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Counting The Storms Away by Lirie Halliwell
Beta-ed by jandjasalmon (*hearts*) and written for the LJ dg_challange.
Nothing by Lirie Halliwell
Counting The Storms Away
She was nothing to him, absolutely nothing.
Her hair was nothing, nor her eyes and her touch. Her smiles were nothing and her pleas drifted over him and away like forgetful breezes. He might have held her once tightly under the loyal shrouding of the night’s darkness, but that was nothing but a memory now, too. Less than a memory, even. Nothing.
He remembered the first night to its every little detail, but it meant nothing. She was wounded and bleeding, and he might have healed her cuts and wounds then, but it was nothing. She was nothing more than a stray little cub that wound up on his path, pleading for warmth and affection with those big brown lying eyes. He felt nothing for her and yet he gave her the bed while he himself spent the night at the windowsill, looking outside and seeing nothing.
In the morning she felt better, judging by the shower of accusations and spiteful insults she hurled at him the moment she became aware of his presence. He didn’t care and simply rolled his eyes, tossing a shirt at her. She said nothing and donned it quickly.
She demanded to know where her clothes were and he absently pointed to the pile of ripped and tattered rags. That sight seemed to bring back memories of the previous evening into her daft little head – memories of blood, her blood, memories of big brown pleading eyes, her eyes, and memories of warmth and healing energy, his. She stayed quiet afterwards.
She didn’t leave that day or the next, and he didn’t ask her to. In fact, he said absolutely nothing to her for the first three days of her stay. She didn’t bother him much those days, always blending into the background and making herself invisible. All those years being Potter’s little lapdog were finally paying off – she had learned how to shut up.
Of course he toyed with the idea of tossing her out to the streets – she made dinner for two that night and kept smiling, making him nauseous at the fact that she thought she could appease him with that as if he was her cherished little boy wonder– but he kept postponing it. She was a highly wanted woman now, being Potter’s wife and a head of a special assault team from the Resistance, and her banishment might as well have meant her death. He had nothing to do with the war himself; he was rich enough to be granted the right not to choose sides. She obviously never had such a privilege.
He caught her crying once in the greenhouse, but she hurried to fiercely wipe her tears away and wordlessly brush past him on her way out. He didn’t chase her to comfort her, though some last remnant of chivalry told him that he should. That remnant was shot like a dog and stamped into the ground along with the other nonsense this war has beaten out of him. The next morning the papers – Muggle newspaper, since all Wizarding publications, except for Voldemort’s “Mark Gazette”, were eliminated long ago - said that the body of one Ronald Weasley was found dead in the Thames.
The next day she started talking to him.
It started small, with “Hold this” as she shoved a bowl of eggs into his hands and bend over in search for the cheese grinder. Then it was, “Pass the salt,” and finally with the bland and almost uninterested, “Why did you save me?”
“You were dyeing my lawn red with your blood. I hate red,” he answered simply, eyes fixated on his plate and his whole being trying to ignore her.
“You could’ve killed me. Why didn’t you kill me?”
“Does the word ‘neutral’ bear any meaning for you people?”
It wasn’t the first time he was accused by the one side and scorned by the other for taking no action, taking no sides. But what was it to him? Nothing.
“There shouldn’t be neutral in this war,” she bristled suddenly, fists clenched and trembling. “We’re fighting for life here.”
“This is not life. You’re fighting for survival – primitive, primate instinct to strike back, shield and evade. Only surviving in order to fight another day. I do not reduce myself to primate-like states.”
“You’re father seems to have no qualms about reducing to primate-like states.”
She hit a nerve. He hadn’t spoken to his father in years, and from the news he gathered, he had absolutely no wish for a conversation with that man. He was betrayed by his father as the elder tossed him into the snake’s den and barricaded the entrance when he was too young and too weak to stand up and blow the barrier to smithereens on his way out. His father wanted an heir, and he simply wanted to live. He still had his mother in good health and countenance, residing with distant relatives in southern France.
But it wasn’t the point. The point was that the nothing was beginning to talk. He had to shut her up.
“How is that daft brother of yours? Still an easy target?”
He didn’t see it, but he could feel her eyes fill with blood and tears at that question. The air around her crackled, and her anger was making disturbing ripples in the air about her. He didn’t react and soon she stormed out of the room, her breakfast abandoned.
A week of blessed silence followed.
A strong hailstorm hit the area and damaged the west wing of the mansion. While the elderly house elves fixed the roof and windows, they had to move to the east wing, where the only bedchambers were divided by nothing but a mere wall.
Too close, he thought to himself as an itching sensation spread throughout his body.
“Too close,” he murmured and tossed in his sleep.
Another storm and the skies were strewn with serpentine lines of electrifying light, hitting and demolishing anything on contact. She screamed and cried out loudly, and even the rain couldn’t drone out her voice.
He jumped to his feet and stormed to her door. He banged once, twice, demanding silence, but she continued to cry. Finally tired and irate, he barged into the room with a scowl, only to find her huddled in the corner on the floor, jerking every time the light flashed outside and the thunder roared angrily.
She wasn’t even aware of his presence, until he wrapped the coverlet over her shoulders. She glanced up and saw him slide down the wall with a heavy sigh, casually settling into a sitting position. His whole air was so bored and slightly irritated that he obviously caused her confusion. He looked at her and she stopped trembling, staring at him with those big brown eyes again.
Lightning flashed again and immediately the thunder followed, sending her into frenzy, in which she threw herself at him and clung for her dear life. His eyes widened in surprise, his muscles tightened in alert, and his heart grew eerily still.
“I’ll continue hating you in the morning,” she whispered quietly, her voice bearing a promise more than anything.
He stayed there all night – first until the storm had passed on the floor beside her, and the rest of it in an armchair near the window. She again made breakfast the next morning.
He didn’t remember later how it all unfurled further, but one morning he woke up in her bed and she was no longer nothing. They coexisted for over a month before the coexistence blended into something more painful, something more beautiful. They slept together, limbs entwined and bodies ignited by the mere thought of a touch, but always kept an invisible line between them. He kept scolding himself for the weakness, reminding him that she was nothing and that it was easier that way. But the more he berated himself not to fall, the more evasive the ground laid beneath his feet.
Because she sang to him at night, lulling his troubled mind to her chest and guising his fears in the cloth of dreams and nuisances, for she truly was a skillful witch. He drew landscapes and vivid impressions of their lives on her skin with his breath, and he counted with her the rainstorms away.
“One witchy weather, two witchy weather, three witchy weather…”
They didn’t speak about outside, for there was nothing there. She wasn’t a warrior and he wasn’t an outcast, and neither ventured beyond the gates into the cold world that was still engulfed in its foolish wars. The wars meant nothing to them now that they were too busy trying not to fall too hard, or at the very least land on their feet.
Merlin only knows how long it would’ve been possible for them to stay locked in their own world of low murmurs and soft physical contact, but the world outside was weaving a different tale.
Three months had passed since the night she had fallen off of her broom over his estate, and during this time she managed to forget her past life, past wars, past duties. But it had all come crushing back like a savage bludger skillfully aimed at her stomach with the appearance of her husband on the front lawn of the Manor.
Very little was spoken between the three, and only the eyes bore laden meanings that neither wished to voice in order to avoid scandals and big loud mistakes. Potter simply stated that he had waited while the nearest Death Eaters regiment moved further away from the area, before he could risk coming back for her. He had been thrilled to see her alive and well, and had coldly thanked Draco for taking such a good care of her. Draco himself barely smiled, a scowl almost overrunning all his well-bred manners, and only kept clenching his fists and pacing the sitting room while she was upstairs, packing her meager belongings.
“She shouldn’t go with you,” he finally blurted out what had been clawing its way out of his mind for the past ten minutes. He stopped his pacing and stared at the sitting brunette, not quite hating him, but unable to not wish bodily harm onto him. “She will be better off here. No one will touch her here.”
“Except for you?” Potter had spoken with such quiet venom that it had surprised Draco.
“That is not what I meant.”
“I know. And it doesn’t matter. She does not have the same rights as you. She can’t choose to do nothing.”
“But you’re taking her to her death,” Draco said, staring at the green-eyed wizard in front of him and barely hiding his own incredulity.
“She knows that,” Potter replied simply and glanced at the door, where she was standing, ready and set to go.
“Harry’s right, Draco. I don’t have the right to choose not to fight. I have lost too much to let it go unpunished.”
No teary goodbyes and no promises to stay in touch. Both would have been false. She left wordlessly, and Potter closed the door behind him and leaving Draco alone in the Manor.
The blond looked around himself and drew a breath. Now there was truly nothing.
Her words kept ringing and resonating in his head. She had lost too much to allow herself not to fight. She had lost too much and someone had to be punished for it, because she demanded payment. Nay! Revenge was what she wanted.
He hadn’t lost a thing in this war. He still had his money, his status, his power. Still had his friends, who regarded him the same despite his neutrality, and still had his mother. His father mattered little to him at the time, so the loss seemed minute. He had indeed lost nothing in this war. That is, until now.
Now he had lost her, and though he kept telling himself that she wasn’t his to keep in the first place, after three days in the almost aching silence of the desolated Manor, he had realized that she was his ‘too much’. With the realization came the determination, and with that the damnation.
He had joined the Death Eaters’ ranks as soon as his father has vouched for him. The night he has taken the Mark miles away she had woken up screaming, tears streaming down.
The punishment he craved had been dealt six months after his initiation. Harry Potter lost the duel, fighting like a lion.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.