Chapter 7 : 7.
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In dreams you don’t need to make any distinctions between things. Not at all. Boundaries don’t exist. So in dreams there are hardly ever collisions. Even if there are, they don’t hurt. Reality is different. Reality bites. Reality, reality. — Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart
Reality means you live until you die. The real truth is nobody wants reality. — Chuck Palahnuik
“Are you seeing someone new or something?” Ron asks him one day at work.
Harry is staring at his coffee cup distractedly, thinking that it never tastes as good as when Draco makes it for him in the mornings in the other world. “Hum?”
“It’s just that you seem really… happy these days. But you’re kind of distant too. It’s like you’re not really here.”
“Is it?” Harry looks deep into the coffee cup and wonders what Draco does when Harry drifts off, goes to sleep and ends up here, wonders what he’s doing right now. “It’s probably just because I’m tired. I haven’t been sleeping very well lately.”
He stands up, avoiding Ron’s disbelieving eyes, and decides that for some reason in this reality, the lights don’t seem as bright. In fact, everything here is less clear, misty and blurred like a dream. “This coffee’s rubbish. I’m going to make some more.”
Maybe Draco is in their kitchen making coffee too, just waiting for him to wake up.
Harry isn’t quite sure how Draco manages to talk him into going for a drive, but soon enough, they are headed down the road on what Draco has deemed an ‘adventure’ in the old BMW Harry keeps around for emergencies. Draco is pouting because Harry won’t let him drive without a Muggle license (as if he would ever trust Draco with a Muggle car even if he had one) and has taken to rolling the passenger-side window up and down in retaliation.
“Don’t make me child-lock you,” Harry says threateningly as the glass goes sliding down again and a burst of chilly wind rushes into the car again, making his hair stand on end. Well, even more than it did normally anyway.
Draco narrows his eyes, hand on the button. “You wouldn’t dare.”
It turns out that Harry does, in fact, dare and he refuses to let Draco open the windows again, even when the air in the car becomes stifling from the heat of the sunset as it filters through the windshield.
Draco sulks and fiddles with the Muggle car radio, fighting Harry off so he can listen to the oldies station. Eventually, Harry relents and tries to memorize the obnoxious way Draco hums to all the songs even when he doesn’t know the tune, so he can remember it when he has to wake up tomorrow alone in the other world.
“You know, I don’t love a lot of people,” Draco says abruptly during a commercial break, as the sun sinks fully into the horizon, “but I love you. Even if you’re a stupid, controlling git.”
Draco hasn’t said it very much since Harry came here, to this world, but it’s been enough to make him realize that they probably had the ‘I love you’ conversation a while ago. Even so, there is something about this ‘I love you’, this moment in the car, this look on Draco’s face, that makes Harry feel like it is really being said to him.
This Harry. The one he is right now, at this moment.
He thinks: this one.
“I love you too,” he says, and Draco’s face breaks into a blinding smile, like the sun coming out from behind some clouds, and the smile fills him up somehow, warm sunlight soaking into his body. “Even when you try to cook.”
Draco smacks his chest. “Don’t lie. You love my unique creations.”
“No, seriously. Out of concern for your health, please don’t try to cook with the Muggle oven anymore. It doesn’t work the way you think it does.”
“Is that why you haven’t been eating lately? Is my cooking really that bad?” He reaches across and catches Harry’s wrist as he tries to wave the questions away, because honestly, Harry can’t remember the last time he actually tasted food and Draco’s eyes would go wide and worried if he knew that and he would probably make him pull the car over and attempt to force-feed him lard. Or something. “God, you have skinny wrists. If someone wanted to, they could snap you like a twig. How are you an Auror again?”
Harry shrugs. “Animal magnetism?”
Draco makes a show of examining his arm, circling his fingers right above Harry’s hand and tisking when they loop around too easily, with space to spare, before taking the hand into his lap so he can trace the lines of Harry’s palm (is that his lifeline, his loveline —? Harry has forgotten all of his Divination training by now).
“You’re about as magnetic as a tarantula,” Draco snorts, weaving the fingers of their hands together like a little hand basket, but Harry can see him smiling out of the corner of his eye. “Get off at the next exit so we can get something to eat. I’m so hungry I could eat a horse — wait, no. That sounds disgustingly plebeian. I’m so hungry I could eat my body weight in pastries.”
“What a surprise,” Harry mutters, knowing he’ll be ignored.
Draco seems to contemplate the idea for a moment, staring out the windshield into the gathering clouds and threading their fingers together even more tightly, before turning to him decidedly.
“Harry,” he commands, “I require pastries. Buy me some.”
Harry laughs, loud and full, agreeing to pull off at the next place that looks promising, and he can almost feel Draco’s smugness from across the car as he sits back in his seat again to draw strange (probably demonic) shapes into the back of Harry’s wrist.
And it isn’t Harry’s fault that it begins to rain, the precipitation turning the street dark and slick so that it mirrors the headlights of the passing cars, just as it isn’t his fault that a truck heading the opposite direction takes a corner too fast, tires trying to grip the asphalt and failing.
Draco is singing along loudly to an awful song on the Muggle radio now, making up lyrics that smack of impropriety, and still has one hand intertwined with Harry’s, their fingers a tangled knot of pale, English skin. Harry laughs again at a particularly lewd line, taking his eyes away from the road for a moment to stare in wonder at their joined hands, when there is a horrible screeching sound, like tearing metal, and the truck smashes Harry’s small car into the barrier on the side of the road.
“Harry?” Someone is calling his name, it sounds like it might be Hermione or one of the women that works in the Aurors with him, and Harry thinks with relief that maybe he finally, at long last, has woken up for the last time. That there will be no more dreaming after this. “Harry? Are you awake?”
He tries to open his eyes and the world is a blur of too-bright light, tilting endlessly on its axis. The spinning makes his stomach roll, and suddenly, he realizes: this is the wrong world. He doesn’t want this. He wants —
His eyelids slam shut again and suddenly, the smell of gasoline and wet asphalt assaults his nose.
“Harry,” a voice croaks to his left over the background noise of the hissing engine and the shards of glass still falling to the ground, shattering. “Where are you? Harry?”
Pain tears through him as he tries to suck in a breath, his eyes filling with tears, and before he can reply, Draco is gone and the other voices are back, saying, “ — just fainted clean away in the corridor.”
“Ron says he’s hardly seen him in weeks but I never…” Hermione’s voice is thin and breathless, panicked. “He looks so thin. Do you think he’s been il — oh, the Mediwizard! Thank god!”
There’s a strong hand gripping his wrist, touching his throat, and his skin feels clammy all over. Everything is too warm and he can’t breathe. “His pulse is too fast. We need to — “
Harry doesn’t blink so much as he wills his eyes closed and the gasoline smell is back, but so is the pain and he’s never felt agony like this, as if his pelvis has been ground into powder and his legs have been twisted out of their shape, into every wrong direction possible.
There is a tormented moan from next to him and Harry rips his eyes open, desperately trying to focus on anything that might be Draco’s face. The car is on its side, gravity pulling his head towards the ground and his eyes are having a hard time adjusting to the angle.
The silver of Draco’s hair stands out against the twisted, wrecked interior of the car now, but Harry can see blearily that there is a big gash that cuts across his scalp and down over his forehead, scarlet trails of blood running cross-wise down his face like stripes, and there are dark bruises blooming on his cheekbone and eye socket.
“Harry,” he chokes out when he finally catches his eyes, and there are tears sliding down his face that run crooked because of the angle of the car.
Harry tries to speak, attempting to clear his throat, but all that comes up is metallic-tasting liquid that causes him to hack a cough and suddenly the interior of the car is gone and he is staring up into the intense eyes of a Mediwizard. His lungs are gasping for air and his skin feels too small for his body, too hot and itchy and drenched with sweat. He can hear his heartbeat thrumming away in his ears like he’s just sprinted a mile.
“He’s going into cardiac arrest, I — “ The man stops when he sees Harry open his eyes and he moves to grasp his hand tightly. “Come on, Harry. Don’t let go! Stay with me! Stay with — “
Another blink and he’s back in the car, looking up at Draco as he reaches his hand out. One of his arms is pinned by a crumpled part of the car and so he is twisting, reaching towards Harry across his own body.
Harry chokes on the tears as they mix with the blood in his throat and holds his hand out to meet him half-way, but the seat-belt is digging into his chest. He stretches, pushes against it, to the point of blinding pain and finally feels Draco’s fingers wrap around his.
He coughs again, red flecks landing on the bent shape of the steering wheel in front of him and Harry swears he hears Draco let out a quiet sob.
“Don’t let go, Harry. Stay with me.”
There is a ringing noise in his ears, crescendoing as his eyes begin to blur again and over the ringing, he can hear two sets of people calling his name desperately.
He closes his eyes again to block out the sickening whirl of the world, a deep drowsiness spiraling into his consciousness, and Harry can’t remember the last time he actually slept. His body feels heavy, filled with lead, and everything is sinking, as if he’s being pulled down to join the asphalt, the earth, and the only thing keeping him from falling is the hand gripping his.
Then, his eyelashes flutter, the loud ringing finally blocking out the voices so that he is alone in the blissful darkness at last. Finally, some relief. And Harry allows himself drift down, off into sleep.
A/N: So this is the end, the end of all things. I'm really interested in what theories anyone may have about this whole thing, the dreams and the fluid ideas about reality. What was real and what was a dream? I have an idea of my own, but I'm happier leaving you all to think and come up with things on your own.
This fic was a total accident, and 18,000 words I never intended (the great story accordion), but I love it so much. Thank you all for being willing to go down this road with me, even though it was a bit out of the norm. It's been a bit hard to let it go, but since it is only my second completed story, I think it's okay that I'm a bit attached haha.
First of all, Oliphant-sized thank you's to Melissa (witnesstoitall), who encouraged me to start this story and listened to me talk about it nonstop for two months (or was it three?) -- this story would not exist without you. Second, thank you to my awesome beta Janechel (TenthWeasley), who loves me in spite of the fact that i cannot spell myself out of a locked box. Thirdly, to all my wonderful friends, you know who you are: thank you for laughing with me, crying with me, and loving this story more than I could ever have thought possible. You're the washboard abs to my kpop idol boyband and I don't know what I would do without any of you. Lastly, this fic was inspired by several alternate reality fics, which are very popular in other fandoms but somehow not in this one, so a big thank you to all the writers out there dedicated to writing quality fanfiction. Thank you for inspiring me and for helping me fill hours of my life that i should be spending doing useful things. No one can procrastinate by themselves and I appreciate it more than I can say haha.
And now that this A/N is nearly longer than the chapter, Drarry says goodbye to you all!
Disclaimer: The wonderful world of Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling. I own nothing you recognize.