HP: To Live Doesn't Mean You're Alive Title:To Live Doesn’t Mean You’re Alive Characters/Pairings:Harry Potter/ Narcissa Malfoy Rating:PG-13 Warnings:Talk of death. Word Count:1810 Prompt//Summery:#28 Harry/Narcissa. She was the only one with him in that moment between life and death. Notes:With thanks to E for all that she does.
Harry doesn’t really have time to properly think about what happened to him until it is all over. It starts as something that only creeps into his mind when he is alone, the memories and images of what he has been through, blurring into one giant waking nightmare that he can’t get himself out of. He sees other people trying to put their lives back together again and move on, grieve for those they had lost, and live for those they still had and Harry finds himself unable to properly identify with any of it. Then it gets worse. It isn’t just when he is alone anymore but when he is faced with the realities of the war. He is at the Weasley’s house and conversation inevitably turns to those trying to return to some sense of normality, Ron’s first few weeks of helping out at the joke shop and his experiences of seeing Diagon Alley slowly start to function again properly. Harry finds that the more they talk about it all the less he can take in. He feels like he is physically drifting further away from them all until he can hardly hear what they are saying, hardly see them because his vision has blurred and slowly everything dissolves into a haze of mumbling until all he can hear is his own voice in his head telling him that he should have died and had no right to be there listening to them.
Overcome with the dizziness, Harry abruptly pushes his hair away from the table and mutters something about needing some fresh air before he stumbles out into the back garden. He is dimly aware of the house falling silent behind him and hopes that no one follows him to ask what is wrong. He wouldn’t know what to say. Everything, is the only vague answer he can come up with.
Harry had been the weapon; he was meant to win the war but not survive it.
Essentially he thinks as he wanders further down the garden towards a bench and slumps into it, feeling a heavy weight settle in his bones, he had died. He was meant to die and he had done so. The problem was he had come back and that wasn’t part of anyone’s plans. Harry had no idea how to explain that, no idea how to begin to cope with it. Any of it. It felt like any life he left would be one he had stolen from time, one that was borrowed and not meant to be. Anyone he loved was meant to be with another, anything he achieved was meant to be the glory of someone else. Yet how does he explain that to those that worry about him? How does he explain that when he sleeps he sees the people Voldemort tortured and that, in his eyes, Harry failed to save in time and when he is awake he sees a life he has no right to be living when so many are dead.
As time passes, he pulls away from people more instead of healing as they do and the painful worried stares become harder to cope with. Hinted messages that he needs to start moving on make him feel bitter and misunderstood and he snaps at people more than once, becoming less convinced he wants them to leave him alone for a while and more convinced he just wants to be on his own with his own demented concerns and nightmares.
It isn’t until he sees her that he starts to think and to wonder and eventually obsess. Narcissa Malfoy. Harry had heard that they would be put on trial and something had twisted painfully inside him. To the bewilderment and deafening roars of objection from his friends he had offered to testify on behalf of the Malfoys to keep them out of prison. Lucius he couldn’t care less about, Draco he just wanted to disappear but Narcissa was different.
Narcissa had been there. Narcissa had been there in the moment he had given himself over to what he had seen as his destiny. Death had taken him, and yet he had come back and it was the arms of Narcissa Malfoy that he awoke in. It was her voice he heard and it was that question, that fear for her son, that made Harry realise he was not imagining things. He was back. It created a connection between them.
There are many things that Harry is not sure of after the end of the war but he is sure of that at least. Narcissa, Voldemort, and the other Death Eaters present had seen Harry Potter be struck by a killing curse and survive for the second time in his life. Then moments later she held him as he came back to life. She was the only one with him in that moment between life and death.
There are not many things that people will refuse him after the war and Narcissa Malfoy is no exception when Harry demands that she meet him at an Inn in Knockturn Alley. The Inn is sleazy, dirty, filled with prostitutes and disgraced wizards that hit from mainstream wizarding society. The Death Eaters had been removed from their midst but thieves and other suspicious characters remain so no one pays attention to the young wizard slipping in with his hood up, slamming gold on the counter and quietly renting a room and disappearing up with a bottle of wine.
It is a bedraggled Narcissa Malfoy that slips into the room after Harry has arrived. He doesn’t react to her arrival other than to open the wine with his wand and pour two glasses. It is only when she pulls the hood of her navy blue cloak down that he crosses the room and offers her a glass.
“Mr Potter, I can’t pretend to understand why you have summoned me here,” Narcissa begins quietly, guarded.
Harry wanders over to the window, looking down into the street below, the wizards scurrying around below seeming to know that those seen going into the Alley will be monitored by those outside such is the height of distrust that remains in their world.
“Harry,” the teenager mutters softly, “I was dead and then came back to life in your arms, Narcissa, surely you can use my first name.”
He hears her move closer; sip the wine, move up against the wall and standing watching him with that careless elegance that he had come to associate with her.
“Harry, as I said I cannot understand why you wished to see me,” Narcissa answers carefully.
Harry turns slowly, taking another drink of his wine not because he likes the taste in any way but because it calms his nerves and gives him something to do.
“I...I’ve been trying to move on. I can’t,” Harry mutters, “You were....you were there and....”
When he thinks about it, he isn’t sure why he has asked her to come. She was there but did she understand? Maybe and maybe not. Her eyes seem haunted as she realises what he is talking about but that means nothing to Harry. People being in pain at the ideas of things he has seen is nothing new to him but it doesn’t mean that they understand.
“You were dead, Harry, is that what you wish to know?” Narcissa states quietly, “You were dead and you were not breathing and just as I was about to tell the Dark Lord...suddenly you were.”
Maybe that is what he wanted to know. That he was dead. He died. Maybe it was confirmation o fthat that he wanted. Did that not confirm that he had no right to be there? Surely.
“Dead. Now alive,” Harry replies before laughing, making Narcissa watch him with alarm as he crosses to the bed in the centre of the room and settles down on it, still cackling madly, “I shouldn’t be here.”
Narcissa frowns, unable to determine whether he is talking to her or not before making her way to the bed and pausing at the end of it, “But you are Mr Potter. You are and many others are not so I should hope that you will make the most of your lot. It is after all, so much better than many others.”
There is a bitterness to her tone that her upbringing and no doubt numerous lessons about being polite and proper just about manage to cover up but Harry still hears it and blushes.
“I needed to know if... if what I thought happened did. Whether I just survived the curse or.....”
“Whether you came back from it. Again,” Narcissa finishes for him quietly.
“I thought I might feel better when I saw you again. If I spoke to you. No one else seems to really grasp what happened and I wondered if you might. I wanted to know why you did not hand me over. It would have been so easy and made things so different. You changed everything,” Harry admits while taking another sip of his wine and Narcissa nods, titling her head and searching for the right words, as if the weight of his words are too heavy on her shoulders.
“I was the one sent to see if you were alive or dead and I don’t know why. When I got to your body you were not breathing and as I said, just as I was about to report that to the Dark Lord, suddenly you were. I knew in that moment that there was hope. If I could save Draco, get him out....well, I had something to fight for,” Narcissa says simply.
“You could have got Draco out of Hogwarts even if you had handed me over,” Harry reminds her, “If you knew he was alive.”
“Yes. But I wanted a life for him,” the woman responds stonily “And while this life is....not the best I could have hoped for him to have, at least he has choices.”
Harry is silent after that because he understands and at the same time doesn’t want to. He wants to feel more. He wants the meeting with Narcissa to offer him some sort of closure and it doesn’t. He had died. He had no right to be there, no war to fight, no purpose to serve.
“Talking to you was meant to make things better,” Harry croaks bitterly, draining his glass and shuddering at how strong it is.
Narcissa only offers a bitter smile before summoning the bottle of wine and lowering herself to the bed beside Harry and refilling their glasses, settling herself, “Life, as I am sure you have learned Harry, rarely goes to plan. Only time can make things better in situations like this. And that is only if you are very lucky.”