Paint It Black
Disclaimer: All characters are the property of Ms. J.K. Rowling.
Harry Potter stared down at the train ticket in his hand and only now realized how fucking out of his mind he really was. He raked his nails down the inside of his left wrist, where he'd taken permanent marker and written things into his flesh as he sat on the bench in the train station and waited and waited.
He'd said goodbye to everyone, they'd all gone home to their families and graduation parties. And he sat and waited, the marker bleeding black across blue veins. His aunt and uncle didn't come. He had no doubt they'd forgotten. But he didn't give a fuck, he told himself as he flipped the marker into the nearby waste basket.
It was dusk. The lights in the station were coming on, yellow bulbs of color in the June night. A stationmaster hurried by in the purple light.
"Excuse me," Harry stood up, tugging his sleeve down over his forearm. He picked up the handle of his trunk. The man turned around.
"Excuse me, can I still get a ticket for Euston Station?"
The man looked at Harry, irritated. "Yes, but we close in two minutes, so hurry up."
"Thank you." But the man had already left.
Harry dragged his trunk to the ticket window, digging in his pocket for a few crumpled pound notes. The shutter on the window was halfway down. Harry peered underneath it.
"Sorry- how much's a ticket for Euston Station?"
The woman glared at Harry. "Thirty two pound fifty. But next rain's not till 11:15."
Harry dumped a handful of coins on the counter. He rifled through the heap of muggle money. "Fuck.." He didn't have nearly enough. "How much?"
The woman's stick-on nails clicked mutinously as she drummed them against the counter. "Thirty two pound fifty." She pursed her plum smeared lips.
Harry screwed up his eyes. "Look, I've only got £13.72 but I can give you this watch and," He reached over hastily unbuckling the leather strap. Ron had given it to him for Christmas two years ago. "I know it's worth … well, over twenty pounds so if you'll just-"
"What do you think this is? A bleedin' pawn shop? You don't got the money, you don't got the ticket. You got 32.50 or not?"
Harry was desperate; he shoved his stack towards the window. "No I haven't, but-"
The woman slammed the shutter down.
Harry rapped on it furiously. "No, m'am! Wait! M'am, please. Please!"
One of the light bulbs by the window flickered and went dead.
Sighing, Harry scooped the fistful of money into his pocket. He looked at his watch. It was 9:35.
Harry dragged his trunk to the opposite end of the station, to the baggage check area.
The same irritated man was moving boxes behind the counter.
Harry slid a five pound note across the desk. "I'd like to check this trunk till Tuesday please."
The man took the money without looking at Harry and grunting, heaved his trunk behind the counter.
Harry went back to his bench and sat, with his hands unmoving in his lap, and waited for the clock to hit 11:15.
Draco Malfoy scowled.
"Draco love! Come take your medicine!" He'd gotten so used to it all, he could now scowl peremptorily in anticipation of those little things that annoyed him the most.
His mother was standing on the steps of the veranda, in her white linen dress, one hand on her wide brimmed hat, the other hand cradling her gin and tonic. "Draco!"
Draco sat on the black rock beach, his corn-silk hair limp around his angled cheeks, damp from the spray of the sea.
"Draco, your medicine!"
Draco didn't turn around, but he heard Lucius come up beside his mother, put a gentle hand on her elbow and murmur something by her pearls.
"But darling, you know all that damp air isn't good for his lungs and with his condition I don't think…"
He heard his mother steered away, back to the guests and Draco silently thanked his father. The woman was fucking intolerable.
He fished into his pocket and pulled out a damp box of cigarettes. He stuck one in his lips and wearily pushed hair out of his eyes with his wrist. For all he cared the world could just go and fuck itself. He was done with it, done with the whole bloody mess.
He turned and flung the empty box into the black waves and coughed raggedly. He was done with school, done with all those bastards, the whole shit parade. He was through, now it was just him and his thin blood and weak lungs and his mother who was crushing him and his father who wished he'd die.
Draco realized he didn't have a lighter and stuck the cigarette behind his ear and coughed again. His father wouldn't even be in the same room with him anymore and Draco hated it. He could feel the quiet disdain coming from his father's direction, smearing him to a bad sepia exposure.
He hadn't saved the Dark Lord. He'd graduated fourth in his class and he was costing his father thousands a year in expensive blood thickening, lung-draining medicines. It wasn't his fault he'd been bed-ridden four months of the year so that Granger and Potter and two other Ravenclaws had gotten higher marks than him.
He had no plans for after graduation. Draco Malfoy had given up. He pulled the limp cigarette from behind his ear and stuck it in the corner of his mouth. He shuffled irately through his pockets, then smiled as he heard the familiar rattle of a box of matches. He pulled out a match and dragged it across the rock until he got a spark.
He lit up, inhaling the thick smoke deep into his weak lungs. He had to cough but he bit it back and took another long drag on the cigarette, blowing smoke out through his nostrils.
This time he couldn't hold back and he erupted in a fit of rasping coughs. He bent forward on the rock, grating his weight on to one elbow, pale hair slithering forward as his chest heaved with the motion.
He sat back, minutes later, breathing heavily and pushed hair back out of his pale eyes. He raised the cigarette to his lips, eyes smoldering, hand shaking slightly. He leaned back and shut his eyes. "I surrender," he whispered and the wind carried it away across the water.
And all of a sudden he was overwhelmed with a hatred for his father's contempt. Draco knew the look that would be on his face if he could see Draco now. "Well fuck you for birthing a son so fucking weak. It isn't my fucking bloodline! D'you hear that? FUCK YOU!"
He stood up on the black beach, sunken chest heaving, suddenly overcome with bitter heat. He shoved his shirtsleeves up past his bony elbows and tugged loose the knot in his tie. But he had to sit down as he was overcome with coughing. He hunched forward, shoulders aching. The wind pulled his tie out, then whipped it back across his cheek.
He sat and hated the wind, and heard his teeth chattering. Draco Malfoy didn't have regrets. Never. Until about a month ago. He didn't know what had possessed him to do it, couldn't remember what he'd been thinking at the time. He'd given Harry Potter one of the little slips of gold paper that was an invitation to his graduation party.
He thought it had something to do with the fact Harry's eyelashes were far too long for his boyish face or the fact their elbows always knocked in Potions or the bone that stuck out just a bit too far on the inside of Harry's wrist, or the hitch in his breath whenever he caught sight of the snitch. He always did it. Draco always heard it.
But mainly it was the blackness in his hair. The blackness that was definite, that was real. The richness in it couldn't be described, black as pitch, tar, raven's feathers, ebony, midnight- they all fell short. But it was thick and it picked up the light, like a glossy magazine photograph. Next to Harry Draco felt faded. He was underexposed, washed out, bleached- painted thin and wasting away while Harry breathed and exuded darkness.
One time Draco had caught hold of Harry's wrist and held on and Harry was solid and when Draco pulled his hand away there were purple marks.
So he'd slipped him the invitation and of course Harry hadn't fucking come and of i course /i he hadn't, but fuck, why had he done it? Seven years and not a slip up and then he'd thrown it all away with one little slip of gold paper.
And now Draco was turning black inside, he could feel it, with the drag in his lungs, the rhythms of his rotten heart and he just wished they'd all leave him alone.
Harry stood up from the bench. It was twenty after and the big locomotive had just wheezed into the station.
Harry looked down the platform- it was relatively empty except for a few tired businessmen shuffling towards the train. The shutter in the ticket window was still pulled down.
Harry walked forward to one of the doors near the end where there wasn't a conductor. He looked quickly over his shoulder and seeing no one was looking, he stepped inside.
He walked through a deserted car and then another with a sleeping old woman until he got to the tiny bathroom. He slid inside, locked the door and sat down on the top of the toilet, his breathing slightly quick.
He sat tense his back very straight, eyes narrowed until he felt the train lurch to life and with the steady churn of the wheels he let out a breath of relief.
He sat for a moment, then reaching deep in his pocket he pulled out a folded square of paper and held it tightly in his fist. He held it till his knuckles went white. The gold foil backing cut little ridges into his palm and he shut his eyes and listened to the hum of the train.
Draco sat on the black sand and looked out at the black ocean, indiscernible from the black sky. The water was cold as it surged up around his ankles and then sucked back, leaving little grooves around his heels. He coughed wretchedly, jarring his bones and looked out, listless over the sea.
His mother kept telling him he needed a haircut, because it was always falling into his eyes and she said it made him look ravaged.
"Don't worry mother," and he coughed, drawing his arms around his soaking knees, his hair sticking in his chapped lips.
He was sliding. And he found with alarm that he didn't care. He grated the insides of his wrists together, in a parody of trying to get warm, and looked up to find the stars, thinking of Harry.
"Cue: Requiem," he said, again preemptively, and reached into his trouser pocket, pulling out a black permanent marker. "Because I'm falling and you're falling and let's not fall together," he sang under his breath, lungs catching with fluid.
He uncapped the permanent marker and set the tip of it on the inside of his mouth. He ran it around his tongue and clicking, over his molars and on the roof of his mouth and over his gums. He pulled it across his lips, filling in the bleeding cracks and his tie whipped up across his mouth.
Then he took the marker and ran it underneath each eye, and then he put it at the pulse points on his wrists, and dragged it in a circle over his wrist bone, so he had black bracelet rings around each wrist. And he set it on his collarbones and beneath his ears and around his elbows until he was a smear of stinking black, black in all the places where he secretly wished Harry might kiss.
The fumes from the marker made him feel faint and he coughed once again, holding the back of his hand to his mouth as he did so, his thin shoulders hunched in—he imagined how the triangles of his shoulder blades would look from behind, raised up under his shirt like the stumps of wings.
He began to laugh to himself, moth half-open. "So Harry, can you see me now? Have I stopped wasting away? Can't you see me now Harry? Can't you?" And still laughing joylessly, he whipped the marker out into the black water.
He stood up and spun partway in a circle but his coughing over took him and he fell to his knees doubled over, spewing black.
He laughed again and coughed, wiping his mouth black on the back of his hand.
Harry bolted awake, almost falling off the toilet seat as angry banging sounded on the bathroom door.
"Open up! Sir! You must open this door!" The pounding continued.
Harry heard a shrill voice. "I tell you, he's been in there near two hours! It's absolutely intolerable is what it is. Completely insensitive! How dare he monopolize a public toilet like that! I just can't-"
"Yes m'am, I understand completely. Sir!" The door rattled on its hinges.
Harry stood up, hastily wiping his mouth with the inside of his wrist. He unlatched the little door and slid out. He'd no idea he'd fallen asleep.
He was faced with an irritated porter and a very angry older woman. It was the woman who'd been asleep in the deserted car.
"Sir it is inexcusable to spend that much time in a public restroom. Please consider that there are other passengers who might need to utilize our facilities."
Harry looked away, trying to squeeze down the corridor past the woman. "Yeah, I'm sorry," he muttered.
"Well I should hope you're sorry young man! Honestly the thoughtlessness of today's youth, I can tell you, we're in bad shape for the future."
Harry slid away along the wall into the next car, where he took a seat in back against the window. He could hear the woman still talking.
"He was a strange one anyway officer, did you see his mouth? All smeared black it was and he was bone thin, probably one of those heroine drug addicts. Haven't you heard the stories about those people climbing aboard trains, hopping on and off, using it as a vehicle for their addiction? I'd keep a lookout for him I would. Don't want that kind of filth on the trains I'm riding!"
"No m'am, certaintly not. So sorry again for the inconvenience."
Harry let his breath out in a hiss and pressed close against the windowpane, slouching low into his seat. He glued his eyes to the tar-colored darkness outside the train window, trying to look past his own smeared reflection into the night.
He heard the porter stop beside his seat. Harry swallowed tightly.
The man's voice was staple-gunned thinly with suppressed rage. "Ticket sir."
Harry licked his lips, shifting in his seat. "Uh… I seem to have misplaced it…" Harry dug into his pockets, pulling out wadded pound notes and chocolate frog wrappers.
"You cannot ride this train without a ticket."
Harry tugged his left sleeve over the mess of permanent marker on the inside of his forearm.
The man's eyes narrowed at the movement. "I know I just-"
"I'd like you to come with me sir." And the man wrenched Harry out of his seat by the elbow. Too stunned at first to resist, Harry tried to tug his arm away as he was pulled along the corridor. "Hey! Wait a minute, I-"
The porter pulled Harry into one of the dim connecting corridors and slammed him up against the aluminum wall. "Look here you!"
Harry absentmindedly rubbed his mouth with a closed fist. He still had the invitation folded in his palm.
"I don't know what kind of filthy drugs you're into, but I won't have any of it on my train. It's disgusting as it is, but doing it in a public bathroom, and the public bathroom of my train, I absolutely will not tolerate." He eyed Harry with evident revulsion. "People like you really sicken me."
Harry slid a little ways down the wall, feeling lightheaded. His breathing was ragged. He didn't say anything, just clenched his fist tighter around the square of gold paper.
The man's eyes twitched towards Harry's hand. "What's that you've got? Give it here!" He grabbed Harry's wrist and tried to pry his fingers apart.
"No!" Harry twisted his arm away, fingers gripping tighter still. He tried to slide away along the wall. "No, it isn't-"
But the man grabbed his arm again, twisting so that Harry let out a yell of pain. "Stop!" He gasped. "Let go!" The man took his hand off Harry's shoulder from where he was pinning him against the wall and Harry used that moment to duck away under his arm.
"Oh no you don't!" And he hit Harry close-fisted across the mouth.
Harry fell forward onto his knees, feeling blood well around his teeth.
The man reached down and tore the paper from Harry's fist. Harry made a noise of protest and swayed sideways into the wall.
"What is this?" He opened up the gold paper and sneered at the silver script. "What, did you steal this off somebody? Use it to cut your lines? Hid your stash somewhere else did you?"
Harry leaned forward on his elbows and spat blood.
"Get up you vermin!" And he seized Harry by his upper arm and dragged him to his feet. The train was beginning to slow.
"Euston Station!" A ticket master was shuffling down the car ahead of them. "Euston Station."
"Oy! Henry!" The porter called out to the other man, fingers grinding into the bone of Harry's upper arm. "I got to take this one to the station. You hold up for me?"
The man stopped in the little corridor. "Course. What's the trouble?"
"Found some filthy junkie shooting up in the toilet." He leaned against Harry into the wall. Harry's fingers scraped at the paneling; he put his palm up to his mouth to stop the blood running down his chin. "Plus he didn't have a ticket. Filthy stowaway."
The ticket master made a revolted face. "God, get him off."
Harry fell forward a step as the train shuddered to a halt. The porter threw the door open, pushing Harry down the steps in front of him.
It was black in Euston Station. The sea came right up to the North side of the platform, lying like oil against the black rocks.
Harry tried to twist away as the porter wrestled him across the platform. He talked around a mouth of blood. "Listen I'm not a junkie. And I lost my ticket, Please!" He tugged at his arm but the porter was about three times Harry's size and he spun him easily into a nearby pillar.
He dug Harry's back into the wood and put his face right up to Harry's. His large face was mottled by shadow in the half-light under the station lamps. "Maybe if you didn't inject that poison into your veins you'd be a normal man's size. Bet you didn't think of that when you started."
Harry squirmed against his grip, his breathing ragged. "Please, just let me go, I haven't done anything wrong I-" Harry words were lost in a gasp as the porter's hand came up around his throat. He gagged on his swallowed breath.
"I don't want to hear more lies from you. I'm taking you in there and we're going to phone the police and they are going to take you and lock you away so you'll never be able to intrude on polite society again."
Harry's hands came up to his own throat. He couldn't breathe, he could feel the muscles in his throat squeezed together too tight. He began to panic, silently. His lungs were going to burst.
And then he did something, if not for the circumstances, he would never have dreamt of doing. With his last bit of strength, his knee came up between the porter's legs. The man doubled with a hollow shout of pain.
Harry felt air fill his lungs and he drew a grateful breath before writhing sideways and snatching at the sheet of gold in the porter's hand.
He bellowed in protest and wouldn't let go. Harry pulled and the paper tore in his hand.
The porter was staggering to his feet, but Harry didn't wait for him. He took off running towards the end of the platform.
"Stop that boy!"
But Harry came to the edge of darkness, and jumped into the sea.
The sun was rising gray over the ink-colored water and Draco lay on the sand, soft music in his head.
His tie trailed limp as the water came up around his shoulders and surged softly past his black lips. It was very quiet and he was angry because his requiem had not been put to justice. "Cue: waves." He said softly through a mouth full of salt water. If he shut his eyes very tight, he could hear machine gun fire over the horizon.
He opened his ink-rimmed eyes and tilted his head up the beach. There was someone coming.
Draco rolled over onto his face and sighed, sand in his mouth.
The person stopped by Draco's head.
Draco started to cough. He brought his knees up under his chest, fingers digging into the sand. His hair was plastered gold with saltwater to his skull.
And then the cough turned into a sob and the tears burned black straight down his cheeks. He sat up, one knee against his chest, hair sticking in his black eyelashes, and sobbed.
Through a blur of tears he saw Harry Potter, dripping wet, breathing hard, his mouth dark with smeared blood, standing on the sand in front of him.
Draco looked up, mouth closed, black tears dripping off his cheeks. He saw that Harry's shoulders were shaking.
Harry dropped to his knees in front of Draco.
Draco slid forward a bit, tears sliding soundlessly down his neck.
Harry held out his hand and Draco saw half a gold invitation, lying sodden in Harry's palm. "Sorry I'm late," he gasped.
Draco looked at the invitation, then he looked up at Harry. He rubbed his knuckles in his black eyes.
Then Harry leaned forward and kissed him, open-mouthed, tasting permanent marker.
Draco sighed into him and leaned forward, shifting his mouth.
The waves came up around their knees and Draco's wet tie stuck against Harry's arm.
Harry pulled back, his fingers both in fists and looked at Draco. His voice was a whisper, he lowered his eyes, tone almost apologetic. "You're all black."
Draco leaned forward and set his lips dark on Harry's cheek. His words were colored with a smile as he spoke against Harry's skin. "Only for you, my little turnip blossom."
Then Harry took hold gingerly of each of Draco's black wrists and kissed him again, harder, with Draco's eyelids fluttering softly on his cheeks.
Draco shifted closer, his knee sliding between Harry's. He pulled his mouth away to draw a shaking breath and was overtaken by a shuddering cough. His eyes screwed up in pain, and he tried rapidly to crawl backwards but Harry tightened his grip on each wrist, refusing to let go.
His voice was hoarse but firm and he pulled Draco to him, still coughing violently, and hugged him hard, his lips lost in Draco's hair, "Shhh. Shhh."
He waited till Draco's coughing had subsided and he bent his head down to Draco's, finding his mouth Harry kissed him harder still, till Draco's mouth was bruised and the acid of permanent marker burned in Harry's gums.
Harry pulled away and Draco reached forward and put his fingers in Harry's hair and made a little sobbing sound, like wind caught in his throat. He bent his head, snatching his fingers back against his mouth and shoulders shaking, he felt his tears running black, all over his face.
Harry whispered "Quiet love," and kissed him on both cheeks.
Then, eyes gone black, he took Draco's arm and kissed him on the wrist and at his elbow where the marker made a ring. He bent closer and kissed each black ear and his neck.
He kissed his black cheekbones and his little black nose and on the blackened rise of each shivering eyelid.
He slid back the stick of Draco's damp shirt and kissed his bony shoulders and his narrow chest. He kissed each rib with a tender movement and Draco shook in silence.
He kissed the swell of his belly and then he lay Draco back onto the sand and he wrapped himself around him, his head against Draco's neck, and as the waves rose around them Draco reached down and fastened his mouth against Harry's and it was black on black and Harry shut his eyes and felt Draco's heartbeat pounding fast against his chest.
(and they lived happily ever after)