Title: kings among runaways
Summary: Later, the toast will be slightly overcooked, Draco will burn the eggs, and there will be another fist fight in-between the living room and the front door, but they’ll eat breakfast with second-hand plates and Draco’s great-grandmother’s silverware.
Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters herein are the property of J.K. Rowling and Bloomsbury/Scholastic. No copyright infringement is intended.
Deathly Hallows compliant? DH compliant, without the epilogue or any of the things JKR’s mentioned in interviews.
Word Count: 2651
Author's Notes: For the lovely fourth_rose, who asked for “angst with a happy or at least hopeful ending”. I’m such a big fan of your writing, and I really hope that you enjoy this! Many thanks to taradiane for the kind suggestions and encouragement!
The manor is empty, streaks of dust on the hardwood floor, spider webs and ghosts in the corners. Draco’s dragging the dining table into the backyard, next to the chairs, couches, bed frames and mattresses piled on the edges of the garden. His mum’s in the kitchen, breaking glasses, plates and teacups (the white and blue china ones that belonged to his mother’s mother), and the portraits in the entryway are stuffed inside an old trunk and buried underneath boxes in the hall closet. There’s nothing left in the cellar. His mother brings out a nearly empty box of matches, and Draco takes it from her with shaking fingers. He strikes a match against the worn edge, and places it next to the fingerprints and bloodstains (invisible or visible) on the dining table. He shakes out the match, tosses it onto the pile. The flame catches on the splinters of wood and the bits of torn newspaper, and if he squints, the cracks and sparks almost look like fireworks. He sits down on the back steps and watches it burn.
He leaves the mirror over the fireplace, slightly cracked and smeared with fingerprints, when he walks through the empty living room and almost does not recognize himself.
Harry shuffles his feet; he stares at the ground, the small purple flowers clumped together like moss underneath his trainers, and the murmur of low voices on the edge of hearing. He can count the days since the war ended on his left hand (with a few fingers remaining) and the florists in Hogsmeade are nearly empty of flowers. He’s clutching an awkward bouquet of wildflowers for Lupin-and-Fred-and-Colin-and-Tonks-and-T
The trials for war crimes start a week later. Too soon, Ron had muttered around dry toast. Hermione had reached over his shoulder for the marmalade, slipping the Daily Prophet underneath her plate. The government only gets things together when there is someone else to blame, she had said. Harry (between Ron and Hermione and across from Fred and Ginny) had just stared at his cold tea.
Harry’s the only witness for most of the trials. Hermione and Ron are at his elbows, and although the courtroom is nearly silent, Harry can hear the unspoken words (you have outlived your purpose) hovering between the stands and the table in front of him. Kingsley’s standing near the podium, a deep crease between his eyebrows. Against everyone’s expectations, Kingsley has managed to push a few reforms through the red-tape. He’s even managed to remove the Dementors from Azkaban. It’ll be more like a Muggle prison, now, Hermione whispers. Not that that’s any better, Ron finishes, hands stuffed in his pockets. Harry’s leaning with his head in his hands, trying to pay attention to the details, even though he’s sure he knows them already. He’s cut off during the trial against Thicknesse for yelling Voldemort’s name across the courtroom, and he should not be surprised, but he had half-hoped that things would change after the war.
He interrupts the judge during the Malfoy’s trial, and tries to ignore the set of Lucius Malfoy’s shoulders, Narcissa’s white knuckles against the table and Draco’s blank eyes. He ends up shouting across the room, (trying to barter without evidence, and throw the weight of his fame around) until his voice is hoarse and Hermione starts tugging on his elbows, pulling him down.
After, Harry throws up in the third-floor bathroom. He sticks his head under the faucet, panting and gripping the edges of the sink. Even with Harry’s statement, Lucius Malfoy was charged with crimes against Muggle-borns (and Wizards, Ron had added), and was sentenced to ten years in Azkaban. Both Narcissa and Draco had been forbidden to use magic for an indefinite period of time.
The door opens, closes and Harry catches Draco’s reflection in the mirror even without his glasses. He spits into the sink again, and runs his hand over his face. Draco does not say anything, just waits and it’s such a parody of what happened sixth year that Harry has to bite his lip as he slides on his glasses.
He hesitates and tosses Draco’s wand across the room, and it’s (literally) the least that he can do. Draco catches it, his eyes wide and his lips slightly parted. Harry thinks he should have done this a long time ago. It’s silent for a few moments, except for the dripping water from the faucet, the murmur of voices in the corridor.
I don’t need your pity, Draco says finally.
It’s not. Believe me, it’s not. Harry’s looking up at the ceiling, but his eyes are closed and his fists are clenched. I almost wish it was.
A click; the door closes. Harry collapses against the sink, slides towards the tile floor. He’s losing feeling in his fingers, and there’s wet hair dripping in his eyes. He listens to the footsteps walking down the hallway and he wonders which one of them changed.
Yaxley and the Ministry must have torn Grimmauld Place apart looking for some kind of evidence earlier that year, and the Fidelus Charm on the house ended the second he stepped inside the wards. Sirius’ room looks about the same, (the Permanent Sticking Charm, he remembers), except for the cracked frame on the photograph of Sirius, his father, Lupin and Pettigrew, the ripped velvet curtains, and the torn wallpaper. Half of the plates in the kitchen are shattered in the sink, and almost all of the teacups are chipped and cracking. There are still faint spider webs in the corners of the house, the seventh step on the staircase still slightly creaks, and the house still smells stale and empty.
The day after the trial, Harry moves the heaps of letters and takeaway piled on the kitchen table, cleans out the fridge, and dusts in the living room. He tries to pile all of the shattered photographs into boxes and sweeps the shards of the chandelier and the dust underneath the furniture. Afterwards, he sits against a corner in Sirius’ room and thinks about repainting the walls.
Draco stands between his mother and Andromeda Tonks at Bellatrix Lestrange’s funeral. Andromeda’s holding a baby with turquoise hair that keeps making faces at Draco during the service, and he has to stop himself from returning the looks. His mother (lips tightly pressed together) does not look anywhere but at the grave.
Draco makes dinner for them later, and barely manages not to burn anything. The room is quiet. His mother has not said a word since the trial. She communicates with the brush of her fingers against the back of Draco’s hand, or the side of his face and he has learned to read the curve of her lips. Draco scrapes his silverware against his plate and drags his chair against the floor as he leaves to do the dishes just to break the silence before his mother’s bedroom door closes. Sometimes he stays up and stares at the cracked ceiling in his room, and wonders how he had thought he’d managed to dull, dilute and drain his compassion.
Harry’s digging through boxes in the attic when he finds a trunk full of photographs (his mother-and-his father-and-Sirius-and-Lupin-and-Pettigre
He escapes to Shell Cottage, and sits between the white foam breaking against the rocks and the whitewashed cliff. Bill and Fleur let him sleep in one of the guest bedrooms for a few days, without (too many) questions and he spends the time wrapped in one of Bill’s old sweaters, legs dangling over the water until the sky bleeds from blue to black.
Draco wakes to the sound of rain. There’s a dim patter on the roof tiles, a crackling against the footpath outside and the faint thud of rain against the window and Draco pulls the sheets over his head and dreams of quiet nights in a small cottage outside of Newcastle, the hiss of waves outside his room, and long nights watching Snape’s hands.
He sleeps until noon.
Harry’s standing in front of the fridge. There’s a bit of blue paint in his hair and underneath his fingernails, but the master bedroom is almost finished. He sniffs at the milk, makes a face, and tosses it into the garbage bin. He has leftover takeaway curry for lunch and swallows it down with cold tea in a chipped china teacup. He’s not sure if he likes the colour of the paint yet. He had considered asking Hermione, but he’d just closed his eyes and pointed instead. He’d started with Sirius’ room first, just painting awkwardly around the posters and photographs (he leaves Regulus room and the trunk in the attic alone, and he smears red paint over the painting of Walburga Black in the living room).
After lunch, there’s knock on the front door and he opens it with flecks of red paint on his nose, blue smears on the frames of his glasses, paint cans in his hands, and a paintbrush balanced between his teeth as he stares at Draco Malfoy’s startled face.
Draco holds the door open with his foot. I just wanted to thank--, Draco starts, with tired eyes and the words slipping through gritted teeth but Harry just cuts him off and invites him in for tea instead. (Draco eyes the paint caked onto Harry’s fingers and refuses).
Harry’s in the Weasley’s kitchen with Hermione and Ron, cooking spaghetti and and comparing scars. Hermione tugs at the edge of her jumper, pulls it up a few inches, and smiles at Ron’s red ears and the flush across Harry’s cheekbones. There’s a mark just below her ribs, but it’s faded since last June, and a thin line just under her chin. Ron coughs, embarrassed, and rolls up his sleeves. The scars are still there, he explains, running his index finger along the lines, but apparently that’s normal. It doesn’t hurt, and there’s no dark magic or anything left, so that’s all right.
Harry pulls down the collar of his t-shirt a few inches to reveal a small, white scar against his collarbone. Killing Curse, he explains. (The second one, he adds a few moments later). Ron says nothing, and Hermione stirs the sauce, adding a bit of garlic and a splash of wine.
After dinner, Harry sits on the back porch listening to the dripdrip of water from the gutter and the crackle of rain against the roof.
The rain stops and Harry looks up at a tattered umbrella. You’ll catch a cold, Hermione says, turning the handle just a little so that water pours onto his glasses. Harry smiles, spits rainwater. She sits down on the back steps with him, resting her wrist against his shoulder to hold the umbrella above their heads. Do you still have nightmares, she asks after a few heartbeats and the words echo slightly underneath the umbrella and the muffled rain. He does not reply at first, just counts the specks of white on his fingernails (three on his left hand, one on his right).
Sometimes, he admits. It’s strange, though. I think this is the first time I’ve had nightmares that are mine. For the last seven years, he’s been dreaming someone else’s dreams, and he finds he doesn’t like to admit that he’s afraid of dreams that he created for himself (conscious or otherwise).
You know, she says, that’s actually quite normal. She smiles and reaches over to take his hand. The laugh catches in Harry’s throat, and he leans against her with shaking shoulders, hands pressed over his eyes.
Draco’s sitting at the kitchen table, watching Harry set grocery bags down on the kitchen counter. He’d shown up on Harry’s doorstep five minutes earlier, demanding coffee and insisting that Harry owes him breakfast from some incident four or five years earlier (Harry decides to ignore the bottle of wine Draco sets by fridge, an awkward textbook gesture).
How domestic, Draco murmurs between sips, and Harry’s almost sure that he’s not just talking about grocery shopping. The paint on the kitchen walls is still drying, dripping slowly towards the tiles, and there’s a pile of unwashed dishes in the sink. You don’t have to stay, Harry says, not bothering to look over his shoulder for a reaction. There’s a scrape of the chair against the floor, and Harry’s surprised when Draco leans over his shoulder, their elbows brushing. You know how to cook? Harry asks. Draco’s digging through the paper bags, glancing at labels and trying to open the carton of milk. Well enough, Draco starts, before correcting himself and sneering at Harry’s grocery list.
Later, the toast will be slightly overcooked, Draco will burn the eggs, and there will be another fist fight in-between the living room and the front door. Harry’s hands will grip Draco’s collar (the fabric wrinkling under his fingertips) until Draco’s pressed against the wall, eyes looking at something past Harry’s shoulder. The remains of Harry’s coffee will drip down the wall, rivers and streams of that connect at the pile of shattered ceramic pieces on the floor. Draco’s hands will be shaking, and Harry’ll leave small half-circles on Draco’s forearm. But for now, they’ll eat breakfast with second-hand plates and Draco’s great-grandmother’s silverware.
Draco’s playing the piano in the living room while Harry repaints the entryway. Draco’s been showing up every other day for the last week, sometimes with lunch, and sometimes he’ll just wait expectantly until Harry makes sandwiches and tries to make amends. Draco never stays more than a few hours, before complaining about the smell or the colour of the paint and walking out of the door.
That’s Chopin, right, Harry asks from the doorway, hands wrapped around two mugs of coffee (Harry drinks his coffee black, poured straight from the pot and nearly scalding his lips. Draco drinks his with sugar and milk and nearly always expects biscuits).
Cepheus Black, Draco corrects, with a faint frown as Harry raises his eyebrows slightly. There’s a click of a fingernail over an F sharp, and Harry walks in, sitting down on the piano bench next to him. Draco pauses for a moment before starting to play again, and Harry hums Etude in E major along with the press of ivory keys, leaning slightly against Draco’s elbow. The piece starts to fall apart, then, when the D sticks and his fingers trip over an octave, and Harry leaves the coffee on the piano bench before he leaves.
A few weeks later, Hermione and Ron drag Harry to Brighton. They spend the day ducking into ice cream parlors, souvenir shops and fish-and-chip vendors. Later, Hermione and Ron grab the back of Harry’s t-shirt and tug him towards the water. Harry tries to grip the dock with his feet, tries to say I’m not very, or I can’t--
There’s a surprised yelp, a shout, a shriek and three splashes. Harry surfaces, spluttering, but Ron grabs his elbow lightly in a boyish gesture and Hermione’s fingers are wrapped tightly around his wrist. He grins, breathless and spitting foam, and ducks under the waves. The sun falls into the ocean, and the sky explodes. Hermione tucks hair behind her ears, and lets waves crash, retreat against her ankles. Harry digs up a bit of driftwood, drags it along the sand and connects the lines. Hermione borrows it a little while later, and Ron tells her she’s being a girl and wouldn’t the tide wash it away, but she just smiles (the ironic sort) and scratches three initials and a date. And Harry digs his toes into cold sand and watches the push, pull of waves edging towards his feet.
Draco’s sitting on the kitchen counter, dangling his legs against the cabinets when Harry walks in from the living room. Let’s make bouillabaisse tonight, he says, (more arrogant than elegant) and Harry shuts the door behind him.