A/N: Written for the Cipher October Red Shoes Challenge – Write a letter to Red Shoes, a lover's column where you send your stories of woe, or vindication, or love.
Honey, I'm Home
I know what this letter is supposed to be about, and I'll get there, I promise. It's all here. Unrequited love, betrayal, so-so blowjobs, fucking amazing sex, PMS, and even some chocolate martinis. And you'll probably edit the shit out of it, and take out all the good stuff, and if you do, that's your prerogative. But I'm going to tell it like it happened.
So, I'm going to start with my cousin. Trust me, it's important. You see, when I was young, my little shit of a cousin, Dudley, had a collection of books about Winnie-the-Pooh. Okay, it's a Muggle thing. Basically the books are about this stuffed bear that screws around the woods all day with his lame-ass stuffed friends. The books are written for kids, and that's fine, but there's plenty in them for adults too, if you read between the lines. So, Pooh bear loves honey (like that's a fucking stretch) and one day he decides he's going to steal some honey from these bees. He rolls in the mud, grabs a balloon and floats up to the nest, all the while pretending to be a little black rain cloud. Now pay attention, because this is the part that's for the grown-ups. The bees are fooled – at first – as all ignorant creatures would be. Until Pooh sticks his paw in the honey. That's when they know. It's when you reach for the honey. That's when they figure it out, because that's when you can't hide anymore. When everything is out in the open. Which, if you were man enough to admit it, is where it should have been all along. Sometimes, though, it takes a little sting, a little risk, for you to realize that you even want the honey. But, more on that later.
Okay, on to the good stuff. I've been dating my best friend's sister for a few years now. We were apart for a time. That's another story not worth getting into here, trust me, but for the most part we've been a couple for a long time. Living with Ginny can be summed up pretty easily. It's like when you're in the mood for Queer as Folk, but all that's on the telly is Will and Grace. You see where I'm going with this? That's Muggle stuff again, but I'm hoping at least some of you will understand the analogy.
Ginny's comfortable. She makes me laugh. She's cute. We have a history. I've saved her ass a few times, she's done the same for me. It's all fated, written-in-the-stars, sappy bullshit, and most of the time all I need is a couple of whiskeys before the sight of her makes me want to throw up. I didn't understand why that was, though, until just recently. See, I put my hand in the honey, even if it was by accident, and now I'm stuck, sticky fingers and all.
Picture this. I'm sitting on my sofa, in the little flat I share with Ginny, eating Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans, when someone knocks on the door. Since Ginny is washing her hair, I answer it. She can be a real bitch when she doesn't rinse and condition properly.
Bill, Ginny's older brother, is standing on the other side of the door. He's got a trunk in one hand and a baby dragon in the other. "Hi, Harry," he greets me.
"Hi, Bill," I reply through my mouthful of candy. "I didn't know you were coming."
"No, I know. It's a sudden thing."
I nod in agreement and go back to sitting on my sofa and eating my jellybeans. I try to ignore the dragon.
"So, what's wrong, Harry?" Bill drops onto the sofa beside me.
I pause mid-chew. "Huh?"
He laughs and gestures to my handful of candy. "Come on. You only eat those things when you're depressed. You lived on them in the last year of the war. Everyone knows that."
I chew thoughtfully. "I did? They do?"
"Yeah." Bill laughs again and my bean-popping habit is dropped.
For him, anyway. But I can't stop thinking – he's right. And also – I eat these things all the fucking time these days. And shit, you don't have to be a Hufflepuff to make the connection.
When I emerge from my Zen-like epiphany, Bill is sitting next to me, petting his dragon. I eye the creature carefully. "Is it trained?" I ask.
Bill moves closer, but I'm not sure why. I didn't ask to touch the thing. He holds the baby dragon up so I can get a better view. "Ginny's trained. Don't worry. She's really good."
I laugh because it's so like Bill. "Your dragon's name is Ginny?"
"Sure." Bill grins and winks at me. And, what the fuck, my stomach clenches. And I mean, not in a bad way.
I'm saved from overanalyzing my reaction to Bill's grin by Ginny's sudden appearance. "Oh, Bill," she squeals and jumps into his lap. It wouldn't have been funny, except for the fact that she displaces Ginny-dragon, who screams like a banshee and belches fire on the interloper.
I swallow my amusement when Ginny-girlfriend goes to change her singed clothing and wash her hair yet again. Bill and I spend the next hour talking about Gringotts and drinking whiskey. And, I know I shouldn't have done what I did. I mean – I should have. Done it. But more like ten years ago, when most normal teens are working out their sexuality. But doing things the conventional way, or even the right way, is just not my fucking style. So instead, when Bill's slurred voice trails off, I lean over and kiss him.
Predictably, this pisses off his dragon, and she nips at my ankle.
"Ginny's a jealous bitch," I murmur against his lips.
Bill shrugs and nudges the dragon away with his foot. "She has PMS."
Ewww. What a mood killer, but then Bill starts kissing me back and holy shit, I'm flying. Absolutely fucking flying. Seriously. His tongue is down my throat and licking the inside of my mouth everywhere. No finesse – just tasting and licking and sucking and memorizing. His hands are on my throat, holding me, directing me, and I couldn't move on my own if I tried. He lets me go, and I almost fall off the sofa, but it's a damn good thing I don't, because here comes Ginny, bouncing into the room like her hair catches on fire everyday, and it's like, no big fucking deal.
"I'm back," she announces.
"Excellent," Bill replies.
I excuse myself, since the bathroom's finally free. It smells like mango shampoo and burnt hair and I don't care. I jerk off anyway.
Afterward, I realize how much trouble I'm in. I dipped my paw in the honey, and it was fucking sweet as shit. Now I know why that stupid bear risked it.
So, I tell Ginny I've been lying to her for years. Apparently, I'm gay and not only that, I'm leaving with Bill and Ginny-dragon. She wishes me well, and we all live happily ever after.
That night, I'm forced to endure hours of petty small talk. I come across like an idiot because I can't focus for more than one second on anything but Bill and his magic mouth. Ginny is clueless and annoying as shit, but at least she makes chocolate martinis, so I forgive her a little. Near two o'clock in the morning the gin runs out, and we decide to call it a night. Bill beds down on the sofa, and the dragon curls up on his lap. Lucky fucking thing.
I go to bed trying to decide if I've lost my mind. I wonder if all of this, this pathetic adolescent angst, has been simmering below the surface for years, and I've simply refused to acknowledge it, or if I'm just now discovering my true predilections. Sadly, introspection has never looked good on me, and I decide it doesn't matter where it's coming from or how long it's been there. However, since martyrdom isn't my style either, I plan to explore what I've been missing at the first opportunity.
As is my right.
Where was I? So, Ginny decides tonight is the night, of all nights, to push the marriage thing – again. In bed. The irony is not lost on me, and I cringe but tell her I'll think about it. As a reward for my shitty, noncommittal response, she sucks me off. It's very uninspiring. Afterwards, I lie there and wonder when things got so bad between us.
There was a time that I loved her. I mean, really loved her. That feeling is still there, but it's stale, you know? Like it was left out too long. Flat. It's the kind of thing you hold on to when there's nothing else. Which is crazy, because, we're still young. We could do anything and have anyone. But we don't, and suddenly I need to know why.
The question burns me up inside, and I turn over to ask her, but she's asleep. I'm momentarily torn between waking her up and letting it go. After a moment, I roll back to the other side of the bed. I admit I'm relieved she doesn't want me to touch her. I don't think I could.
In the morning, Ginny is gone. Her note on the pillow says she needed to go in to work, and she'll be back late. I figure it must be important. I know she'd want to hang out with Bill otherwise and chat about what's been happening in London. She's always complaining we're out of touch. Pretty close to the mark, I'd say.
I'm in the kitchen making breakfast when Bill comes in. Any speech I was planning on delivering dries up at about the same time I start salivating like fucking Pavlov's dog. What the hell is wrong with me?
"Relax, Harry," Bill says. He leans past me to grab a mug and his smell, his scent, is all around me. I moan, and he smiles. Bastard. "Tea?" he asks.
"Yes," I answer stupidly.
Bill laughs and goes about making his precious tea. I'll admit, I'm a little pissed at his attitude. Doesn't he understand what's happening here? What he's doing to me? What I'm struggling through? The way he stirs his tea drives me fucking crazy – not in a good way – and I get bitchy. "So, where's Fleur?" I ask.
"Home." He alternately stirs his tea and smiles at me, and, shit, suddenly I don't care if he's being evasive or nonchalant or coy.
I leave my toast half-buttered on the counter and turn to him. "Ginny's not here."
Bill sets his tea down and pulls me in. "Excellent."
It's rough and hot and hard, and I would probably call it life-altering, because I'm just dramatic that way. It's being held in an iron grip by someone that just fucking radiates heat. I mean, so hot that when they touch you, it burns. It's relentless kisses that steal your ability to breathe and rough, calloused fingers that pull through your hair and clutch it by the handfuls. It's having everything feel hard and soft all at the same time. It's small bites on your neck that hurt a little and…other things that hurt A LOT, but in the end, all of the things get wound up together in this tight, twisting vortex of incredible fucking sensation, and it's just like…dying.
It's never been like that before. Of course, I am a repressed bastard.
Afterwards, we lie on the couch and watch Ginny-dragon flap around the room, trying out her baby wings. She bumps into the wall more than once and knocks over a crystal vase on the table. "She's not very good," I say.
"It's a matter of perspective," Bill replies as he drags on his cigarette. "Maybe she's just not the dragon for you."
"I know she's not," I whisper.
Bill ruffles my hair. "You're both miserable. Why not end it, Harry? Nobody will think less of either one of you."
For the second time in twenty-four hours, something in my gut twists. I'm twenty-two years old, for fuck's sake. I've done things I hope most people never even have to think about doing. So, you'd think I'd pause before blurting out the first thing that pops into my head. But as it turns out, deep inside I'm still a child … and I'm still waiting for someone to swoop in and save me. Which is why I ask, "Can I be with you?"
Bill blows smoke rings and watches Ginny groom herself. "That's not really what you want," he says after a long moment.
"The fuck it's not!" I exclaim.
"I'm married, Harry."
"It didn't stop you from fucking me!" I try not to sound hurt, but I am. More than I should be. Ginny must agree because she snorts flames at me. I just frown at the charred carpet and pout. Fuck her.
"Fleur doesn't mind."
I want to yell that that's utter bullshit, but something in his eyes stops me.
"I think I love you," I mumble, because after all, in for a penny, in for a pound.
Bill stubs out his cigarette and, after some consideration, pulls another from the pack. He snaps his fingers and Ginny hops up on his lap and lights it for him. "Harry," he begins, "you don't love me. You love that I had sex with you. And, believe me, it was amazing. But it wasn't love."
And just like that, I understand. You see, a pot of honey is an amazing thing, but it's not a pot of gold. Honey is sweet and sticky and messy, but it's not worth much. I wonder if it's even worth getting stung for. Then Bill leans over and kiss me again, and I decide that whatever this is, it's worth quite a bit more than a little sting.
"You're breaking my heart," I tell him.
"I doubt it," Bill says. "But thanks for saying so."
When Ginny comes home that night, she's bearing a bottle of Gordon's gin. She's unhappy that Bill's gone, but I think she's more pissed about the burns in the carpet than anything else. I take the bottle silently, produce the créme de cacao and two glasses, and mix the martinis.
"So, how was it?" she asks as she joins me on the sofa.
The question is innocent. I've known Ginny long enough that I can decipher her special brand of small talk. She can hold an entire conversation and make you think she gives a fuck about what you're saying, but her mind's a million miles away. Because I like to remind myself every now and again that I was once a Gryffindor, I answer with the truth. "It was incredible. Bill gives amazing head. I'm telling you, he's a certified master."
"He was always good at his job," she answers, frowning at the rug.
"Then he rimmed me till I screamed."
"I knew that dragon was trouble the first time I saw it." She shakes her head and tsks at the burns on the carpet. "I'm going to take a shower." She's gone faster than I thought possible.
"I can't do this anymore," I say to the empty room.
We end up sleeping apart that night. Meaning, I sit on the sofa, drink until I can't feel anything, and then pass out slumped over my bottle. Ginny's gone when I wake up. So are her clothes, her mango shampoo and her toothbrush. I guess she did hear me, after all.
I ignore her note until I've had a shower and a hangover potion – and not in that order, either. Her goodbye is three lines long. Short and to the point. So like Ginny. I don't know whether to be happy or upset over the lack of dramatics. I suspect I should be relieved, but instead I feel strangely cheated. I mean, I've turned the corner on something here, and damn it, I deserve dramatics. At the very least, some bitter accusations and spiteful tears. Shit, I probably would have joined in. After all, just because something feels good, doesn't mean it's easy. I'm scared, here.
Cheated out of my messy break-up, I decide to get drunk again. Gryffindors are known for their bravery, remember, not their originality. Unfortunately, the very sight of the gin has my stomach doing flip-flops, so I head out to find a different flavored poison.
I'm reaching for the last lonely bottle of vodka on the shelf of my little corner store, when a hand darts out from behind me and snatches it away. And who do you think would have the fucking nerve to come between me and my pathetic emotional crutch? Draco Malfoy, that's who.
"Where's your keeper?" he asks, eyeing me up even as I eye up the bottle he's clutching.
"Gone," I say.
"Too bad," he says, sounding pleased. "How long?"
"This morning," I answer.
"Idiot," he says with a sigh, and I wonder whether he's referring to me or Ginny. We stare at each other for another minute before he hands the bottle over. I take it and he turns to walk away.
I speak before I think, something I'm learning to love about myself. "Wait, Malfoy." He stops and glances over his shoulder. I lift the bottle. "Fancy a drink?"
And just like that, my hand's right back in the honey pot. Only this time, the thrill is greater and the reward is sweeter. One drink turns into six weeks of nonstop fucking, which turns into six months of the most incredible sex I've ever had. I love it. I might even love him.
So what's the point of this whole letter? Well, it's just this. It goes back to the bear and the honey. And sticking out your paw – or your neck – and taking a risk. When you suddenly stop pretending to be something you're not, well, people fucking take notice. Sometimes you get stung. Sometimes you don't. But, it's always worth it.
And it's always sweet.
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