Title: Finger Paint
Fandom, Pairing: Harry Potter, implied Harry/Draco
Warnings: character death
Summary: Harry lets go/Draco has a birthday
Contructive criticism is much appreciated!
Disclaimer: The characters and situations of Harry Potter depicted in this story are the legal property of J.K. Rowling,
Written for apapercrane and inspired by scraps of paper which read: “Harry/Draco,” “thunder,” and “‘If only we had a…’”
When Harry saw Draco for the first time since that horrible night in the
Ron leapt up silently and Hermione rolled into a crouch but Harry waved them down. Draco’s eyes flicked to the corner where Harry’s friends waited.
“Potter,” Draco said, and it sounded mostly like a fact but Harry could feel the hairline crack of asking that disappeared between the two “t”s. Draco stood with his feet wide apart and his shoulders caving.
Harry responded, “Malfoy,” with all the cold he could manage. He winced little at the windy shock and grainy pity that crept into his voice.
“Snape is dead,” Draco said. Draco’s hands, as he moved to tuck them in his pockets, were a sickly smudge against his dark robes.
“Good.” Harry felt nauseous.
Harry looked at the dirty wall above Draco’s head. The dim light in the room of the cheap hostel flickered. Ron coughed in the corner. Ron and Hermione were supposed to be sleeping on their gritty pallets while Harry took his turn keeping watch, but none of them ever slept anymore. They took turns laying in a grey fog and waiting.
Harry knew Ron and Hermione had only let the conversation go on so long, had even let Draco into the room, because Harry had. And because they were so tired the only thing there were afraid of now was the undone: the severed sentence, the half-raised arm, the unclaimed kiss. They were only afraid to die without finishing. But Harry knew Ron was gripping his wand and Hermione was clenching her teeth over a spell to scream. If it came to that.
“How?” Harry couldn’t help but ask over the tautness in his lungs. It was a tricky word: a demand, a syllable of anger inflected with devastation, a repressed sob edged with exhaustion. It was less about Snape and more about Dumbledore. It bubbled on Harry’s lips and detached, a poison clot of sound hanging between them, languidly spinning in the close air. In the lump, collapsing against itself like a black hole, was some of the sharp sick anger Harry had been holding on to.
Harry shuddered with the release of the muscles in his shoulders loosening.
Draco’s face slipped, the planes of it sliding out of place, until he jerked his head, no, and they clicked back in.
Harry stepped forward, ignoring the tightening hands and jaws in Ron and Hermione’s corner.
Harry caught Draco’s stare. Draco’s eyelids were shivering, as if there was thunder in his eyelashes. Draco’s mouth, though, was a decisive line. It cut his face—a clean break, an end. Harry wondered if his mouth looked the same.
Draco sniffed and eyed a wall critically. “It’s my birthday tomorrow. I think. I’ve…lost track of the days.”
Harry understood. Time was measured in death and cold and fighting: Seven Death Eaters killed; Hagrid died; pretended to sleep; ambushed a werewolf den; dry-heaved in the silence; found the Ravenclaw Horcrux; lost the Ravenclaw Horcrux; Arthur Weasley died; bit fingernails down to the hot pink skin.
But Harry’s mouth quirked; a curve, instead of a line?
“If only we had a cake,” Harry said wryly. “And some party hats.”
Draco’s paint skin stretched up and his sharp cheek bones softened and he might have smiled. Harry smiled back and reached out to take Draco’s arm. Draco’s hand fell from his pocket and Harry curled his fingers around the bony wrist and the thin hands inside Harry—the scrabbling, bleeding claws that clutched at anything, that imprinted their knuckles on shames, that dug their dirty nails into hurts and trespasses and betrayals, that clenched poisonous insecurities—let go. I forgive you.
Draco’s wrist was cool and smooth, like paint, or, maybe, canvas. Harry imagined rubbing the paint away in sticky globs to find Draco’s bones to be green and silver. Harry pressed his cheek to Draco’s. Draco hissed but didn’t move away. Or, if Draco was canvas and the bones had all faded, Harry mused he would paint Draco red. Harry breathed in. Red paint in their hands, strokes of blood, wine stains, shattered rubies in all the scars. Sloppy roses on shoulders and pools of blush in collarbones. Splashes of fire on hips. Harry opened his mouth and bumped his nose on Draco’s cheekbone, slipping on the gesso-ed peak of bone.
Harry pulled back and Draco attempted a snarl that dissolved and dripped and got caught on his own jutting chin.
Harry narrowed his eyes against the nausea sucking his stomach. “Go.”
Draco’s image swelled for an instant before he fell into purposeful steps out door and down the hall.
“Happy birthday,” Harry mouthed against his fingers.