Title: Nothing Nothing There
Summary: Loving someone is difficult; living both with and without that someone is more so.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Warning(s): uh. *spoiler alert* major character death.
Epilogue compliant? I… don’t… think so?
Word Count: 1,534 (I know, my apologies for the shortness!)
Author's Notes: This was inspired by a quote from Ambrose Bierce’s ‘An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge’—“…he had power only to feel, and feeling was torment.” I… bring the gift of angst. *cringe* My beta knows who she is and knows how I love her, and I hope potteresque_ire likes this!
They don’t talk about it, the way things have gone sour between them. It would do nothing to help if they did; they can do naught but accelerate the process, but dread the day things come to a head. They know, both of them, that something is coming. It’s inevitable, inescapable.
Bitterness, anger, fear--fear.
Because they don’t talk, and these things grow between them, swelling, pushing, and they are stubborn, so stubborn. Harry, who won’t give in, will never give in, because he’s strong and he’s sure and he feels he’s right--it’s moral conviction he thinks, lies. Draco, because he’s prideful, refuses to be wrong, to ever admit maybe he’s made a mistake or maybe he should listen every once in a while--it’s knowing best, always, because that’s who he is.
And so they fight and the fights get more and more violent, violence overtaking any and all vestiges of care. Because they care so goddamn much and isn’t that the root of it all, isn’t that ironic. They don’t know what to do with emotion like this, and so they throw everything but this emotion at each other--everything--vases, glasses, books, spells, words--so many words.
It scares them, to be so completely owned by one another, to belong in a way neither has previously known. Hate the things you fear, and fear the unknown. They do. They hate that they feel and they take it out on each other, on the cause of these emotions, because understanding is a hard thing to come by and they don’t actively search for it.
Harry lets it show just for a moment when he’s hurt--Draco regrets it in those seconds, feels that thing under his skin swell up--you idiot, you absolute fucking moron, what do you hope to accomplish, why do you feel the need to do this, to say this, to be this, to do this to him--and then Harry will grow angry, so angry, shouting and gesturing and once--there are fists, wands forgotten. They’re on the floor, rolling, smothering, breathless and furious and so lost, so unbearably lost to rage and sorrow and helplessness and that thing they won’t--can’t--acknowledge.
Draco scrambles for his wand, finds it in his fingers--he Stuns Harry, pushes him away, stands and stalks off into the night without his coat.
Harry’s gone when he gets back, but it’s four days later and he’s not surprised at all.
They drift, and that thing between them--connection--dies, disappears, fades to nothing. Draco doesn’t reach for it, won’t let himself. He is stronger without it, stronger, stronger, he tells himself.
But Harry feels its ghost haunting him the way Sirius does, the way Dumbledore does, the way every soul he’s ever said goodbye to does. Inside of him, each of them latched onto the pieces his soul--their pieces of his soul--and this thing--this fucking thing--won’t let him go, strangles him until he’s left gasping when he wakes, fingers curling into his palms because he will not reach across the empty bed only to touch absence, to find nothing. Nothing.
And then something happens.
Draco stumbles up the stairs, pulled away from whatever menial task he was in the process of--not important, never important, oh god--panting, knowing--there’s a piece that has snapped within him, breaking, shattering--he won’t, he can’t, he doesn’t--but he does, because it has, he is, it’s happening.
He stands, does not fall, does not crumble, steps forward towards the man on the floor and does not breathe as Harry’s heartbeat races--stutters--
The Thing That Once Was But No Longer Is swallows him whole.
He’s dying. He’s dying and he feels it, feels it like he’s never felt anything in his life. It’s cold inside, dark, and he’s slipping back into it, sticky edges clinging to his skin, to his heart--it tries to beat itself away, fast, fast, racing, slowing--slowing--slowing, caught in the molasses of the knowledge he holds within him. Death. Dying.
He’s pushed, he’s pulled, he’s torn piece by piece away from life. No matter how he fights, no matter how he struggles, how he tries--Draco, Draco--effort, effort, begging, pleading--Draco, I can’t--wishing, hoping, dreaming. It’s dark, he can dream, he can dream, he can’t think. Foggy, endless, it’s nothing.
Not dark, not light, not colourless or colourful.
Empty, but full. Full of so many others, so many dreams and lives and people and hopes-hearts-heroes, victims-villains-vacillating, swift, quick, and he is not dead. He is one, he is many, he is there.
He remembers nothing.
Loses the ability to breathe, to feel, to think.
He’s a whisper on the wind, soundless, invisible.
He is Nothing.
The Nothing wraps around him; Draco can’t see it, can’t hear it, but he knows it’s there. There in a way Harry is not, not anymore.
Nobody is quite sure how it happened, why, when precisely. All they do is speak in hushed voices around him, watch him from the corners of their eyes--they’re accusing, they’re suspicious, they’re worried-sympathetic-I’m so sorry for your loss, and, I mean, I know you two weren’t together after, well, you know, but you’re not handling this well, mate.
He’s not handling at all. He refuses to handle.
So he drifts, lets the Nothing blanket him. He finds a kind of comfort in it, feels numbness and doesn’t feel at all, ever, can’t, doesn’t let anything through. But that’s not accurate--the Nothing cannot be broken through by anything--he isn’t in control of it at all, can’t let it do anything.
He lives. Or he breathes, moves, eats, showers, cleans, blinks, closes the door behind him when he gets home. He functions, but he really doesn’t. There’s a part of him that’s swallowed now, swallowed by the Nothing, and there is something in the Nothing, something he recognises, dreams about when he dreams, something he reaches out for and never seems to find.
And his reaching pulls him further in, bit by bit; he withdraws from the world and turns into the Nothing, actively searching for it, deeper--deeper--it’s endless, vast, infinite, and there’s only so much of him. The Nothing could take him whole.
He wants it to take him, wants to give in and stop fighting and let it all happen the way he thinks it should. He is ready, he is scared, he is alone and he cannot see any other option; there is nothing but the Nothing.
And then the Something takes over. The Something sweeps through the Nothing suddenly, a quick stroke as of paint over canvas, smoothing, colouring, changing, and Draco wakes with a gasp, pushed from the numb comfort he’s grown so familiar with into a violent vibrancy he’s forgotten.
The Something is foreign, is... is... familiar in a way he’s never experienced, doesn’t understand. It makes him think of Harry in a different way than the Nothing does, in a way that hurts his chest and makes him close his eyes, in a way that is warm and painful. He feels like the Something is at war with the Nothing, two sides of the same cosmic coin. The Something fights against the Nothing, urges him to fight against the Nothing, and the Nothing thrashes back, strikes out, resists.
He thinks of the way he used to fight with Harry, wonders if the Nothing is something to the Something, if the Something is nothing to the Nothing. If they are the same, if they are afraid, if they'll regret it when one wins.
He wishes now he had let Harry win. Aches. Thinks of the Nothing and the Something in relation to them and they're abstract, unexplainable, but they are also not, not in the least.
He’s caught in the middle, caught in life rather than Other for the first time in months, vacillating between the two and the middle. The middle--a thin strip, a thin little line he toes, totters on, falls off of to one side until the other side reaches for him, grips him, tugs. Flashes of Nothing, flashes of work--groceries--did I get flowers for Harry’s grave, flashes of Something, back to Pansy, I’m fine--where’s my wand--I fucking hate this new law.
And it’s all Harry, all of it. Harry is the Nothing--his absence, Draco’s regret; Harry is the life--missing him, trying to go on, never making the same mistake again; Harry is the Something--I love you, I love you, I love you, I’m sorry I never told you, never showed you, I loved you, love, loved, love....
It is Everything and one day, one day far in the future, Draco will turn to it, finally, to Harry, relieved and no longer afraid, and Everything will change, blending until concepts of nothing and concepts of something cease to be separate, cease to exist, to mean anything at all ever again because without one, there is not the other, and with each other, they are Everything.