Light and Dark - II

Author: Debbie
Rating: PG through R
Disclaimer: JKRowling owns Harry Potter. No infringement intended. All I own is 12 HP books, 6 mini snowglobes, 1 T-shirt, 1 Sorting Hat (thanks Jen!), 1 poster, and 2 mugs.
Author's Note: From time to time I have been inspired to write short ficlets for the H/D thread at SCUSA at FictionAlley Park. Most of them are too short to really warrant their own page here, so I'm going to just put them all here together for now.
Feedback: Yes please. Even short notes mean a lot to me. I accept constructive as well as positive remarks.

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In the Dark

Nightmare: Rated G

My morning began when I woke from a nightmare. Bolting upright in bed, clutching my sides, gasping with agony and loss…. Not that unusual, I suppose - how many times have I dreamt of Cedric's death, or awoken to scar's fire? But this was new.

I dreamt Draco Malfoy was gone.

I didn't remember the exact basis for his disappearance, whether it was death, or being transferred to Durmstrang, captured by an enemy, or what. I just remembered that he was suddenly gone from my life, and the loss was devastating. Even in my dream, I remembered being incredulous. Devastating? I should have been dancing in the streets to be finally rid of the constant thorn in my side. And yet there was an ache in my chest that far surpassed the pain in the neck he could be.

I had never stopped to realise how Malfoy filled nearly every waking moment of my existence. Meals, classes, Quidditch, the train, and a nearly endless stream of sneers, glances, insults and challenges to fill the intervening moments. He was always there, always pushing. And being pushed in return.

But in my dream, there was no one for me to pit myself against. No one to use as a gauge for my own abilities. Not Hermione - she was way over my head; too fast, too bookish. Not Ron - he wasn't slow, but he was definitely more laid back. He didn't challenge me. But my never-ending competition with Malfoy always pushed me to do my best. Can your enemy also be your peer? Because he was a peer in the truest sense of the word - an equal in almost every way.

He was my equal at Quidditch.

He was my equal in dueling abilities.

He was my equal in magical power.

He was even my equal in general build.

We shared the same drive, the same determination to do well and live up to the expectations placed on our names. To win. We were the exactly the same and totally different - photo negatives, light and dark. But on some gut level I knew he understood me in ways that Ron and Hermione did not - could not - with their loving family backgrounds, untouched by darkness.

And in my dream, that was all gone, and I was left bereft, alone. It was an emptiness worse than what I'd felt after Cedric's death. It was the sense that I'd lost the other half of myself, and it made me wonder - if the Triwizard Tournament had been held this year instead of three years ago, would Ron still have been the thing I'd miss most? Or would I have, against all logic, found Draco Malfoy at the bottom of the lake, waiting for me?


When the time came for breakfast, I sat facing the Slytherin table as I always did, automatically picking out the bright hair across the Hall, as I must have done unconsciously a million times before. But now I took a moment to appreciate my enemy's presence. Thank God it was only a dream.

"Stupid git," Ron muttered beside me, reaching for the bacon. "Always staring at us. Every bloody morning." Sure enough, grey eyes gazed across at our table, just as steadily as I was doing.

And I smiled.

(end) 3/16/02

Care to send me feedback?

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In the Dark: Rated PG
Opening lyrics are from the "Highlights" version of "Music of the Night" from Phantom of the Opera. Apologies to PotO purists. Peace offering: The "garish light of day" line is from the 'real' version.

Close your eyes
for your eyes will only tell the truth
And the truth isn't what you want to see.
In the dark it is easy to pretend
That the truth is what it ought to be.

They met at night. Always.

Not because the classrooms and towers and other meeting places were empty. Not because everyone was asleep, leaving them free to escape the dorm without question. Not because there was less chance of getting caught by Filch or Snape or McGonagall.

They met at night because it was dark. The candles in the halls -- normally blazingly bright -- burned only dimly while people slept and did little to dispel the blackness. In their chosen meeting place, they used no light at all. Any flames were extinguished, and no Lumos spells passed their lips. Instead, they embraced the dark, and the welcome shield it provided: a muted reality which they wrapped gratefully around themselves like a heavy cloak.

In their chosen oasis, they were the same. Fingers which tangled in the silky strands of hair were rendered colour-blind, as the two heads, normally so starkly contrasting, were both softened to grey. Mere shadows against the shadows. Their wordless gazes betrayed no flashes of silver or green, only the occasional black shimmer from an inky iris. No crests or other House markings could be seen as the clothing fell away. And no scars, not for either of them.

During these trysts, they shed not only their robes, but their roles. The dark took away labels and expectations, which they both knew they could not deny in the garish light of day. They had different destinies, different purposes. Their roles had been determined for them by the pressures of their respective circles, and by the heritage which had brought them into being. To go against those expectations was sometimes tempting, but never seriously considered. There was too much at stake, and so they faithfully answered their respective calls.
Every morning the harsh light of dawn would illuminate their reality, pushing them back to their opposing sides. But each night they would come together under the blanket of dark, and nothing else mattered.

If only we could stop the dawn.

(End) March 22, 2002

Feedback is music to my ears!

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Purpose: Rated PG
This started off as a small idea, and ended up being a companion of sorts to "Night". Draco's POV. Many thanks to Frances for her support and encouragement, and to Slightlights for beta-reading.

I am a Malfoy. I come from a great and noble lineage.

I am nothing.

Or rather, I was nothing.

After all, what purpose was I given, other than to bring 'honour' to the Mafoys via nefarious methods? I was born to live up to my name. And how was I to do that? I didn't need to work - I had Galleons galore. I wasn't trained for anything in particular - I did fine in Potions, of course, but had no desire to become a Potions Master, or to otherwise spend my day embroiled in the demanding, precise world of chopping and skinning and stirring. Quidditch? Yes, I was good, but I had no desire to play on a professional team. What was the point? I didn't need to be on a team to be able to travel. I didn't need the ridiculous salary they pay professional players.

And I didn't want to play against anyone but Harry.

The one thing I was groomed for was Death Eater. When I was young and still blindly following everything my father said and did, that was a noble enough goal to work toward. Part of a secret society, part of a purpose. Down with Mudbloods! and all that. I didn't worry about honing any skills other than those set before me, each one a step toward a life in a hooded black robe. I didn't even stop to think about what sort of knowledge or activities I would need to keep me occupied during the times when my lord would not call. I just did as I was told.

I took the Mark.

And then … and then…. Somewhere in there I woke up. Yes, I still lived at home, but I finally started to feel like an adult. Ironically, it was probably the 'adult' position of Death Eater that provoked the change. And with that newfound awareness came … thoughts. My own thoughts, not those of my parents. Thoughts of - what had I done to deserve my position of wealth and privilege? Thoughts of - Hermione's latest magical development and discovery, which was the talk of the wizarding world; if she, as a Mudblood, had been able to find a purpose, a means of contributing something valuable, was she really any different than I, who sought the same? What was I really doing, anyway? Terrorising the neighbourhood, in the name of a little power. I say 'little' because - who really held the power, anyway? Not I. We were just minions of our lord, nothing on our own. Was this really what I had striven for all my life? It wasn't enough, not anymore.

It went against everything I'd been raised to do, but I returned to Hogwarts, to Dumbledore, and asked for the same protection and absolution Snape had, and for the same price: service as a double agent. I did not take a teaching job, as he had - what on earth could I possibly offer? Defense Against the Dark Arts would have made Voldemort suspicious, and I wasn't qualified for anything else; I simply served as an informant, as promised. This sense of purpose suited me much better than Death Eater ever had, but it only lasted a short time. I did my job too well: in less than a year, Voldemort was defeated and my parents were imprisoned for life. The black Mark on my arm faded to a mere shadow, and I was once again left with nothing.

Nothing but Harry.

In other words, I was left with everything.

Like me, Harry had spent much of his life under pressure to live up to his name: Harry Potter. The Boy Who Lived. And I know at first he hated it and fought it, whereas I had originally accepted my fate unflinchingly. But then we switched places - as an adult he found purpose in fulfilling his expected role, in saving us all from the Dark Lord's tyranny, while I left the path carved out for me, and deserted my name's destiny.

I hadn't seen him since graduation, and of course, before that, we had been at complete odds. During my stint as an informant, however, I was often asked to attend meetings with those who were leading the fight against Voldemort; they wanted their information directly from the source. The first time he saw me there and understood my role, I know he didn't quite believe it. I saw the doubt, the double-takes he threw from under black-lashed lids. But when my reports proved their worth, he began to see me differently as well. We began to talk, to discover the similarities we'd shared all along, even in our childhood days when we'd insisted on showing only our differences. Our pride and our need to prove ourselves, to earn our worth, despite our generous inheritances. Or perhaps because of them.

This time, however, maturity allowed us to turn these things into a common bond, instead of a reason to pit ourselves against each other. One long post-meeting talk turned into a second talk which ran until dawn. Then came dinner in a quiet, unused apartment at Hogwarts. (What? It's not like I could be seen publicly socialising with Harry, or he with me, without losing all we were working for. I don't know what Dumbledore was thinking when he offered us use of the space, but we took it.) Hands that brushed each other accidentally-on-purpose. A quick kiss goodnight. A long kiss goodnight. And finally, weeks later, we made use of that same apartment's softly canopied bed.

It was then I discovered my real purpose - Harry. I suppose that sounds terribly … wrong … to base your entire existence on another person. And I didn't, really. But I understood him; we had spent all our entire childhoods studying each other with an intensity not even matched by the way we later studied the Dark Lord. And now that we were longer fighting each other, I got to know him even better.

When the battle ended, I was no longer needed as an informant -- but I still had Harry, and this gave more meaning to my life than any work. In our partnership, we each continued to push each other as we had years before; but this time, we helped each other to discover things about ourselves. To grow and learn, to take new chances. To trust in each other and in our love. To accept that we could be loved for who we were, not for our names. I found a job to fill my time, if not my spirit; my real happiness came from Harry, and later from volunteering at the orphanage where he worked after Voldemort's fall.

It took years, but I finally found what I needed to fulfill me, complete me. It wasn't a name, and it wasn't power. It was a person and a partnership.

I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine.

And that's all I need.

Jun 4 2002

Feedback gives me purpose!

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Beans: Rated PG
Who knew Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans could provoke such sentiment?
Warning: High mush content.

“Here ye are, Mr Potter.” The little rotund clerk behind Honeydukes´ counter set the little paper bag on the counter. “That´ll be three Knuts.”

“Thank you,” I replied, digging in my pocket for the required funds.

He accepted the little bronze coins and shook his head slightly, smiling as he did so. “Normally I only sell such wee quantities to th´ tykes who can only afford a single Cockroach Cluster or somesuch on their pocket money,” he chuckled. “And you and Mr Malfoy are th´ only people who ever ask for a specific number of Bertie Botts´ Every Flavour Beans.”

I nodded, but didn´t elaborate. Wallace had made the same bemused remarks every year since we started doing this, and I never explained why I had such strange-looking candy-buying habits. Instead, I wished him good day, picked up my purchase, and headed for home.

“Well, thanks for yer patronage, Mr Potter,” Wallace called as I walked out the door. “Enjoy yer nine Beans.”


I finished setting the table, and placed the little bag of Beans next to Draco´s plate. Then, with a glance into the kitchen to be sure that nothing was going to boil over, I pulled out the other chair and sat down. Reaching over, I picked up the Beans again and weighed them thoughtfully in my hand. Nine. Nine years. Where had the time gone?

It had started as a joke – exchanging the Bertie Botts Beans as an anniversary token. We were just relaxing together one night, curled into our favourite chair. We were carelessly popping them in our mouths, feeding them to each other, even tossing them at each other, and making wisecracks about the various flavours. “Ugh, that horrible shirt you bought last week had better taste than this one” or “This chocolate flavour bears a striking resemblance to the body paint I once used on you – think old Bertie is secretly churning out sex accessories on the side?”

But eventually our comments grew more serious, and the Beans took on an entirely different meaning – they were a metaphor for us, for our lives. Some surprises, some ordinary elements, and some things that were incredibly difficult to swallow. I wouldn´t trade our life together for anything, but it hasn´t been an entirely smooth journey. Still, the rough moments have made me appreciate the quieter times even more, much as you would savour a perfectly ordinary cherry-flavoured bean after choking down a sardine one.

And so, each anniversary, we make an individual trek to Honeydukes to get the precise number of Bertie Botts Beans which correspond to our years together. Oh, it would be far simpler to purchase one of the commercial bags of the little jellied treats, and just pick out the appropriate number. But then you´d have the chance to look for certain flavours or, at the very least, know in advance what you were ending up with. By doing it this way, we have only what is given to us – we have no control over it nor do we know what we´ve been given until we open the bags.

It´s not like we consider the assortment of Beans to be either a precise reflection of the past nor any ridiculous prediction of the future. (Although, come to think of it, I wouldn´t put it past Professor Trelawney to try to ‘read´ the Beans; it makes about as much sense as tea leaves, if you ask me.) But after our anniversary dinner, we take the time to eat the beans and talk about the past year – the times we made love all night in front of the fire, and the times we were up all night arguing. The time he made me dinner (even though he normally despises cooking) after I´d had a difficult day at work, and the times he made me want to tear my hair out in frustration. Strawberry and turnip; lemon and toast and haggis. And it all merges together into a jumble of flavours, a tangle of days – our lives, our partnership, our love.

And we always come back for more.

Sept 8, 2002

I'll take any flavour feedback.

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Challenge: Rated PG
Draco's mind wanders all over the avenue of consideration....

He lay on his back and stared up at the sky, fingers restlessly pulling at the blades of grass on the Pitch, and thought about Harry. Harry Potter. Harry Fucking Potter. Nothing at all special about either name; in another timeline, had that October night never occurred, Harry would have been a nobody. Even less ‘fame´ (he snorted) than Weasley. Only the scar on his head made his otherwise completely common name something people swooned over. The truth was, he really didn´t give a damn about the other boy´s claim to fame. Those green eyes and that black hair could have belonged to a Phillip Jones, and it would have been all the same to him.

After all, the very first time he had met Harry, he hadn´t known who he was. Nor had Harry known his name, his own well-known heritage. And yet they had sized each other up right away, reacting to the person. Learning each other´s identities had perhaps further coloured things initially – he resented the way everyone kowtowed to this otherwise completely ordinary boy, and he supposed the Weasel had wasted no time filling Harry´s head with God-only-knew-what about the Malfoys. But after that – the histories fell away and there was only Draco and Harry. Boy X and Boy Y. Challenging each other on their own terms, attempting to prove their own supremacy as themselves, not as names.

He doubted even Harry´s friends were able to completely see beyond his fame. After all, who helped Harry Save The World time and again? They did. And why? Because he was The Boy Who Lived. Even the Headmaster treated him differently.

But his own reasons for singling Harry out were entirely different. Determination to make Harry regret that initial snub, of course. But somewhere inside him was an instinctive sense that he´d met his match. One of the few people who ever looked him in the eye and said what he thought. Lording it over his fellow classmates was fun, of course, but it also got boring. Longbottom had once tried to stand up to him, which was momentarily interesting, but then he fell back into his old pattern of merely ducking his head and pretending to ignore any insults which came his way. Even his fellow Slytherins, cunning and conniving as they were, acknowledged his position as a Malfoy and rarely challenged him.

Harry did. Harry challenged his flying, his performance in class, his social station. And for all that he enjoyed the benefits of being a Malfoy, he also secretly enjoyed knowing that there was one person in the whole pathetic school who didn´t give a damn. Even Harry´s cronies paid attention to the Malfoy name; they feared and hated his family, his superiority as a wealthy pureblood – he made sure of it. But Draco had long stopped mentioning his father in Harry´s presence. For years it had been just about them. Just the two of them. For all their differences, it was their similarities that made such challenge possible.

But they had never talked about it. In fact, they had never had a single civil conversation. Draco yanked more viciously at the grass in frustration. It wasn´t like he wanted to just sit around and yammer with Harry. Too prissy. But he was also curious. After so many years and so many challenges, he felt he knew his opposition well. But what about those implied similarities? How alike were they? And why did he give a damn?

He sat up and sighed, brushing bits of grass off his robes. He liked coming to the Pitch to think; even on the ground, being here usually made him feel better. But his recent thoughts of Harry made finding peace elusive; this wasn´t the first time he´d come out here to brood on his nemesis, and his frustration still gnawed at him.

It wasn´t until he turned to walk back to the castle that he became aware of something else. Up in the stands, a lone black-clad figure lay stretched on the narrow benches, his black robe fluttering slightly in the breeze. The black head turned as Draco walked by; green eyes regarded him. But as he returned the charged gaze, he felt a shift. Not challenge. Understanding.

“You could have found a more comfortable place to do your thinking, Potter,” he said, after a time.

A wry smile appeared on the familiar mouth. “I always did like a challenge.”

Sept. 25, 2002

It shouldn't be a challenge to leave me feedback.

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