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An Afternoon In The Afterword - R - Harry/Draco [story time | 9:54 am]
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Title: An Afternoon In The Afterword
Author: sympathetic_ink
Rating: R
Summary: Harry mulls over his relationship with Draco over a cup of coffee in a bookstore.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter books and other trademarks are © by JK Rowling, Little Literacy Agency, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Arthur A. Levine, & Warner Brothers. No profit is being made, it's all good clean fun. Really.

An Afternoon In The Afterword

- for ishuca, in our war of words -

I stir my coffee slowly, trying to drag out the flavour dancing on my nose for as long as possible. It's mocha today, the chocolate powder sprinkled lavishly over the white foam of milk bubbles and essence. I change coffee like I change clothes these days: every hour a new whim and bitter cling to the burning roof of my mouth.

A plain and unfancied paper napkin is slowly shredded through nervousness and the waitresses cool indifference: to her I am just another face in the crowd that does not matter because no one leaves tips these days anyway.

People crowd in from the bookstore downstairs:

Dear Customers,
Please Note That Any Books Are To Be Purchased
Before Taken Upstairs

Everyone makes presumptions these days. I am presumptuous when I arrive too early for coffee, when I know full well that he will be late. He's always late: always makes me feel rushed and hurried, as if I'm just another unimportant time-waster demanding his feigned attention. As if on a scale from one to ten I rate a six-point-two - slightly more important than the slugs he orders around on a daily basis, slightly less important than the American businessmen who want to invest their billions in his strategies and pearl-capped smile.

Hermione's face winks down at me from the wall opposite, the flashing gold-and-red slogan broadcasting an eye-catching slogan: Books Are Our Business!

She always was brilliant, and now runs a chain of very successful bookstores-come-cafes-come-record-shops all over Great Britain, France, Italy, Greece and Spain. She's in Denmark at the moment, discussing financial options for a (hostile) takeover and revamp of a failing wizarding business. There's nothing she can't do.

And suddenly, between sips of cooling coffee and shredded napkin, he's there, all suitcase and shining Italian leather shoes. Hermione bought him those shoes for Christmas a month before and in two months time they'll be out of fashion as spring settles once more on our doorsteps and his half of the bed.

I'll wake up alone again tomorrow, as he runs three miles before breakfast of muesli and chopped fruit. He won't be there to brush my hair out of my eyes, whisper into my naked shoulder with care and diligence.

I make him dinner and feel that he's patting me on the head as I greet him at the door with a kiss, taking his coat and putting it on the floor, hanging his suitcase on it's hook in the hall cupboard. It's cluttered with shoes and my old school trunk, battered and threadbare like my errant heart. I'll pour him a brandy as he sifts through the mail, opening the bills and tossing out the love letters that I keep in an empty shoebox at the back of the closet.

He sits, complains about Roger in Publishing who's stuffed up the latest advertising campaign: tells me about meetings and the call he received from his partner in America. I tune out his talk, an interested look hovering around the edges of my expression, listening instead to the well-cultured voice that belongs at large parties, gallery openings and the opera; all the little annotations that cling to vowels like honeycomb. I wish he would stop talking. I wish for his voice to become that voice again, that husky, just-crawled-out-of-bed voice, inviting, husky, just for me. I wish…

I stir my coffee slowly, nodding, my eyes drawn back to the whirlwind of liquid that I've created; that I'm hoping will just swallow me up. Anything to get me away from here, away from the meaningless conversations, from the cold bed, away from the love we haven't made in months. Away from afternoon coffee and crisp suits, from the kisses he gives me as an afterthought, the husky drawl never wrapping its nimble tendrils of light around me with his rarely thought-of 'I love you'.

I'm so intent on my thoughts that I've stopped nodding automatically, I'm not responding like a good little wife; I'm so lost to my own lamentations. His warm hand covers mine on the cool wrought-iron table, and I startle, flinching under the unfamiliar touch, almost giving into the impulse of pulling my hand away from the caress.

Grey eyes consider me, running his long fingers through my grasp efficiently. He looks to want to say something, but the words seemed to be lodged in his mouth, lodged with time and loneliness.


I can't help it now. I flinch, unable to stop it, waiting for the reprimand, waiting for him to tell me he's got to stay back at the office again tonight, that I shouldn't wait up for him. He's got to stay late at the office to finish some important paperwork, call Australia at nine am their time, fuck his secretary Emily, the one with black hair and blue eyes, write a letter to his father who's rotting his life away in Azkaban.

My eyes stare at the table and his white gold plated watch, the shredded napkin. I can hear him thinking, hear him puzzling me out like the silver contraptions that are littered in his private-office-slash-library at home.

I wait. I wait. Lift my eyes up to him slowly, still waiting.

He doesn't see it...he could never see it. Can't hear me screaming for him behind my silence and stumbling manner, can't tell that I'm trapped in a room full of his friends and his employees and his large house and the million other things that he has to do today. I just want it to be us again.

He sighs. "I have to go. I've got to get back to the office."

I nod, eyes back on the table again, my hand is a feeble claw under his.

"I'll be late tonight, so don't wait up. I've got meeting notes to prepare for tomorrow."

"Do you want me to keep some dinner hot for you?" No, I'll grab some takeaway, between meeting notes and Emily and not think of you, Harry.

"No, I'll grab some takeaway," he frowns when I don't meet his eyes. "But thank you."

He stands, another meaningless coffee afternoon over, picks up his suit case and expensive coat, pulls money out of his wallet and forgets to leave a tip for the waitress who's left our bill while I wasn't paying attention. He looks down on me, stooping, brushes my inky hair away from my eyes, kisses my temple as a well-practiced consideration that doesn't mean anything.

"I love you. See you at home."

Home. A place full of sculpture and paintings, a Baby Grand in the entertaining room that I play Chopsticks on when no one's around, a place full of possibility and no warmth to speak of, or to lie to, or to be good to. The whole house hates me and he can't see it, can't see the looks on his pre-descendants faces when I avoid their eyes. Doors won't open to my touch. Windows slam themselves, trying to catch my fingers. Rooms move, or pretend they aren't there. And he calls it home.

"I loved you too," Wistful, eyes full of silent desperation, standing up to go. "Happy Anniversary, Draco."

And when he returns home that night, with flowers that Emily remembered, he will find me gone. A cold, barren house with no kiss at the front door, no one to hang up his suit case and to pour him a brandy. Just a note on the piano and half an empty wardrobe, just an emptiness that will fill him with staleness while he sits, alone, on the empty bed that is the only thing that leaves an imprint of me anymore.

Maybe he will call Hermione, but she doesn't harbour me. Maybe she will call Ron, but he doesn't speak to me. Maybe one of them will call Ginny, but she will lie and say she doesn't care about me…anymore.

Maybe he will realise that between the silences and the after-words and the coffee, I didn't belong anymore. There was no room for me in his house, in his heart and I will be forever stuck between all the things that he would not say, and all I could not ask.

- finished -