Those who need, must. - Settle

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February 5th, 2009

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11:10 pm - Settle
Title: Settle
Author: dracofiend
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: HP/SS, HP/DM
Summary: Love is love, even if it's not perfect; or, home is where the heart is.
A/N: A ficlet for the Fabulous No-Pressure Laissez Faire Challenge at [info]hp_unfaithful! Prompt #96: Go into a lot of detail about the different settings the partners have. When A is with B, the room is dirty; when A is with C, the room is pristine, for example.

It's dim and crowded in the dungeon chambers where Severus is, crowded with shelves and cauldrons, with dusty vials and clean ones, dim with overburdened shelves and an absence of windows. Steam and fumes refract all the light, shifting the room's shapes into a dreamlike haze that curls thickly about one's throat. Snape is accustomed to his potions as they rise; the only moments he is affected by any sort of haze are those moments when Harry slips in through the door, like the flicker of a torch, heat without sound, warmth without weight. Harry comes without knocking. He has given up knocking, and he assists Severus with his work. Harry fumbles with knives or decanters or mortars and pestles; he bruises fresh lady's mantle, scatters dried nettles, upends an entire thimble of powdered unicorn horn. He bears Severus' stinging remonstrations, which are halting and endless, which puff large on impatience with unrealistic desires until they leap from clipped words into clipped gestures.

"Let me," Severus snarls, stopping Harry's clumsy wrist before it threatens anything more. Harry yields to him; Severus yields to himself. He pushes Harry down with great haste and misgivings, sweeping aside cutting boards and bottles and droppers and books. They clatter on the table or roll to the floor while Harry digs into Severus' robes and sets to war with hooks and closures. Harry shuts his eyes and Severus watches his mouth working, feeling the restraint of the walls, the cramp of the dark, the absurdity of his own hopes and the shards near his feet. It is the ruination, he is certain, of more than his potion.

* * *

"Thanks," Harry says, quickly shaking out his shirt before tugging it over his head. It catches on his glasses. He's never mastered the art—or exact science, more likely—of doing this, of pulling on his shirt without snagging his glasses, of smiling without discomfort after sex with someone he has sex with. Because he still feels awkward around Snape, particularly after, when he slides off the table and the skin is still sticky where his legs join his hips. He hikes up his trousers anyway, resisting the urge to wipe off the sweat, resisting the urge to kiss Snape on the mouth. He would do it, he wants to—but Snape is always occupied with clearing up the table, or fixing his clothes, or muttering to a cauldron with his hair hanging down. There isn't much light in here and the air tends to be thick; it's stifling and it's hard to see Snape's face.

"Uh, can I help you with that?" Harry straightens himself, pushes up his sleeves; he crunches over broken bits to where Snape's cauldron is beginning to boil. Snape's eyes are narrowed, focused on the contents; Harry looks away from him to banish the glass from the floor. He puts his wand into its pocket and turns back to Snape. The fumes are starting to smell. Harry holds his breath and touches Snape's elbow lightly. "Should I add the sagebrush?"

Snape's hair shifts, in the negative, and Harry can tell the odor from the potion will be in his own hair as well. "It's too soon," Snape mutters. "How many times must I tell you? Another minute, then stir in half a stem. Slowly!" he adds warningly, leaving his place against the table for a far-off shelf. Harry's eyes follow the man for a moment, then he returns his attention to the frothing brew. He wishes, while carefully breaking off acrid leaves over the cauldron, that the ceilings were higher, that the lanterns were brighter. Then maybe Snape would turn around, see him, and walk back.

* * *

Harry breathes in deeply as he pushes the door closed behind him; the scent of candles burned last night float in the air, and it smells great in here. Clean. It's a relief.

"Draco?" he calls out, dropping his keys on sidetable and flicking through the mail. There's nothing of interest. One largish square envelope is notably stiff and curlicued; it's already been opened, the top flap torn haphazardly and the contents resting on top. Harry's eyes skim the invitation, then lift at the sound of steps on the stairs.

"Hi," Draco smiles, padding over cream-colored carpeting, brushing past the picture frames hanging along the wall. "How was your day?" He jumps from the third-to-last step, pushing off the balustrade. "Oh, you want to go to that?" he asks while padding across the wide white floor--it's marble, but magically warmed. The bare slaps of his feet ring faintly, pleasantly, around the space of the entryway.

Draco hugs Harry in the midst of his shrug. "I don't know--seems like it could be boring, but we can go if you want," Harry says, pausing to kiss Draco chastely. "Watch out, I'm covered in filth," Harry cautions. He smiles at Draco and the sharpness, the pleasant and unpleasant keenness in him fades.

"Ack, and yet you kiss me still!" Draco makes bug eyes, then grins and crushes Harry's lips roughly with his own. "Did you have dinner? You want to eat something and watch the match?"

Draco's hair is fluffy from its obvious air-drying state; he's as fresh and masculine as French-milled soaps can make a man, and he thrusts a hand inside Harry's stained robe to give Harry's ribcage a quick little squeeze. Harry wrestles with Draco's arm for a moment and they laugh when Draco wins.

"Weak!" Draco says. His gray eyes seem translucent beneath the splendid chandelier, beaming all around from high overhead.

"Yeah," Harry grins back. "Let's go watch the match." He hopes the teeth in his smile will reflect away the light, because unlike Draco, he hasn't figured out how to turn transparent yet. He can manage a fair imitation though, in a room without clutter, with only pretty things, with softness underfoot and the world's best squashy couch. He links hands with Draco and swings them towards the bright and perfect living room.

* * *

The squashy couch isn't polished; it doesn't really match with the rest of the room. But Draco's glad he conceded to Harry on this point--Harry has a way of throwing himself down when the tide turns against his team, and Draco guesses there would be bruising, if the couch were properly firm. He wants the place to be polished--a calm and elegant space, one that looks good in magazines (it does) but is just as desirable to live in (it is). It's comfortable; not messy (or "cozy," as some might say), and Draco keeps it like that for the love of Harry's look, whenever Harry comes home. He'll glance up at the ceiling, then from wall to wall, and the corner of his mouth will quirk up, as if assessing.

"You don't like the paintings? The light fixtures? What?" Draco had asked once, when they'd just moved in.

"No! I love them!" Harry had told him. "They are brilliant paintings. And light fixtures. I guess it's just...hard to believe I'm really living here. It's so big, and grand, and. You know." He shrugged and grinned at Draco in that abashed and charming way. "Nice. Nicer than I could've dreamed."

"Ah," Draco said dryly. "Well, I'm very sorry it's not the dark, dank, rat-infested hole of your dreams--what did you have in mind?"

"You don't want to know," Harry had laughed, reaching for him. "And anyway," he added, pulling back from their kiss, "it wasn't meant to be." He had looked comically wistful then, and it had made Draco laugh too.

"Did you see that!" Harry suddenly shouts, landing hard on the squashy cushion and jabbing Draco in the shoulder. "That was a hell of a hit! Opened the lane for Bryson to score and he put it right in--the Keeper never had a chance. Fucking awesome!" He punches the air with his fist, his eyes fastened to the screen. Draco will see the replay, of course, because he needs to see the fucking awesome hit and the goal as well, but at this moment he simply watches Harry, flushed with excitement, sprawling back on the couch, his dark hair darker against the pale calfskin upholstery. Draco's heart skips a little, and he's certain that this--their home, their life, all of it--was meant to be.

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Date:February 6th, 2009 01:18 pm (UTC)
Oh wow. I love this. You nailed the contrast of the locations, as well as the difference between the two relationships. Excellent work.
Date:February 7th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
Way back when I was a newbie fan, infidelity used to scare me and I never read it. But now I love to explore it in what I read, and you've done a nice slice-of-life of it. Everything is so visual and yet understated. Hmmm, did I say that clearly? I mean you didn't go into all the whys and wherefores, but then you didn't need to - you knew what not to write. You left the good stuff in.
Date:October 13th, 2010 08:06 am (UTC)

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