This Mortal Coil
by Mexx

And when your fears subside
And shadows still remain
I know that you can love me
When there's no one left to blame
So never mind the darkness
We still can find a way
'Cause nothin' lasts forever
Even cold November rain

Another year has passed, and the rain drizzles down like it had twelve months before. A young man sits at his seat by the frosted--or possibly just dusty--window in the muggle pub. He reminisces about the year gone by; nothing has changed. The war has not progressed nor faltered, and the death toll rises as steadily as ever. And everyday he thinks about her, just as he has since the last moment he saw her.

He's changed in the past year, his once beautiful angular face now gaunt; pale skin stretched over the hollow slants of his face; and dulled grey eyes set in a cool look of apathy, refusing to show the tears that threaten to spill. Tears forged from a memory lost, of a night that would not leave his mind, and a woman whose presence he was now denied.

He brings a cigarette to his lips, and lights it. It's a muggle habit that he's picked up in the last year, he doesn't do it because he enjoys the nicotine or tobacco or the smoky-rich taste falling down his throat, but because it's muggle, and reminds him of her. Not that she'd ever engage in such a habit as smoking, but still...

A year, and nothing. Not a word, not an owl. She's not even been in the headlines like she'd been in the past. Draco remembers the contempt that had risen in him every time he'd read about Potter, Weasley and Hermione's latest triumph in the Daily Prophet. Now he'd damn well frame an article, just to be able to remember he once knew her. To remember how once-upon-a-time she was his.

A group of rowdy youths sit at the table alongside his. He stubs out his cigarette and moves to a seat at the bar. What use is solitude if you can't enjoy it alone? He orders another drink, pays for it and gazes into the clear liquid. He must have visited a hundred different bars, clubs and pubs in the last year, hoping to find her, but to no avail. She had slipped from his clutches like an angel ascending from this mortal coil; twelve months ago she had slid from his embrace leaving him only her soft scent on his pillow to remember her by. And now through the smoky veil that has shrouded every patron of the bar, the woman he hasn't seen in a year slips onto the bar stool next to his.

"Hello Draco," she begins. Her voice is soft, uncertain. Draco can imagine why; if she feels anything near to the panic swelling within him he can understand her hesitancy; he is torn between capturing her in his arms and bolting for the door.

He imagines himself moving toward her, no words needed as he pushes her down against the bar and kisses her lips, her face, her breasts. In his mind, the patrons of the establishment fade to grey until nothing is left but himself and her, and the delicious feeling of the lost feel of her body beneath his own. She'd tremble beneath his touch, beg for it, convulse around his fingers. But none of it would be enough to sate his hunger, his longing for her. Nothing except the peace he'd found once before, on that fated night one year ago.

"Draco..." she says again, and he realises he was too lost in his own thought of ravishing the woman in front of him to acknowledge her. And he realises, with yet another crack in his heart, it's the first time she's spoken to him in eleven years. It was too heartbreakingly perfect last time, for words to have been needed. Now though, everything is dark and broken, and nothing perfect save for the memory of a touch.

"Hermione." He nods, and greets her stoically, "It's been awhile."

She nods in agreement, but says nothing. What could she say? She hadn't intended to meet him here, on this night, but she'd known in her heart that'd he'd be here. How could he not be? He was an emotional masochist, just like she was; here for the acrid taste of heartbreaking kisses.

Draco watches her as she sits silently. Just like he, she has paled, lost weight–an anorexic beauty, shatteringly beautiful in her tragic pain. "My God, Hermione. You look awful!" he exclaims, if not to break the silence, then to provoke an emotion in her.

"You don't look so hot, yourself." She counters with a broken smile gracing her lips.

"I've been better," he admits, "but haven't we all." His sentence tails off and his hand leaves its place cupping his glass, and makes it's way to her thigh. So much for pleasantries, but then, what use are they when so much history has been shared between two people? Her skin is hot. Burning. He feels the heat emanating from her, even through the fabric of her skirt. He needs it, he realises. The warmth. The life.

"Draco..." she whispers, barely audible under the din of the bar's noise. Her voice is pleading. For what he isn't quite sure. Nor, can she say for certain, is she.

He ignores her plea. His hand slips under her skirt, and advances up her thigh. Her skin is warmer still. He relishes the feeling of her beneath his touch—for how long had he longed to touch her once more? His hand travels further still, but he watches what he is doing. Avoids her eyes. He knows, like last time, that her eyes will be his undoing.

"Draco, please. Stop," Hermione moans, but her words hold little conviction.

Draco refuses to back down as his digits caress her flesh. She's been the one to come here, approach him. She wants this as much as he does, even if she won't admit it vocally. Her body's rising temperature and her fluttering breath speaks volumes. "Please," he echoes, and finally meets her gaze.

As his grey eyes meet her brown ones, any idea of resistance she may have entertained disappears and she is lost in the longing of his grey orbs. Draco takes her silence as an affirmative answer, lets go of her leg, loops his fingertips through hers and pulls her out of the bar into the rain filled November night.

They can't stand the wait of the walk back to his house like last time. The need is too great. As soon as they step outside of the bar Draco reaches for Hermione and draws her to him. His lips touch hers and ignite a fire within them both. The kiss is fast, rushed. As if in a moment too soon they'd be drawn away from one another. Gradually, though, the kiss slows into the unhurried waltz of dancing lips, the pitter-patter of the rain around them--their own private orchestra.

Draco's tongue caresses Hermione's lip, and she pulls away briefly to whisper, "I need you."

That is all he needs. All he needs to propel himself from her embrace and drag her into a darkened alley and kick the litter out of the way. He doesn't need any rubbish right now, he needs her.

He throws her, almost violently, against the damp brick walls and drives his lips and pelvis against her in synchronisation. Rainwater drips onto his head but he cares for nothing save the woman eliciting these feelings from within his body as her roaming hands caress him, touch him--everywhere.

Their clothes are torn off and pushed out of the way in haste. He kisses her roughly, and leaves a stubble burn on her cheek. She doesn't feel inclined to care—all she cares for is him. Their bodies are rubbing together, touching, melding. He mutters a contraceptive spell before entering her, touching her everywhere, and lost inside of her.

And, for a brief moment he finds peace.

The peace, like all things, is fleeting. Transient. And within seconds Draco feels the urge to move within her. Create friction. Create feeling. He moves inside of her, swiftly. His fingers move down between their heated bodies and touch her. She gasps, and she shudders around him as she climaxes. He orgasms seconds later, but it doesn't provide quite the release he craves.

They collapse against each other, harsh pants assaulting their lungs from their exertion. Draco loves the burning sensation in his lungs, he craves any sensation that will take his mind away from the darkness ebbing at his soul.

The fast, frantic movements fade to nothing as they rest. They shift positions, so that he is against the wall and she atop of him. He sinks to the floor, his body resting against his cloak. The damp of the wall still sinks through to his skin, though. She remains straddling his hips, and her head falls against the hollow of his neck.

That his how they both feel: hollow. Empty and deserted and full only of the knowledge that every day after the next will hold the same inescapable barrenness. How could is be any different, when the only escape they find is in each other, and they know that they will part, exactly as they did last time, to fall back into a world of hollow despair?

"You're going to leave again, aren't you?" Draco asks, his voice dull. What he asks is barely a question. He knows what the answer will be.

She pulls away from him, attempts to look him in the eye but his gaze is staring, unfocused, into some unknown universe. "What else am I supposed to do? What other choice have you given me?"

"You could stay," he suggests, but refuses to look her in the eye. His boyish impudence is no longer as charming as it once was.

She stands up, adjusts her clothing and smoothes her hair. "You've never given me a reason to." Hermione stares at him for a moment, but he doesn't turn to look at her. He remains slumped on the floor, half dressed and broken in the damp alley.

Hermione turns, walks away, she wants to remain locked in his safe, warm embrace but she knows it cannot happen. For one, his embrace is neither safe, nor warm. It is cool, refreshing, like ice. And that of a dangerous lover, not of the warm comfort of a companion. She needs more than this, more than a relationship wherein perfection is only found through silence and sex. She needs words of love, of tenderness.

She reaches the end of the alley, and pauses in the opening to the street. She doubts herself-- can she leave this man? This man, whose touch conveys caring but his words- or lack thereof- hold next to nothing by way of emotion.

A turn of the head, and the meeting of eyes and she is lost in the windows to his soul. Slate grey eyes begging her not to leave him, and so, at his request, she remains. She runs back to him, falls into his arms and peppers frantic kisses on his face, her arms wrap around his neck and touch his face, loving the feel of his touch on her body. The touch of a lover, and not that of a cold man searching for solace.

Hermione shakes her head, as if to shake away the scene playing in her mind. She does not turn back, for that would be her undoing, and she needs to break this ritual that she has engaged in; this apparent yearly ritual where she gives everything, only to have lost everything by daybreak. She smoothes down the damp creases her robes, and pats down her hair, biding time and giving him a chance to speak, but he does not take it.

Behind her back, Draco is still sitting motionless, unmoved physically, but torn apart inside, staring at the woman who is about to leave him. He opens his mouth, her name escapes his lips in a harsh croak, "Hermione."

Again, she turns around to meet his gaze, her eyes pleading with his.


She turns back, faces the street and marches back out into it. She mutters something under her breath, a farewell perhaps, possibly a declaration of hate or love...but Draco doesn't hear it.

She leaves him, finally. Walks away from the mortal clutches he had enveloped her in this evening to go back to her world of realism and deadlines, away from the man who for at a moment at a time, had the touch to make everything perfect.


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