrily on the couch or even floor with an aching head, I was close enough to a hangover potion. And I felt safer here, though I could not think why. I shouldn’t feel safe in a house that belonged to a man I was supposed to actively dislike yet I did. Perhaps because it was so different than any other home I had been in. The Manor was never dark, even at night and Hogwarts had been both dark and full of life. There had been a couple other flats before Blaise and I had found the perfect one and none of those were anything like here.
I wasn’t sure what to make of that.
On the seventh day Potter had been gone, I had awoken from a dream about Blaise with a gasp, tears dripping into my hair. I always dreamed about him, every night, sometimes about when he was alive, sometimes about…after. That night I had dreamed about his funeral.
It had taken place the day after I followed Potter to Grimmuald Place, the only day I had ventured from its walls. I had walked into the kitchen to find a small, golden owl sitting patiently at the table, a red envelope sitting in front of it while it watched me ascend into the room. It was an odd little creature, it’s feathers almost metallic and its eyes almost the same color. When I reached for the letter, it gave a soft hoot and surprised me by fluttering silently up to perch on my shoulder.
“Well, hello there,” I murmured, peering at it out of the corner of my eye, just in case it actually had some malicious intent. But it just ruffled its feathers and was content to sit there, the edges of its soft wings brushing against my neck. I had smiled then, the first real one in five days and something cold and tight had eased just a little bit in my chest.
The letter, when I opened it, was from Potter. I recognized his unruly slant immediately. The sight of it wiped away my smile as quickly as it had come but not because it was unwelcome. The slow feeling of warmth suffusing my chest that came along with it was.
I know you have been distraught these past couple days, which is understandable, so I took the liberty of seeing to Blaise’s funeral. It is to be today at noon in his family’s plot near Bath. I would have informed you sooner but I was just able to arrange the details and could not get them for another day. If I could come with you, I would but something has come up at work and I cannot get away.
Should you wish to return to Grimmuald Place, I have attuned the wards to your signature and they will allow you to Apparate directly into the house. You are welcome to stay for as long as you need.
I had to sit down in the middle of reading, the sinking horror washing over me making me feel faint. In my need to run away from reality in a failed attempt to escape what had happened, I had completely forgotten about the funeral. Now Potter had done what I should have and that was just another thing I owed him. But more than that, I had forgotten. Guilt and angry grief stole over me like a surge of the tide, making the world tilt around me and the air solidify painfully in my chest. How could I have forgotten about Blaise’s funeral?
The sob that broke from my chest startled me but even when I clapped my hand over my mouth, the sudden overflow of anguish didn’t stop. It flowed, salty and wet over my wrist and ripped sounds from my throat that I did not even know I could make. The shaking of my shoulders dislodged the little owl who gave a distressed cry before flying off. I watched him through my blurred vision and tried to still my weeping but it had become a storm. Even when my stomach cramped from it and I was doubled over, arms wrapped around my torso, I continued to cry. Tears and snot and drool all dripped from my chin onto the floor and I could not stop.
The more I thought about Blaise, dead and to be buried later that day, my beautiful Blaise, I only wept harder. Wept until the weak, gasping sobs became screams, until I thought I would simply pass out for lack of air, until I started to gag on the sobs. Blood roared in my ears and my heart pounded with the effort of it. But I could not stop.
“…Master Draco! Master Draco, what being wrong?!” I almost didn’t notice Potter’s dotty little house elf that he had left with me, even though he was practically in my face and yelling to get my attention. I think that if it had not been for him, I would have kept crying with all the violence of my grief pouring out of me until I died. I was close to actually vomiting by then, or passing out, when a boney hand was placed over my eyes, blocking out the bright kitchen, “Kreacher is sorry about this Master Draco. Please sleep for a bit,”
The last thing I remember thinking before anguish deepened into unnatural slumber was how despicable I was for forgetting.
With the flooding outpour of grief, when I finally arrived at the small cemetery later that day, all I felt was drained. It was a warm day, with very few clouds scuttling across the sky and the sun hurt my eyes as I walked up the hill to the entrance. It was so quite here, outside of London. Though I was used to the silence just from being alone, the quite in the country was different than that in the city. It felt less constricted. All those people that surrounded me in the city and I had felt so alone, I could have been isolated by oceans. But this was different. Here the loneliness was more pure, more direct. It didn’t make me feel like I needed to run away. It made me feel like I had run away and had simply accomplished nothing by it.
The cemetery was very different than the Malfoy plot was in that it was not kept on Zabini property. Whereas our Manor had been there for centuries, Blaise’s family had kept many residencies over the years. The family cemetery, however, remained where the first house had been, back when the Zabini name had first become a prestigious pureblood line. The manor that had been attached could still be seen from the top of the hill but it belonged to wealthy Muggles now and the plot had been warded off to keep unwanted visitors away. It was a pretty little place too, all grass and tall, old evergreen trees that offered dark, cool shade from the sun. The breeze hissed through the needles, filling the air with the sound and I paused at the entrance, taking a deep breath of their rich scent.
Wizarding funerals were different from Muggle ones, I am lead to believe, because we do not have priests to say the farewell prayers at the burial sight. No one but loved ones attend the burial of a witch or wizard and nothing is ever said until the coffin finishes turning to ash in the open grave and the ground is filled back in. For this reason, I expected to be the only one attending. Thus, I was surprised to see another figure standing at the far end of the cemetery, before a mound of dirt and a dark, shiny casket.
Mrs. Zabini merely looked at me when I stepped up next to her. She was still quite beautiful, looking very much like her son and my heart clenched. Black ringlets cascaded down her back and caught in the fragrant wind and the sun reflected in her light hazel eyes. Eyes that were red and puffy to match my own. Though Blaise had never been very close with his mother, who had gone off to Europe to secure a husband shortly after we had started at Hogwarts, there had never been any bad blood between them. In fact, they wrote to each other regularly, up until Blaise died. I had simply forgotten about her and the fact that she would want to see her son buried, so wrapped up in my own pain as I was.
We didn’t exchange words. We simply looked at the casket in which lay our lovely Blaise, hovering over the hole in the ground and covered in apple branches, the little white flowers stark against the dark wood. Blaise was in there, I thought listlessly and then corrected myself. No, he had moved on already. All that was left was his broken husk, waiting to be burned and returned to the earth.
I was the one who raised my wand to cast the Incendio. Whitish flames leapt from the end of my wand and engulfed the coffin, hiding it from view and filling the air with the scent of burning apple wood. When Mrs. Zabini grabbed my hand and held on so tight, my fingertips went numb, I didn’t pull away.
And we watched until the last ember died and the ashes were allowed to drop into the earth. Only then, when the hole was filled on top of Blaise’s ashes and the simple white headstone was put in place did we let go. There were tears in his mother’s eyes when they met my own and I was suddenly very glad I had broken down as I did earlier. I suspected that if I hadn’t been completely drained of my tears, I would have broken right there. Her hair caught on her full lips and clear tears soaked into the fly away strands when they fell.
“Thank you for loving my son,” her voice was soft with a hint of accent as will happen sometimes when one spends a lot of time in a different country. They were not words that I expected to hear and they pierced through my chest like barbed arrows. I knew her thanks was genuine but I could not help but think I had not loved him enough. Maybe if I had, this would not have happened. I reached up and brushed the hair and the tears from her face, my skin looking nearly white against her dark skin. Just as it had when I had touched her son. She smiled at the gesture.
“It was…not enough time…” my voice was creaky and hoarse, making me wince to hear it but she simply caught my hand and held it in both of hers. Both her fingers and her eyes were warm.
“It was enough for him. I could tell, in the letters he wrote me, how very happy he was with you,” and despite how much I had cried before, the ache was back as were the tears, filling my eyes and making cold tracks down my cheeks. I did not want to cry in front of her but when I tried to look away, she freed one of her hands from around mine and turned my chin back, “I just want you to know that though Blaise was admittedly raised to be selfish, he would not want you to grieve for him forever,” I closed my eyes, not wanting to acknowledge her words even if they were true and didn’t open them until she stepped away, “Just think about it,”
One last smile and she was gone.
I stood in front of that gravestone, the one that said Blaise Zabini, 1980-2000, until the air grew chilled and the sun began to reach for the embrace of the horizon. Long enough that my stiff muscles ached as I crouched down in front of it and pressed a kiss to the cold stone with a whispered, “I miss you.” Only then, with a heavy heart did I Apparate back to Grimmuald Place.
The lonely silence was nearly crushing and all I wanted was to go back to sleep but there was still one more thing to do. Before the funeral, I had taken a detour to Diagon Alley to purchase a pure silver bowl, a vile of unicorn tears, a stick of crimson wax and a small ritual knife. Along with a sprig of apple blossom, I carried them all out into the little yard behind the house that was full of Kreacher’s flowers and knelt on a patch of grass. There, I spread out everything out, the tears tipped into the bowl and everything else on the grass beside it. Though it was already dark, the lights from the house spilled into the back yard, giving me enough light to see by. It was a warm light, gold and soupy and I was glad for it.
The Leaving Ceremony was a ritual every pureblood did after a loved one had passed away. It was a simple ritual but it was believed that once done, the deceased soul was given easier passage into the next life and their magic was returned to the great well every magic user tapped from. Again, no words were said, not until the very end.
I took a deep breath and broke the stick of wax into thirds so it would fit in the bowl with the unicorn tears. It clunked at the bottom of the bowl, looking obscene against the pure, clear liquid. Next I lifted the knife and held it to my opposite palm over the bowl. The pain was minimal for the cut was not that deep and once the unicorn tears were dyed completely red, I wrapped my hand in a cloth I had brought with me just for that reason, stemming the flow. On top of the red liquid, the apple blossoms looked like flakes of snow.
“Blaise Zabini nomen eius. Liberabis animam eius, excipint essentia, reddidit terram magica,” (his name is …Free his soul, accept his essence, return his magic to the earth) the words I had been made to memorize when I was young and though I had not recited them in some time, they flowed from my tongue with gentle ease. The crimson liquid in the bowl shifted, the white petals sucked into its depths. Slowly, it reformed itself, solidifying and becoming a long, thin candle that was black as pitch. I lifted it from the bowl, which was now empty and gleaming in the spill of light. My breath on the wick acted like a spark and a small, white flame flickered into being.
“Vale,” (farewell) I whispered and just like that it was done.
Now, six days later, that very candle burned steadily upon the nightstand beside my bed. It would continue to burn for a full three months, the flame never wavering and the wax never melting. In that time, I was to mourn my lover. Three months was not nearly long enough. Right now, it felt as if forever wouldn’t be long enough.
When I woke from the nightmare, the candle was the first thing I saw and I had to look away. I had dreamed of that day we had laid Blaise to rest but when we burned his casket, I could see his face as it was consumed. Could see his flesh bubbling and peeling, could see the bone underneath blackening as the flames licked at it.
Just remembering it made me nauseous and I slipped out of bed, knowing I would not sleep again that night. It was like this every night I didn’t pass out from too much alcohol. Sometimes I would dream about the day he was killed. Once he came to me as a ghost, his face torn apart and screamed at me, blaming me for letting it happen. Now it was the funeral. I rubbed my fingers through my tangled hair, a dull pain pulsing slowly at my temples before stealing through the darkened house to the kitchen where the lights only dimmed, as Kreacher had informed me, if the house was entirely empty.
“Master Draco not being sleeping well,” was the greeting I received as soon as I stepped into the warm glow of the kitchen. At once the tension in my shoulders eased a bit, relieved to be in the light again, and I nodded to Kreacher where he already stood in front of the stove where a teakettle was starting to steam merrily. He was worried about me, I could tell by the way he refused to take his eyes off me whenever we occupied the same room. I was used to such behavior from growing up with house elves but sometimes I wished they were not so diligent.
“No, Kreacher, I’m not,” I agreed with a sigh, shuffling over to the table and pulling out a chair. The cushions were abnormally soft, no doubt thanks to a charm and I sank into it gratefully. The sleeves of the borrowed nightshirt rode up my arms when I propped my head in my palm and I studied the thin material as I listened to the sounds of Kreacher making me tea.
Everything I wore here was Potter’s. I had no wish to go back to my flat to fetch my own clothes and he had not returned so that I might ask him to swing by for me. I supposed I could have sent the little old house elf, as he would surely love to be of some help. But for some reason, the deep, musky scent of the dark haired man’s clothing made me feel a little less lonely. They were a little baggy in fit, for he was more muscular than I, but the sleeves and trousers were always a scant too short. Yet even though I had to keep pulling down the sleeves, I continued to wear them. It wasn’t like Potter didn’t know, as he had to know I only had the clothes I was wearing when I first came here. Besides, it was Kreacher who put the clothes out for me in the first place.
“Your tea, Master Draco,” a steaming cup was placed in front of me, cloudy from the milk that had been added and I took it with a nod, warming my hands against the heated porcelain. The first sip sent a cascade of soothing heat down my throat and I breathed it the scent of it deeply, reflecting upon how tea always seemed to make everything a little easier to handle. Then I noticed Kreacher still standing beside me at the table, twisting his hands together nervously. I eyed him over my cup through the curls of steam.
“What is it, Kreacher?” I finally asked, taking another fortifying mouthful of tea. He blinked at me and mumbled something I couldn’t make out but which sounded worried.
“Kreacher be wondering if Master Draco would like a potion to help him sleep? Kreacher could be asking Master Harry for some,” the croaking voice was laced with genuine concern and I put my cup down, not quite sure how to respond. I was exhausted from not being able to sleep but, on the other hand, I didn’t want to get dependent on it, which was what happened if sleeping droughts were taken on a regular basis. A moment later I thought that I had no reason not to get addicted to a potion and was about to tell Kreacher that, yes, some sleeping potions would be most welcome.
But then Potter stepped into the room and the words stuck in my throat.
Part 3: b