compos_dementis: Picture of anime Mello with gothic M (Default)
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OMG, I'm posting H/R fic again... *checks temperature*

I'm back from my anime hole? Huh. Imagine that.

Title: Bitter
Author: compos_dementis
Fandom: Harry Potter
Pairing: Harry/Ron, implied Harry/Ginny if you squint
Rated: PG for mentions of death and sex
Warnings: implied character death.
Disclaimer: Not mine. No harm, no foul. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Summary: The air is bitter, and the pillow’s cold, and Ron doesn’t feel the same as he used to.


Maybe one day
I can wake up
To someone familiar
Sleeping by my side.

***

Waking up alone wasn’t a new experience to Harry Potter.

The air around him was bitter. It seemed to him for a moment that it had always been that way, that the small taste of happiness had never existed. The air was bitter and the sheets were cold, even though he’d spent the entire night with them tightened around him, clutched in his fists. He missed the time when blankets were warmer, when there was soft skin to wake up to.

He scrubbed a tired hand over his face, eyes still closed and achy from lack of sleep. His stubble hurt to rub, but it was a good kind of hurt he didn’t really find anywhere else. On instinct, he reached out to touch the pillow next to him, and wasn’t surprised to feel the harsh cold of the pillowcase on his fingertips.

As far as he was concerned, it had always been cold.

He rolled over, listening to the springs in the mattress creak softly. Then he opened his eyes and waited for them to adjust to the paperback-gray light filtering through the curtain on the window, reaching for the dusty glasses sitting beside his tiny bedside clock.

He had fallen asleep fully dressed again. It wasn’t a surprise to find himself in jeans. He gathered up the energy to sit up in his bed and throw his feet off the side, reaching around half-blindly for his boots. He found them beneath the bed, his fingertips brushing the stiff leather, and he crammed his feet into them.

His shoes were cold.

He got up and wandered out into the kitchen blearily, head throbbing in his tiredness and annoyance bubbling inside him from the sound of the train passing nearby. The refrigerator’s light seemed too bright for his eyes when he opened the door, and when he finally got used to it, he sighed in disappointment. There was never any food in the house anymore. The fridge contained spoiled milk and one of those flavored coffee cream things he’s picked up at the store last Thursday.

He didn’t know the date.

There was a knock at the door, and he checked his watch. It was five-thirty, but he had already known the time, just like he already knew who it was at the door.

He answered it, enjoying the way the doorknob felt on his heated palm. He was right as always, and blinked in the dim light at his guest.

Ron always showed up too early.

“You look like hell,” Ron said, voice weary, and he was already pushing his way into Harry’s flat without invitation.

Harry just closed the door after a moment, making sure to memorize the picture of how it looked outside. Wet, gray, dull. Like everything else now.

There was something sad in Ron’s eyes. They were always pretty, his eyes, probably the most physically admirable part about him. Hermione’s eyes were a normal brown, and Harry’s were that unsettling green. Ron’s were wonderful, dark blue like twilight, like oceans, like… like…

“Have you?”

The question fell from Harry’s lips quietly, and it hurt to talk. His lips were so chapped and cracked and broken, and he ran a tongue over them gingerly.

Ron looked down at the floor for a moment as if looking for dropped change.

“Yes,” he said simply.

Harry nodded to show he understood. “It needed to be done,” he said.

Ron swallowed. “I know.”

The lights were still turned off. They had been for the past week.

The silence pressed on his ears so hard that it hurt. He tried to close his eyes and will it away, tried to hold back the tears, but they all came. All the pain he’d been holding back was free, tumbling from him without any warning.

Ron was quick to respond, running over and wrapping is arms around Harry’s shaking shoulders and murmuring words of comfort into his ear.

“It wasn’t your fault,” he said quietly.

“Yes, it was,” Harry insisted. “I was the one who wouldn’t let go.”

Ron just ran his hand over Harry’s back and nodded slowly, a kind of far-away look on his face. Ron was never really there anymore. He was always somewhere else, somewhere kinder, maybe.

“But I was the one who did,” Ron said, his voice becoming suddenly cold.

Harry buried his face in Ron’s neck and tried to take it all in at once: the feel of the jacket on his cheek, the soft skin pressing into his nose, the smell of cigarette smoke.

“I want to know,” Harry whispered, the plea clear in his voice. He’d always wanted to know.

Ron nodded again, his other hand holding Harry’s head. Maybe it was comfort. Maybe the whole thing was supposed to be comfort, but it all came out as something entirely different. And it felt brilliant, to hurt a little more.

Harry brushed his lips along Ron’s jaw line absently, fascinated by it. Ron was always fascinating to him. Happy, cheerful, funny, except when he was like this. Distant, unresponsive, cold.

Harry could hardly remember a time when he was warm.

“Do you want to?” Ron asked, and it was like the whole world stopped for them.

The question was easy to answer. “Yes,” said Harry, and then the world fell beneath his feet and he was falling.

Ron tasted like cigarettes and beer. Harry couldn’t care less. He just needed to be here now, with Ron, kissing, touching, feeling. Ron had bitten into his shoulder at one point, hard enough to bring blood, and Harry welcomed the sensation of pain. He preferred feeling pain to feeling nothing, and it felt good to hurt on the outside when he hurt so much on the inside.

It was over all too quickly. That was the lesson of this cruel game they played: nothing ever lasts.

“It’s cold,” Harry said, nudging closer to Ron’s body. It was still cold to the touch, but he didn’t care. He needed someone.

“I know,” Ron replied, quietly, arms holding him as if he was going to fall.

Harry ran his fingertips along Ron’s ribs, feeling them one by one. Ron inhaled under his touch, but relaxed.

“I miss her,” Harry said, and it came out all too empty, all too knowing.

The air was bitter, before, and the quiet threatened to settle in for the night, leaving him with silence.

He closed his eyes. “It’s cold,” he said again.

And the air was still bitter, and his shoulder hurt, but at least tonight he wouldn’t have to sleep alone.
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