Disclaimer: JKR owns. I only play. You do not sue.
Length: 1K words
Summary: Like falling drops pierce the stone, stolen time rips through magic.
Notes: This is a remix of Time, by itself, is Meaningless by pufftmg; written for remixredux.
Concrit: Always welcome and appreciated.
Harry takes a long pull on his cigarette and blows the smoke into the treacherous February sunlight. It is treacherous because its brightness promises warmth, yet the cold seems all the more bitter for the radiance. The grey smoke swirls for a moment and fades into dreamlike wisps, and then all he sees are the shadowed woods looming to the east.
Malfoy Manor is old, its stones dark after the fashion of grand manor houses. Its presence is oppressive rather than impressive, but Harry is not afraid. He's been to worse, colder places, places where smoking was a necessity if you did not want to lose your lunch. The scent of burning tobacco leaves is pleasant compared to the lingering smell of burning human flesh.
Nothing helps against the memories, though, and Harry takes another pull, screwing his eyes shut and willing himself not to remember, not to see, not to think. This is supposed to be easy, relaxing -- just standing there on this late winter morning, smoking and waiting. The war has other ideas, of course, and it sends image after image into Harry, reminding him of who he is and what he must do. This is why Harry cannot sleep alone. This is why he cannot even be alone for long: he will go mad with only his thoughts for company. He knows this as surely as he knows that he must not go mad until he has done what he needs to do.
Must. Harry's world has long since lost the concepts of hope, will and should; everything is about must -- levels of must that lead inexorably to "Harry Potter must destroy Lord Voldemort or perish trying." Right now, he must wait for Draco to bring out the locket and then they will leave. One more step on the ladder of must.
He cannot go inside; but he will be drawn to Draco's side as soon as any spell is directed against him. He does not really believe that Lucius will do anything to harm his son. Maybe Draco will even succeed in convincing him to come over, though Harry isn't holding his breath. He has learned patience since the war began. Patience with events, with himself, even with his enemies.
He tosses the cigarette aside and runs his tongue along his top teeth, thinking of the first time he was with Draco. His insides bursting with something needy and poisonous, Harry fucked Draco Malfoy two days after they buried Ginny, and then he could not let Draco go. He would not let him go, not while he did not feel alone by his side. Nothing in this war makes sense. It is as though they are all puppets thrust into a different world by a curious god.
His thoughts are interrupted by a jerk behind his navel -- the warding spell that binds him to Draco! -- and the last thing he remembers is a voice. In his left ear, the voice shrieks that something is very wrong. In his right ear, it whispers that there is no way Lucius Malfoy would ever harm his only son.
Harry shrugs off his coat and makes his way purposefully down towards the armchair, where Draco sits like a broken doll, the thick book in his lap and the cognac by his side both mockeries of decadence. Never mind that the pages in the book never turn and the level of the liquid in the bottle never changes.
When this first happened forever ago, just after the twisting in Harry's gut and his mind screaming that something was very wrong, Draco started to explain. He could not finish the explanation because the clock was striking and that meant Harry had to go. He clung to the words with his mind and when he returned, he whispered them back to Draco, who continued until the explanation was whole.
It's a spell...
Harry shrugs off his coat, tracks mud across the Persian carpet, settles down beside Draco.
...that traps your soul...
Harry tracks mud across the Persian carpet, settles down beside Draco, puts his hand on top of Draco's thin, pale arm.
...inside a painting...
Harry settles down beside Draco, puts his hand on top of Draco's thin, pale arm, studies his drawn, ghostly face.
Harry puts his hand on top of Draco's thin, pale arm, studies his drawn, ghostly face and shakes his head. Forever is a long time. The cycle repeats an endless number of times -- Harry takes off his coat, walks across the carpet, sits down beside Draco and listens to his words. Then he gets up, walks back to the door, puts his coat back on and then he's back again. There is no end in sight. Forever is too long for Harry but not long enough for Draco. Harry suspects that the key to their freedom hides in this incongruity. He wishes he could have a smoke to help him think.
Draco has talked of the mechanics of the spell, but it's all just so much blather to Harry. He does not say this out loud, because it seems important to Draco to understand, to explain, to appear in control. Sometimes his grey eyes cut to outside as though hoping for a glimpse of the world there, of the dark, lavish study and their captor. Harry understands that Draco believes there is no hope; all his life he has been taught that his father is infallible. Harry is bound by no such illusions. He says nothing; words are of no import and they will forget all this if they get out of here. When they get out.
The clock begins to strike midnight. Harry feels he cannot find time to think of anything but what's about to happen yet again, but he will find a way to make time, just as he has been finding time for as long as he can remember being trapped in this painting. A second here, a minute there, between the striking of the clock and the despair lurking in Draco's eyes.
There is only one spell against which there is no succour; everything else can be countered, broken or made anew. Somewhere, a clock is striking. Harry knows that it is not the clock in the painted room, and he knows that at last, the bonds that confine him are beginning to fade, unknown to Lucius, unknown to Draco.
Harry must do a number of things, not least of which is the destruction of Voldemort. Before he can do that, he must get out of here; there's nothing for it. With time and persistence, everything fails. And when this spell does (and Harry will make sure of it), Lucius Malfoy will pay. Harry will make sure of it.