On a more serious note, I find this fic a tad too melodramatic (telling you too much would give it away), but my betas are ok with it so - fic (:
Title: Mea Culpa (A Tragedy in Five Parts)
Archive: None currently; open to hosting.
Category: Slash, dark
Disclaimers: Not mine.
Warnings: Heavy dose of well, violence and infidelity.
Notes: This was written in response to switchknife's challenge on 'Dysfunctional Relationships'. Thanks to lvlysenbei and abraxan for the betas. You have been warned.
Mea Culpa (A Tragedy in Five Parts)
There is a church outside the apartment. It would be wrong to describe this stone artifice as modest and quaint – on the contrary, it appears that its architect had had a grand design of building a miniature Notre Dame, then halfway through settled for St Peter’s Cathedral instead. The weight of its illustrious forebears sits heavily on its squat frame, its twisted body blending in with the gnarled trees surrounding it.
Draco sniffs at this cheap imitation, being far more used to the genuine articles, but you firmly point out that it is an indication of this neighbourhood’s relative safety – after all, didn’t Draco himself insist that they move into a more peaceful part of town, ever since that unpleasant run-in with those homophobic thugs in a seedier part of town?
A random member of the neighbourhood shoulders past on his way into the church, pausing slightly to stare at Draco draped around you like a petulant child, but it is still gentler than the blows and spits you have encountered. You point that out blithely, and are rewarded by a non-committal grunt before Draco walks away.
Turning around, you triumphantly inform the housing agent that yes, you are buying this apartment.
Draco stubbornly refuses to sleep in the room that faces the church. He throws tantrums about it being an eyesore and how he didn’t want to buy this house anyway. You calmly explain that the other rooms catch the afternoon sun and remember how much he hates that, but he just has one of his hissy fits and threatens to sleep on the couch. It takes promises of a dinner at his favourite French restaurant and a suggestion of white muslin curtains (to match the décor) to placate him enough so that you can slip an arm around his waist and rub the smooth skin of his back.
Even so, he squirms away, uncomfortable, and escapes to the kitchen to ‘make coffee’.
You know that you should have begun to suspect that something is amiss at Hermione’s 28th birthday party, when you make a particularly witty comment and Draco passes up a chance to retort in kind. He gives a guilty start when he feels your hand on his knee, hot fingers of guilt creeping up from under his starched collar. His voice is full of feigned amusement as he carelessly – too carelessly, brushes aside your concerned enquiries.
“Oh, sorry, was just thinking how gorgeous Hermione looked tonight.”
Hermione, to you, looks anything but. Even a casual observer would have to admit that cosmetics can only do so much to conceal a countenance and figure marred by predisposition, age and war. Her male companion, however, has attracted more than a few appreciative stares from the guests. Who could blame them? Stylishly cropped hair paired with a rakish smile atop a toned, buff body – he by far outshines the birthday girl. And he is making no bones about who he is interested in. The predatory leer on his face is most definitely directed at Draco.
Your hand tightens on Draco’s knee and you glare furiously at this cocksure upstart. He just gives you a smirk worthy of Draco and appraises you silently, reaching for a cocktail proffered by a vapid female admirer. His eyes hold the hint of a challenge and dare you to take him on.
Later, you question Hermione and discover that he is the Muggle son of her parents’ friends. Her laugh is a little nervous and sheepish as she admits that she had asked him to come just to pose as her boyfriend and prove to her colleagues that she wasn’t as unattractive as they thought.
It comes as little surprise when she informs you that actually, he is gay.
It is even more surprising that you choose to ignore Draco’s increasingly frequent absences from the flat.
When questioned, he flushes and shuffles his feet like a typical British schoolboy, and rattles off a well-rehearsed spiel about having to work overtime. The ground between you is well-mined, and nobody wants to raise the topic of infidelity, past or present. It is better to ignore it and hope that it will go away.
Even when Draco comes home, normally impeccable designer shirt obviously ruffled and buttoned up the wrong way, with a strong smell of pine-scented cologne that is not his own lingering on his clothes, you merely give him a freezing smile and return to the football match that you had been watching. You watch him stumble over pathetic excuses and feeble lies. Somehow, some when, his blushes have ceased to be endearing and have become more of an irritation.
But when he finally returns one day in the early hours of morning, with bruised lips and bite marks on his neck, blinking surprisedly at the blaze of lights in the living room, you taste something bitter at the back of your throat. It tastes like defeat.
Predictably, you argue - harsh words are said. It would usually have ended in a fierce kiss and desperate sex, but this time is one time too many and you raise an arm to strike him. In the split second before your fist connects with his cheek, you see him flinch and your blow goes awry. The thin red trickle of blood from his nose only serves to feed the anger within you.
There must be something of the matador in your eyes, something deep and dark and dangerous, because instead of going to the bathroom for a quick healing charm and to apply powder to hide the fading bruise, he chooses to run.
And it is a wonder because Draco never runs; he claims that it is demeaning and why should he do something so awkward and ungainly. But he flies this time, and it is neither graceful nor awkward but desperate.
He almost makes it to the front door but in a fit of childish pique, you push him, and he collides with the door frame. He glances back at you in terror, his blood draining from his face through the split lip caused by the impact. He scrambles for the handle – desperation helps him fumble it open into the corridor, down the stairs, into the open. Desperation also helps him to be briefly illuminated by the headlights before there is a screechthump and an empty silence.
You walk into the church. It is nearly morning and the wail of the ambulance siren cuts across the stillness, but its sound is muffled with the closing of the heavy wooden door. The stained glass windows are still their soulless black, their brilliant hues eaten away by the colourless grey outside.
There is one man in the corner, his head nodding as he attempts to meditate before performing the morning service. You slide in beside him, wincing as the pew squeaks in protest of your unwelcome intrusion.
He smiles benevolently at you, his hand raised in blessing as your cross yourself hesitantly, memories of church and religion floating to the top of your brain like scum on the surface of a pond.
And then you hear your voice, strangely echoing in this vacant church and reverberating in your empty soul.
“Bless me father, for I have killed a man.”