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[Not!Fic] Undeserving of a Title

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So, it’s after the war. Many years after the war. Draco and Harry are in their early 30s and both are working and living at a Wizarding university. Harry is (predictably) still famous, and he works teaching the university equivalent of DADA. He’s not married, he has no children (because my entire world is EWE and I don’t care what anyone says about it. Besides, Ginny totally belongs with Katie Bell and that’s all I have to say about that). Draco is teaching Wizarding history and culture, and has become fairly famous in his own right and has written a lot of books and has made his way in the world. He’s married to Astoria and has a son.

Draco and Harry aren’t friends. They nod to each other in passing and have a non-relationship. They both live on the university grounds. Draco is in family housing, and Harry has a set of rooms that suits his simple wants and needs.

And generally, everybody’s happy. Draco’s happy. Astoria is happy. Scorpius is happy. Harry is happy. You know. Happy. But in that everything’s-fine-nothing’s-really-wrong sense of the word. Which is more than good enough. No-one is looking for anything more.

********

So, Draco is going about his life (happily). But the thing is. It feels like there is ALWAYS SOMEONE AFTER HIS TIME! He can’t get even a second of quiet to himself. As he walks down the halls, students are pestering him asking about exams, and the dean is pestering him asking about lesson plans, and then he gets into class and there are waving hands and chattering and chattering and chattering. And then he goes home and there’s Astoria. Who is awesome and asking about his day and telling him about her day and chattering and chattering and chattering. And there’s Scorpius asking for help with his flying and his lessons and just has to tell Draco about EVERY SECOND OF HIS DAY!!!!

So, Draco just feels…. crowded. Tired and out of sorts and like he doesn’t have anything left to give anyone.

And one day, he’s looking across the courtyard and he sees Harry. And Harry is surrounded by people who are all chattering and chattering at him and waving papers in his face and generally bombarding him with attention and Draco is all “!” and Harry kind of glances across the courtyard and sees Draco looking and gives him this kind of tired, wry half-smirk and then attends to his business.

And Draco mostly forgets about it.

Except that he doesn’t.

He feels like maybe he finally understands something about Harry, who he’s never really gotten, if you know what I mean.

********

So things go on this way and Draco is still happy but he just feels like all the voices are pounding into his skull every second of every day and it’s winding tighter and tighter, and he’s getting kind of snippy with his students and his co-workers and the dean and Astoria and Scorpius and he HATES IT, but he can’t stop himself because it’s JUST TOO MUCH and he’s all ARRRRRRRRG!!!!!!!!

And then one night, Draco wakes up. It’s about 4am and he’s in that weird place where he knows that if he goes back to sleep, he won’t be able to wake up properly in 2 hours. So he lies there, in the dark, listening to Astoria breathe and he realizes that… it’s QUIET. It’s dark and blissfully silent. And so he slips out of bed and wanders outside and realizes that it’s about an hour to sunrise and it’s so QUIET. And he suddenly has this recollection of a small sitting room tucked into a corner of one of the buildings and he thinks “I could just go there and have a cup of tea, and listen to the fire and be calm”.

So he trudges across the courtyard and heads into the building and up the stairs and opens the door to the this little sitting room.

But.

It’s not empty.

There’s a fire going in the hearth and Harry is sitting in the window seat. He’s not reading or doing anything, really. He’s just sipping a cup of tea and staring out the window.

And he turns his head and sees Draco and Draco can just see him stealing himself for words, for conflict, for requests, for time. And his eyes look so tired and kind of desperate.

Draco almost turns around and walks out. But for some reason, he doesn’t.

He just nods to Harry, heads over to the sideboard, pours himself a cup of tea, and sits in the easy chair facing the fire, head turned away from Harry. He picks up the midnight edition of the Daily Prophet, which Harry has obviously already read. And he sits there. Reads the paper. Sips his tea. And just breathes.

And Harry turns back to the window and sips his tea and watches the sunrise. And at 6 am, they both get up, and head out to meet their day.

And neither of them has said a single word.

That day is the best day Draco has had in a long time. He has more patience for the people around him. He feels less crowded, less anxious, less snippy. He enjoys his evening conversation with Astoria and plays with Scorpius, and he thinks, maybe, he just needed a little break.

And so he goes back to his life for about a week. And by the end of the week he realizes that IT IS NOT OKAY!!!!! He’s all /o\ and OMG JUST STOP TALKING TO ME!!!!!!!! But this time, when it feels like the walls of voices are going to crush him, he remembers the sitting room. And how calm he felt when he was there, so he sets a wake-up spell for 4am, and the next morning, he slides out of bed and heads across the courtyard and slips into the side door, up the stairs and opens the door to the sitting room.

And there’s Harry.

Again.

This time, sitting at the small table, sipping tea and reading the paper. And Harry looks up and doesn’t look quite as desperate as before. He just gives Draco a half-smile and turns his attention back to the paper. So Draco pours himself a cup of tea, and sits down in the chair in front of the fire and watches the flames.

Shortly later, Harry gets up and goes to the window, and watches the sunrise. Then, at 6am, they both leave the room. And when Draco gets to the bottom of the stairs, he realizes that once again, they haven’t said a single word.

********

Well, Draco’s not an idiot. He knows that he’s not coping well with the demands on his time. He knows that twice now, he’s found a way to carve out a little time for himself and that the result is that not only is he calmer and happier, but that he’s better to the people around him. So he starts making it part of his daily routine. He gets up at 4, heads over to the sitting room, and for two hours, he shares the space, in silence, with Harry.

Harry now knows to expect him, so when he enters the room, Harry waves a hot cup of tea over to him, and passes him the sections of the paper that he’s already read. And every morning, Harry heads to the window and watches the sunrise, and at 6am, they leave to go about their business, having had a precious moment of quiet to start their day.

********

They are still not friends.

They have still never exchanged a single word.

They do not seek each other out outside of the room.

But, when Draco looks across the courtyard and sees Harry surrounded by people and Harry looks up, this time, Harry just shrugs and grins this what-can-you-do? grin, and Draco grins back.

********

Astoria notices that Draco is happier and asks what’s up. Draco tells her. Tells her that he’s been overwhelmed by the demands on his time. Tells her that he’s found a way to find some quiet. Tells her about Harry. And she smiles and says that she’s so pleased he’s found a way to be truly content again, that she’s been worrying about him. And he hugs her close and breathes in the smell of her hair, and knows how lucky he is.

********

At Christmas, before he leaves for Malfoy Manor, he leaves a present for Harry in the sitting room for him to find. It’s a pocket watch that shows him what time the sun will rise each day.

********

When he returns from Christmas, Harry passes him a gift along with the midnight edition of the paper. It’s a mirror. Draco snorts and grins. And that day, he watches the sunrise with Harry.

********

And for a year, this goes on. And Draco is purely happy. His relationships with his family and his colleagues have improved and he feels like life is exactly where it should be.

Harry looks better, too. Calmer and happier and not so worn around the seams.

They have their literally unspoken code of silence in the sitting room, but each day, they share tea, and the paper, and the sunrise, and then they go about their day.

********

And then Astoria dies. It’s sudden. It’s an attack-illness-accident-something that is completely unexpected and her loss jerks the carpet out from under Draco’s feet. He’s lost. He’s been married to Astoria for over 10 years and she’s been the complete love of his life. She stuck with him through his snippy times and helped him learn to be a better person. At first, it’s almost ok. Or, as okay as it can be. Because he has things to DO. He has to arrange the funeral, he has to deal with the legalities. He has to help Scorpius with the loss of his mother. There is SO MUCH TO DO that he doesn’t really have time to think about anything else. He just trudges through each day thinking about what he needs to accomplish and checking each thing off this list, one by one.

He stops going to the sitting room.

He doesn’t have the time. He doesn’t have the energy. All he can do is just get through each thing. But all the voices are still there. Well-meant condolences. So many people who want to be helpful but just crowd in trying to make it better and all he wants to do is yell at them “DON’T YOU KNOW THAT IT CANNOT BE BETTER?!?! IT CANNOT BE BETTER EVER AGAIN! LEAVE ME ALONE! I CANNOT HANDLE YOU!”

And then, all the things are done. Crossed off the list. And Draco flails. Untethered.

And stops.

He stops going to work. He stops getting Scorpius off to his tutors. He mostly stops eating. He can’t sleep, and he can’t be awake. He’s just in this in-between place. Paused indefinitely. It’s like he just wound down and the only person who could ever wind him up again is Astoria, and she’s gone.

His parents come and try to help. They take over the daily care of Scorpius. They are worried. It’s been weeks. They try to talk to Draco. They console him. They remind him of his responsibilities. They tell him that Astoria wouldn’t want this. And all he can think is “I KNOW ALL THAT! BUT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND? I AM FROZEN! I AM LOST”. But he can’t even make his vocal cords work.

And so his parents just keep on keeping on, doing their best to just hold the ship on a somewhat steady course.

********

Harry, of course, has heard the rumors. Heard that Draco has stopped coming to work. He’s worried too.

So one morning, at 4am he treks across the courtyard to the family housing area, and knocks on the Malfoys' door. He knocks again and again and again and finally, Lucius opens a door and is all WTF?! And Harry just walks in without an explanation. He brings tea and the paper. He walks into Draco’s room, and sees him, sitting in the chair, staring into space. And Draco looks up at him.

And Harry kneels beside the chair and presses the tea into his hands.

Draco doesn’t drink it. He just looks at Harry, and Harry looks back at Draco. And then he squeezes Draco’s shoulder, takes the paper and sits in the window seat of Draco’s room and watches the sunrise. And at 6am, he leaves.

********

Harry comes every day.

Lucius ends up keying the wards to him.

Every day he gives Draco tea, and squeezes his shoulder, and watches the sunrise.

And one day, about a week later, when he places his hand on Draco’s shoulder, Draco grabs his hand, and squeezes back. That day, Draco gets up and watches the sunrise with Harry. And drinks the tea. And glances at the headlines.

The next day, he cries. Great wrenching sobs of loss. And Harry holds him and doesn’t tell him it will all be ok. And doesn’t try to fix it. He’s just there, petting his head and rocking him. And at 6am, Harry doesn’t leave. He curls up with Draco on the bed and Draco falls asleep—really truly asleep—for the first time since Astoria died.

He wakes up groggy and disoriented. Harry is gone. Draco showers. He goes downstairs. He eats breakfast. He hugs his son.

********

So Harry keeps coming every day. And Draco slowly starts mending. He goes back to work and keeps moving forward. His parents go home. And life goes on, as it is wont to do.

He and Harry still don’t speak.

It’s habit.

It’s comfortable.

It’s a place of quiet in both of their minds and days and at this point, they don’t need words anyway. Harry knows Draco’s opinion of the news by the quirk of his eyebrow. Draco can read Harry’s amusement in the twitch of his lips.

********

And then, one day, Draco decides that it’s time. So he meets Harry at his door at 4am. Harry is confused. He’s been coming to Draco’s for so long, it is as much his routine as the sitting room had been before. But Draco just smiles and takes his hand. He leads Harry out across the courtyard, in the side door, up the stairs to their little sitting room. It’s dark. The fire hasn’t been lit. So Harry gets a house elf to bring tea and Draco lights the fire. And then he takes Harry’s hand again and leads him back to the window seat. He sits down and settles Harry between his legs. He rubs his chin on Harry’s shoulder and he put his lips close to Harry’s ear and whispers

thank you

And Harry jerks. And then he turns his head to look at Draco, and presses his face against Draco’s neck, and whispers

you’re welcome

against his skin.

And then they turn back to the window and watch the sun rise.

The End