December 12th, 2008
|dracofiend||04:48 pm - Semantics|
Summary: You might say Harry isn't unfaithful. You might say he is.
It's not a night, not a date, not a hurried non-breakfast in the abrupt hours of the morning or a casual cup of coffee on a dozy workday afternoon. It's not even a kiss.
What it is, though, is a look. A lot of looks. A touch. A blurry line; more a stripe, a patch, a--an area, a gray, a heavily gray area that Harry doesn't cross but perhaps, if one is arguing semantics, is in the midst of crossing when he mistakenly opens a door that should've been locked, that would've been locked if the latch had been working in the creaking sagging thing that is Mortimer's aunt's home. She lives near Barley, where the day-long race ends, where Harry should not have stayed. Harry should not have come. But Mortimer offered, and Mortimer is his boss, and the race is set to start at a god-forsakenly early hour. It's for charity, for a very good cause. An excellent cause, Draco said, placing the flyer in Harry's in-box without looking up. I'm going. Then he looked up.
Harry had decided that he would run the race. He'd mentioned it to his partner later that night, while climbing into bed. That's a long way to go on nothing but your feet, his partner had said. Good on you. They'd kissed good night and pulled up the covers. Beneath the comforter their hands touched, and his partner was the one to fall asleep first.
On the big day the sky is nothing short of foreboding but nothing happens, no rain. Reaching the finish line is incomparably exhausting; stepping beyond it, slowing his aching thighs to a walk, is even more incomparably so. But the race is good. The cheering at the end is good, the ice-cold, unlimited PowerJuice is good. All of it is good, until Harry thinks the water's been off a while and he creaks down the wooden floor in Mortimer's aunt's house and knocks on the shower door and doesn't get an answer. In all honesty his only thinking in the moments before he opens the door is about how damned tired he is of smelling himself and how brilliant it'll feel to get into the shower. He opens the door and Draco is there.
I'm sorry, Harry blurts, I didn't know--
It's all right, Draco says quickly, I was--
I knocked, Harry asserts, but--
I didn't hear, Draco claims.
I'll go, Harry says.
No, don't, Draco answers. It's all yours. His gesture is slight and vague.
He's not wearing a shirt yet, which Harry could plainly see but which he only notices when Draco steps near. Suddenly Harry is sixteen again, watching numbly, heart beating, terrified, as Draco bleeds and bleeds from a thousand fine lines crossing criss crossing criss crossing his chest. Harry raises a hand to stop it, stop the flow of the blood, stop the flow of himself to the flow the blood--
What? Draco murmurs, a faint twist to his smile.
Harry's hand falls, landing lightly on the skin. It is whole, and it rises under his fingertips. Draco exhales then, deeply, leaving Harry's palm alone in the air.
Harry thinks of staying still for Draco's next inhale; if he does their skin would touch again, and then their mouths would touch. And then their hands would touch.
Hey, Draco says softly, his chest bumping Harry's hand, which Harry drops at once with an apologetic, I smell. Draco's clear eyes widen; he copies Harry and steps back.
You do, he agrees, with a single laugh.
I should probably shower, Harry says, feeling the thread of his pulse and the space between each blink and the desperate dryness of his throat despite the steam in the room. None of this is allowed, none of it, none but the tenets of want won't bend to his will, unlike his limbs or his neck as he nods and moves past Draco. From the edge of his eye he sees Draco pick up his toiletry kit and his towel.
See you downstairs, Draco says, slipping through the door. Harry bites his tongue. He turns on the water and tries not to think of Draco's most familiar smile, sad and tilted sideways with a certain quiet recognition. He gets into the stall, jerks the curtain shut, and when he's done showering he sends an owl home, to say he'll be back in time for dinner after all.