SLASH. Two lovers, years after all the passion has fizzled out. A short fic about holding on when letting go would be the lesser of the two evils. SS/HP.
I see myself in you, in the lift of your brows, in the quirk of your lips. Who would have thought that would ever be the case? But somehow (probably through frequent exposure to your particular brand of sinister) I've picked up some of your more charming personality traits. I doubt you look beyond your own nose enough to realize that (the wisecrack about your nose was deliberate, by the way). But I can see it nonetheless, which is enough on most days. I think it's a shared outlook on life. A weariness with the status quo. Or at least, mine is (yours is more than likely mean-spiritedness, but I won't mince words). The idea of our similarities comforts me, though it shouldn't.
But we're nothing great apart, and probably worse together. And I actually don't like you much, come to that, which probably says more about me than I usually care to dwell on.
But why not? This bottle's almost empty, the lights are low and you can't see my face, have no way to know when I lie (provided you aren't up to your old tricks). So I'll keep on talking, pretend you care. And maybe when I'm too drunk to hold my glass, you'll take it from me, call me a name and then lead me to bed.
I don't expect we'll do much as we never do (not anymore), but if you were to accidentally drape your arm across my shoulders, I don't think I'd mind. In the morning, I'll let you pretend to still be asleep when I slip from the bed, that way you won't have to say anything to me at all. And maybe when I'm lifting your arm to free myself from it, I'll hold your hand for longer than I should. You can ignore that, too (you always have before).
Were I to be honest with myself, you can do whatever. Anything at all. I wouldn't complain, might even welcome it for a change. But can you imagine! Really! Instead of merely occupying the same room, seemingly farther apart than the space between two chairs really is, we could actually be together, even talk about the things that two people talk about when they're pleased to be in each other's company. Don't be foolish, I don't know what those things might be, and I don't imagine you do either. But my glass is nearly empty and such things have occurred to me before (and quite frequently lately since I've begun to wonder if I've wasted my life away).
And after all that pleasant chat about this and that, maybe then you would lead me to bed (and not because you had grown tired of listening to me, but because you wanted to be near me). Maybe we wouldn't need to quibble over who sleeps where or even the temperature of the room. Maybe we wouldn't need to speak at all; we could lie beside one another, breathe the same air, actually look at each other instead of the little dance our eyes do without ever meeting most of the time.
Yes, we could try that.
And I don't disillusion myself that you like my looks any more than I like yours (did we ever?), but wouldn't it be nice to stare across the chasm of years and lies and hatred that somehow crams itself between us on the bed most nights, and find it not so vast and not so terrifying and really not there at all? Wouldn't it? And no I'm not drunk yet, there's still a third of that bottle left and I feel fine, Severus.
I'm simply talking (and you're pretending to listen) and everything is fine. I didn't mean to trouble you.
Ahh, there it is again, that silence. It's always more obvious when I'm with you than when I'm with any other human (and I use the term loosely). It's an interesting trick. You must teach me one day: how can you make someone feel like rubbish without seeming to put forth any effort? It's a gift, surely. That and the snarl. Yes, I said "snarl." I have no idea what else to call it. The snarl, incidentally, is as much a part of our routine as everything else. Stagnation is a good word, wouldn't you agree? There it is again! How do you make your lips curl like that?
And aren't I as bad as you? There's only one sip left in my glass and very little left in the bottle and I haven't said anything that I meant to say. Nothing at all. Worse, even after all these years of tolerating each other, I never learned how to make you do more than hear me. As for listening, that you've never done. It bothers me the most when I have something important to tell you (like now).
And now there's nothing left to keep you here with me. The bottle is empty and I'm out of excuses to steal your time (ran out of those years ago; should I thank you for humoring me?). But let me pretend. Let me pretend it made a difference after all.
So maybe now you'll take my hand. Maybe now we can go to bed again, again, again. I won't be surprised if you sleep facing away from me. You do that so often I've forgotten what your face looks like when you sleep. I remember that it used to seem peaceful (for a change), but perhaps that's the rose colored glasses that are granted to men who reach my age and find themselves living the life they always said they wouldn't.
But forgive me for hoping that you heard - no, that you listened - this time. That you're considering it now, decoding the truths from the half-truths, picking out the words I never got the courage to say (from all the ones I shouldn't have) but always thought I might one day if only, if only. And maybe you're thinking that I'm right. That when we do slip into that cold bed, you'll pull me over to your side (as you insist on calling it) and do so without insult.
Could you be persuaded to go about the business of breathing life into...this (whatever it is)?
I would like it, I think, if you would kiss me since I can't recall the last one we shared (that's a lie, by the way, I know it to the minute). You used to touch my cheek and run your fingers through my hair, and that would be nice as well.
And if you've understood everything I said, you know this: you don't have to mean it, any of it. I don't need that anymore, not after so long. In fact, it came as a surprise for me to remember that once (ages ago, now?) all I needed was you.
Now, I'll take what remains and be grateful.